Review by XSoulFulGaMeRX

Reviewed: 01/23/09

The True Successor to GTA:SA.

Let me tell you, one of my favorite games of all time was Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. It had everything you could ever want in a sandbox crime game:

- Funny, yet interestingly deep characters.
- Varied gameplay / lots of sidequests
- memorable environments

So, when Grand Theft Auto IV came out (which Saints Row 2 will obviously be compared to), I thought GTAIV would be the best game ever. With reviews like IGN's 10/10, Grand Theft Auto IV was on my must-have list.

Then I played it. and I disliked it.

The problem with our current generation is this oath to realism that every game must have, and in some cases, games like Call of Duty 4 get it right. But it just didn't belong in the Grand Theft Auto world. In GTAIV, Characters were deep, but never funny. I never felt like I was Niko; more like I was watching him. The city is all drab with nothing interesting. There weren't many sidequests other than keeping your friends happy (which was a chore), and the fun factor had be scaled down for realism. I was wondering if San Andreas could ever be topped, since not even Rockstar could top their own effort.

Then entered Saints Row 2.

Funny, yet interestingly deep characters
Characters need to make you care for them while keeping you entertained. That's what made the missions in San Andreas fun (a la, Woozie and the Truth). Gat, your best bud in the game, is a perfect example of this. Sarcastic remarks aside, he alone makes this game worth playing through for. Not only does he make witty remarks during the game, he also cares for the people around him. Without spoilers, I can only say that he reacts realistically to the danger of his friends, while keeping his witty mouth in full force.

And while Gat is funny, your own main character's personality can be customized. You choose his accent, and his taunt and compliments. I personally equipped him with a snarky british accent, a face full of anguish, and a middle finger taunt, then proceeded to insult every civilian I could see (all who respond with amazing anger) and complimented the occasional hot babe. Eventually, I felt like my character was customized to my liking; All the clothes I chose and the facial details made him something unique, and that adds so much more to the immersion.

Characters: 10/10

Varied Gameplay
One of the things that made the last gen GTA games great was that I could do whatever I want after I got the first safehouse. That's no different here. once you get settled in the streets of Stilwater, you can partake in any activity you want ranging from street racing, ho-ing, streaking, car surfing, hooker escort, skydiving... or just plain mayhem. Cars handle in a very arcade fashion, and don't control like the heavy, slow cars in GTAIV. It keeps gameplay flow amazingly fluid.

Gunplay is like your standard third person shooter, minus a cover system. You can crouch behind a short wall or something, but most of the missions are geared towards frantic action rather than slow-paced tactics, so it works nicely. Also, it's nice that your teammates help out a lot. When the mission requires them, you don't feel like you have ot keep them alive; they serve their own purposes, like Gat placing bombs while you fire away at the opposing gangs.

Oh, and you don't fly out the windshield every time you hit a wall like you did in GTAIV.

Gameplay: 10/10

Memorable environments
Pretty much, the best part of an open world game is the environment you are in. In stark contrast to the murky look of Grand Theft Auto IV, Saints Row 2 offers a brighter view, where everything looks much more exaggerated. The environment is varied, with different building types in the city making the college look way different than the Asian town. There are also the boonies, where the stereotypical Redneck RV cars are, and the suburbs look very distinct from the business districts. The people are all randomly generated, and you almost never see the same person twice.

If there was a complaint, it would be a somewhat inconsistent frame-rate. For the most part, it stays a fluid 30-45 frames, but it sometimes drops to the single digits. Though these occurrences are rare, they did detract from the overall feel.

The sound effects and music add to the environment, however. Whether it be the sounds of your gunfire, or the sound of the person you're doing the ho-ing to, everything is clear and crisp, which is good because the lines of dialogue running through the game add to the wackiness.

Graphics / Sound: 9/10

Fun Factor
The biggest part that GTAIV missed was the fun. Most of the missions felt like chores, where I wanted to complete them to maybe do a more entertaining mission that never happened. Every mission in Saints Row 2, however, has it's own charm and makes you want to complete it for the mere satisfaction.

I've had more fun doing side missions in Saints Row 2 than any other game I've ever played. That, and a fun story that is rewarding with much fun dialogue, and you've got a package that is reminiscent of the fun you were having in San Andreas, updated for the next gen.

Fun: 10 /10

Pretty much, pick this up for the PS3, 360, PC, whatever console. The true successor to the great San Andreas is this.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Product Release: Saints Row 2 (US, 10/14/08)

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