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Posted by drew10 on Oct 21, 2008
Saints Row 2 : PS3 Review

Saints Row 2 : PS3 Review

Grab your guns and your biatches it is time to pay another visit to Saints Row.

Developed by Volition, THQ’s much anticipated (read hyped) sequel is finally here and it has a huge amount of stiff competition just waiting to pop a cap in its ass, so can it handle the shizzle? (Cough! that’s enough of that now!)

I was going to try to avoid comparing Saints Row 2 with GTA and review the game on its own merits but after spending some time playing it that would prove impossible. Like the first game, Saints Row 2 is a sandbox style gangland warfare game that is like… well, GTA. There is just no denying it, Saints Row is a direct clone of Rockstar’s seminal title, now the only question is how does it stand up against it.

To obtain the answer to that question, and let’s face it that really is the only question you guys really want to know we will need to break it down and look at what Saints Row 2 offers when compared to GTA.

Firstly, as the game starts it plunges you directly into the storyline introducing your character in hospital after somehow surviving a massive explosion. The doctor uncovers your face from bandages, Michael Knight style, after some pretty heavy plastic surgery. This is a not so cunning way of allowing you to customise your characters appearance. All the usual options are there hair, face, and even the chance to play through as a woman. You can even select the way your character walks, talks and taunts. I chose the ‘cockney gangsta’ style and after five minutes of hearing the God-awful accent I wish I hadn’t.

From the very first line spoken in the game it is apparent that the script is truly woeful and devoid of any of the subtlety and wit that makes GTA IV such an joy to play. The use of swear words is misplaced and far too frequent that it just sounds childish. In fact that is a theme that runs through the entire game, despite its 18 rating Saints Row lacks any of the maturity that GTA IV excels in and in fact it feels like it has been written to appeal to a younger audience making me question exactly where THQ are pitching it. The much hyped all star voice cast seem wooden, maybe due to direction but I suspect more likely trying to work with such an awful script. None of the dialogue rings true.

Graphically, Saints Row 2 isn’t bad but again when put up against the competition it looks dated and lacking detail. The face animations and details look like a polished up PS2 game and the buildings lack shine and detail that games of the generation have shown. The fact that Saints Row 2 is not even as graphically advanced as Crackdown is criminal, (No pun intended.)

The gameplay mechanics suffer many of the same problems faced by this genre in general. Frustrating hanging around waiting for cars to pass before you can ‘jack’ one, the lack of parked cars is just bizarre, there must be a huge car park somewhere where everybody parks together but I am yet to find it. Ridiculous AI from both enemies and your own gang members leaves you feeling less connected with the world as the game progresses, especially when you are constantly killed by your own gang! The camera lets you down at crucial moments in car chases, when trying to do a 3 point turn quickly it would be nice if the camera decided to do the same.

Despite all of these issues however, Saints Row 2 still manages to be enjoyable to play and fans of the first game will find a great deal here to please. New gameplay features include the now standard planes and helicopters meaning you can take your crime spree to the skies something that was sorely missing from the first game. The mini-games from the first title are still here yet there is now more variety and most are quite fun if a little repetitive. The main missions are a standard fare of shoot this, blow that up and steal that, you know the kind of thing, it’s all pretty run of the mill.

Saints Row 2 still employs the need to build up your territory, and this is a feature I have always been a fan of. Buying real estate and mapping out your ‘hood’ as you rise up to be the head honcho is a nice feature as is buying shops with which to increase you gangland wealth.

Saints Row 2 also offers a few new tricks, the ability to customise everything from your appearance to that of you gang members and crib adds a personal touch to proceedings. Another new and welcome feature is the ability to set your car into cruise control, whereby it maintains it speed leaving you free concentrate on steering and shooting.

But where Saints Row 2 truly excels is its online functions and this really is its saving grace. The drop-in drop-out co-op is great and means that at anytime you can pull in a mate for that little extra muscle or a couple more guns. The standard deathmatch and team deathmatch, cunningly renamed, Gangsta Brawl and, you guessed it, Team Gansta Brawl let you run around killing everyone and everything in sight. However the most interesting and something I have no doubt will be implemented into many an online mode from hereonin is the Strongarm Mode. In this mode the online objectives randomly switch every few minutes, adding depth and variety to the game. Strongarm Mode is a truly innovative addition and it allows many different styles of online players to play together, lets face it we have all been stuck in a game where our own personal style of online play wasn’t suited or in a game style that you don’t really like, well in Strongarm you just have to wait for the game to switch to an objective that is geared to your style and then you can get the chance to kick some butt. Even better that everything you can do in the single player game is also available in the online mode.

Summing up Saints Row 2 is difficult, ultimately it lives in the considerable shadow of GTA IV and truthfully it never even comes close to toppling it off its perch. It feels like a dumbed down version for kids like Beavis and Butthead with none of the sophistication or subtlety that makes Rockstar’s game stand apart. That said however, it is still fun and is worth a play if you just cant get enough sandbox violence, and worth it alone for the online games which really save this game from being a true disaster.

7/10

Saints Row 2 is out now on PS3, 360 & PC.

Do you agree with this review? Leave your comments!

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One Response to “Saints Row 2 : PS3 Review”

  1. shady says:

    SR2 is really good. I have been a fan of GTA since gta3. but GTA IV was a put down. i excepted better… SR2 was everything i excepted. violence, school shoot outs. hold ups, and muging.
    but as for online, GTA is FAR better then SR2 because you can see who your going to fight, and u just have to wait until every body presses start. in sr2, u wait 4 like 5 minutes for a game, but the customizations in SR2 is on a whole different LVL then gta.

  2. freeaddicting game…

    i have playes evo……

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