Saints Row 2 Review for PC

Saints Row 2 Review for PC

Pimps and Ho-Hum

As far as murder simulators go, GTA is king. However, it’s not the only game town. Volition and THQ are looking to further cash in on GTA’s success with the latest addition to the Saints Row franchise, Saints Row 2. We went ahead and took the Pepsi Challenge, but we weren’t fooled by the competition’s “flava.” GTA is by far the more refined and worthwhile series, but Saints Row could work in a pinch.

Saints Row 2 screenshot

Saints Row 2 (SR2) takes place a couple years after the original title. After going through an impressive character customization utility that allows for near-limitless possibilities, players wake up to find themselves in Stilwater prison’s medical facility. Apparently, you survived the horrific burns you sustained in Saints Row and have awoken from a coma. While you were out, several new wannabe gangs, including The Brotherhood, Sons of Samedi, and The Ronin, have taken over your turf and have all but obliterated the Saints’ control. What’s more, these poser gangs have not been able to keep the Ultor Corporation from gentrifying your former stomping grounds. As such, you’ll first have to escape your incarceration, save your closest homie Johnny Gat from a date with the electric chair, and then find a new crib as a base of operations in order to reestablish the Saints as the true power in Stilwater, which, other than terrorizing the city and going on a virtual killing spree, is the ultimate goal of SR2.

Saints Row 2 takes place in a massive open world; Stilwater has grown significantly since the series left off and Ultor Corp came to town. The multinational has pumped millions into infrastructure, and players will benefit from this greatly as they wreak havoc throughout the now refurbished city. This open world is not nearly as detailed as Liberty City, but the resemblance between the two sand boxes is strikingly similar; the city is chocked-full of shops, leisure opportunities, and places to commit crimes.

Thankfully, getting around Stilwater is made easy by a detailed overworld map and waypoint system that is reflected on the ever-present mini-map. Using the excellent mapping tools to their advantage, players can easily occupy their time with various Diversions and Activities that help garner respect and money in the game world and take up hours of time in the real world.

Saints Row 2 screenshot

Cash and respect are vital to your success in the main story. Missions that advance the overarching plot won’t become available to you until you accrue a sufficient amount of respect, and getting these jobs done effectively requires the right tools, i.e. cash. The best way to advance the story is to take out rival gang members and tool around town, participating in the multitude of Activities.

Activities are extremely varied and over-the-top in SR2. Unlike GTA, SR2 is meant to have a much more arcade-like feel to it. Truly, the experience is meant to be out of this world. Accordingly, side missions involve running drive-bys for drug dealers, dressing up as a cop and stopping crime for a reality TV show, defacing public property by spraying human excrement from a septic truck, throwing your body at oncoming traffic to collect on the insurance, and even murdering rival pimps and taking over their stable of “hos.” Of course, there are also more mundane activities like participating in fight clubs, tagging the Saints logo around the city, taking on work as a celebrity bodyguard, and racing around town á la Burnout Paradise. All these activities, and several more, will net you the requisite amount of cash and respect to advance the main story, which is only slightly less tongue-in-cheek.

Saints Row 2 screenshot

One of the biggest things this game has going for it is its online play. Players can hop online and play the entirety of the campaign with a co-op partner. Unfortunately, there is no local co-op support; the days of split-screen action seem to be numbered. But I digress. Players can also participate in up to 12-player multiplayer battles that are either kill or objective-based. Online multiplayer functions smoothly, and the mix of modes will definitely keep gamers’ guns blazing.

The presentation in SR2 is made up of excellent music and voice acting and terribly mediocre visuals. A wide variety of music, including a load of quality hip hop, can be enjoyed. Players can even create their own playlists. Furthermore, the voice acting in SR2 is surprisingly good. In fact, it is every bit as good as that found in the competition; the line delivery is topnotch. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the writing is also of first-rate. I found myself frequently giggling at the crude banter.

Saints Row 2 screenshot

Unlike the high quality sound in SR2, the visuals are truly substandard for the current generation of consoles. In fact, SR2’s graphics are on par with that of San Andreas, but they are also full of technical issues. Character models, especially hair, are blocky and artificial, animations are so stiff they make melee combat unwieldy, the environments are devoid of substantial detail, and the amount of pop-in is quite rough. There are also innumerable instances of utterly poor collision detection, cars and people that appear out of nowhere and vanish just as quickly, and even framerate issues that rack and shutter throughout the action. All in all, the graphical effort in SR2 seems downright amateurish.

With all this in mind, SR2 is a game for those who preferred the mindless and wanton acts of violence in GTA as opposed to the compelling story, attention to detail, interesting character development, and overall cinematic experience. I, for one, quickly became bored with this title because there is almost no challenge to be found. For starters, the enemy A.I. is an absolute joke: Players can walk around Stilwater, guns in hand, with no repercussions; police officers and rival gangs never take cover, and it seems as though throwing wave after wave of bodies at you is the only tactic your foes can muster.

Additionally, you’ll almost never die. In fact, it will take twenty or more shotgun blasts from less than five feet to even get you to stagger. Pair this with regenerating health and your character is more similar to Superman than a gang banger. Moreover, not dissimilar to GTA IV, the over-the-shoulder, third-person shooter mechanic is woefully simple. It takes absolutely no skill to turn a room of enemies into corpses. I guess the intentionally surreal nature of the title is supposed to make players feel heroic, but for me it was just a yawn-inducing waste of time.

If this game was purely a shooter, it would fail miserably! The graphics are not pretty and the simplistic combat is even worse. Fortunately for the development and production team, the game does capture a sense of mayhem and carnage that will undoubtedly find favor with its intended audience. But if you’re looking for a more cerebral or skillful challenge, you may have to look elsewhere. This game is little more than a lowbrow, yet humorous, thug-life simulator.

The sheer amount of technical issues and blasé, last-gen environments leave a lot to be desired. 3.3 Control
Controls, with the exception of melee combat, are functional. However, the utter simplicity quickly leads to boredom. 4.2 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The varied musical genres, excellent selections, and great voice work really shine. 4.0 Play Value
With many missions, online modes, and visceral gameplay, fans of the genre have a lot to enjoy. 3.8 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Responsive and easy-to-use game controls allow casual or first-time players to pick up and play immediately. Experienced gamers will enjoy the well tuned gameplay.
  • Reversal system: For the first time in a football video game you have complete control of the action when players collide. Use well-timed button commands to deliver big hits or break would-be tackles as you determine the success on the field. With the power in your control, never quit until the whistle blows!
  • Earn an NFL contract as a virtual unknown: You’re given an opportunity to lead your favorite NFL team to glory against your biggest division rivals. If you’re good enough, you’ll challenge ultimate squads, including All-AFC, All-NFC, and All-NFL teams.
  • Fun and exciting arcade action: Use Turbo boosts to escape defenders, unleash big hits to power up the Smash Meter, and enjoy the all-out excitement of in your face football on both sides of the ball.

  • To top