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Saints Row 2 - Saints Row 2

By Stuart Andrews

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

This is probably the most action-oriented open-world crime game we've seen - a fact the ridiculous prison-break opener makes clear. There's no cover system or any hint of realism, but the third-person controls work well and a recharging health system means you always have a fighting chance of overcoming the odds (and often then some). The missions go large on gunfights and car chases, and the skilful use of the Havok physics engine means that things collapse, crash and go bang in exuberant style. If you're the sort of guy who loves a game where you're actually rewarded for shooting someone in the more painful dangly bits of their anatomy, then this is the sort of game you'll love. A lot.

The rest of us might not always feel the same. The fact is that Saints Row 2 comes packed with flaws and shortcomings, some technical, some a matter of taste. On the first front, it still has to be said that the visuals are nothing to write home about, unless your mum wants to hear that 'it doesn't look all that great.' With its flat architecture, dull lighting and limited character detail, Saints Row 2 could easily fit in with the first wave of 360 titles. The images on this page make it look better than it actually is. Even Mercenaries 2 - itself not a blinder - makes it seem sub-par.

Sadly, much the same is true of the AI. We don't expect the kind of enemy intelligence from an open-world game that we expect from, say, your average FPS, but the gangsters of Saints Row 2 are spectacularly thick. We're talking 'not moving when your buddy two feet away is shot dead' thick. We're talking 'unable to follow you on a motorbike without crashing' thick. We're even talking 'I can't follow you because I'm stuck behind this parked car' thick. At one point I was able to wipe out around thirty enemy gangsters single-handed through the well-known military strategy of running around like a nutter blasting then skulking around a corner to recuperate. I'm not sure they teach that one to the US Navy Seals.

ruthless

October 19, 2008, 4:10 am

"Defeating rival gangs and acquiring territories is still the name of the game, but the central missions have a more logical sequence and there's less time spent just mopping up gang members or looking for something (or someone) to do (in)."





Real positive role model stuff.





Burn the heretic!!

Matthew Bunton

October 19, 2008, 5:15 am

Different stokes for different folks I guess.





Whilst it is nowhere near as polished as GTA 4 it is in my opinion infinetly more fun to play.

Wilfried

October 19, 2008, 6:06 am

It might be just me, but I find Saint's Row 2 much more entertaining than GTA4. Ok, the graphics and the depth is not the same as GTA4 but the latter really bored me. I stopped playing GTA4 shortly after it started. Somewhere deep inside, I regret having bought GTA4, I should not have let the "over" hype get the best of me.

Ten Ninety

October 19, 2008, 6:26 pm

"Now GTA4 has come and gone, wowing us with its living, breathing city, layers of detail and rich narrative"





Come and gone indeed, with the emphasis on gone! Honestly, the sort of breathless hyperbole about GTA4 spouted above may have been forgiveable when it was released, as we were all taken in by its shiny new clothes. But to still be peddling such gross misrepresentation of what ultimately turned out to be a fundamentally flawed, cynically unfinished game is, frankly, a poor show now that we've all had long enough to realise just how little replay value there is in GTA4.





As a long-time GTA fanboy all the way from 1997 it's painful to say, but Rockstar so comprehensively missed the fun-factor with GTA4 that I'm now looking for an alternative source of morally-questionable but joyously-replayable open world entertainment. I know I'm not alone here. The question is, will we all find it in Saints Row 2? Unfortunately I'm really no wiser after this review, as I can't trust the judgment of anyone who, months after its release, is still writing about GTA4 using terms like "layers of detail" and "rich narrative".

prag fest

October 19, 2008, 10:47 pm

Sorry, but this game rules, to look at in direct comparsion to GTA4 is to completely miss the point.



StuAndrews

October 19, 2008, 10:51 pm

Glad you're enjoying Saints Row 2. I never said it wasn't a lot of fun, but equally I can't pretend that it hasn't got a lot of serious flaws. If these don't spoil your enjoyment and you can live with the game's more4 dubious elements, good for you.





As for GTA4, it gave me some of the most exhilarating, surprising and compulsive hours of gaming I've had this year or any other, and I'm not going to say otherwise now. That's not breathless hyperbole or a gross misrepresentation - just my honest opinion as a critic.

Wilfried

October 20, 2008, 1:43 am

Sorry StuAndrews, if gamers wanted realism, I'm sure they would purposely pick a simulation game to quench their thirst. GTA4 AND Saint's Row 2 are both fiction games. Whilst one may be more "realistic" than the other, I remain convince that gamers would favour the "fun" factor over the "real" factor. Isn't it what a game should be about, fun? From reading various comments on Gamespot, there are a lot of people that feel the same way as most of the commenters here.

Gordon394

October 20, 2008, 4:24 am

Sorry, siding with Stu here - GTA IV is on a completely different PLANET to SR2.

TheEvilGenius

October 20, 2008, 1:31 pm

I have to say that Saints 2 dosn't interest me that much. I played the demo of the first one which was enough to put me off.





If I want fun replayable sandbox goodness, I'll go back to San Andreas.

StuAndrews

October 20, 2008, 8:59 pm

Wilfried - As a reviewer I tend to put fun first, so no argument there. For me, though, the cardboard qualities of Saint's Row - including the underpopulated streets and the shockingly poor AI - stop me getting caught up in the game in the way that I got caught up in GTA4 or even Mercenaries 2. It is a fun game - 7/10 isn't actually a bad score, after all - but it could and should have been better had it had a little more love and polish.

Wilfried

October 26, 2008, 8:11 pm

Sorry StuAndrews, it is not what I felt when I read your review. I agree with you though, 7/10 is not a bad score at all, in fact it is better than some I've seen out there. I also agree that GTA4 is a living and breathing open world however, I personally have not found it so engrossing. Not compared to Saint's Row 2 anyway. Yes Saint's Row 2 is more static, much like Crackdown in fact, however it is a blast to play, much like Crackdown too. This is what I am trying to say, you'll have to excuse me though for not expressing myself as good as you are (english is not my first language, I know not an excuse). GTA4 is a good game, so is Saint's Row 2, however I preferred Saint's Row 2 and I still believe the two should not be compared, as Gordon said, they're on a completely different planet.

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