|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Volition||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 14, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
October 22, 2007 - When Saints Row released for the Xbox 360, it was a pleasant surprise, especially considering the lack of quality titles for the Xbox 360 at the time. While most gamers expected little more than a derivative GTA clone, Saints Row went on to surprise everyone with fun gameplay that made it one of the must have titles of the time. While it did borrow heavily from GTA, it did bring enough new things to stand on its own two feet, most notably online multiplayer, next-gen visuals, and a free targeting system. Now, Volition announces the long awaited return to Stilwater with Saints Row 2, which will improve upon the game that Xbox 360 owners grew to love.
Saints Row 2 places the player back in the gang infested town of Stilwater to conquer the town once again. The city of Stilwater has gone through some changes since the events of Saints Row though, expanding in ways that will make the familiar streets fresh to returning gamers. The developers have stated that they are compressing years of city growth into the short amount of time between Saints Row and its sequel. In addition to the coat of polish and growth that Stilwater receives, Saints Row 2 also opens up new areas of the game by introducing boats and bridges, which will allow the player access to a prison island. Also, players will finally be able to sightsee from the sky, with the addition of planes and helicopters that can be piloted.
The story in Saints Row 2 picks up from the close of the last, so those that finished Saints Row have an idea why their player might need the reconstructive surgery that makes another character customization screen necessary. However, this time around, the customization extends to gender as well, allowing the player to choose whether their gangbanger is a male or a female. Also, because of the events at the close of the original, the tone that Saints Row 2 takes will be decidedly darker than that of Saints Row, with a focus on revenge that doesn't completely undermine the game's comedic tone.
Your gang member has learned a few new tricks since the previous game beyond the highly requested ability to fly in helicopters and airplanes. The next natural evolution and one thing that was desired in Saints Row was the ability to drive motorcycles, and this will be actualized in Saints Row 2. Saints Row also had a unique firing system which worked sort of like a first person shooter, with an aiming reticule onscreen at all times, and this system returns for the sequel, adding in the ability to grab a foe and use them as cover, forcing your enemies to stop firing if they want their friend back intact. The player now has the vaunted (and nearly standard) ability to dual wield weapons now too, boosting their firepower considerably. In addition to dual wielding, some new weapons make an appearance as well, including explosive satchel charges and a laser guided rocket launcher, all of which you'll need against the smarter police and gang A.I.
One thing that Saints Row unquestionably brought to the sandbox gang gaming formula was the inclusion of online multiplayer. This feature makes a return, but with a complete revamp. Instead of simply having deathmatch games, the developers promise that elements from the single player games will be part of the online game. While they have yet to elaborate on what this means exactly, it seems as if some of the activities in the game will be accessible with an online gang in an online version of Stilwater. Saints Row 2 also has online co-op, so a friend can drop in on your game and help you take over the town at any given moment. This includes the missions that require a driver and a gunner, such as the drug running missions from the original, so you no longer have to rely on the A.I. to get you home intact.
While Saints Row beat Grand Theft Auto IV to the market and led the way for next gen sandbox gangbanging, this time it will be following Rockstar's magnum opus. The first Saints Row was undeniable fun, but it also released when the Xbox 360 had a dearth of good titles. Will the sequel fare as well as the original with so many titles to compete with, especially its highly anticipated rival GTA IV? Only time will tell, but even if Saints Row 2 just offers gamers more of the same, the original was so much fun, there would probably still be a bunch of gamers eagerly anticipating the sequel. We'll see when Saints Row 2 finds its way to the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 sometime during 2008.
CCC Former Co-Site Director