That’s me right there, in that splendid hat, with fellow contributor Tom next to me. I hardly ever make myself in a game, but for some reason when the two of us decided to give Saints Row 2 a whirl, we decided to do it in person. This is the result, the two of us, heavily armed in splendid hats and pimp suits, wreaking havoc.
I’m honestly surprised there wasn’t more mention of Saints Row 2′s co-op mode on release, I wasn’t even aware it had one, never mind the seamless experience we encountered. The only things the second player is restricted from doing are buying property and customising his gang, completed missions are even saved back into your single player game.
Several missions have also been adjusted to accommodate the second player. An example, one of the local gangs put one of our ‘homies’ in hospital, and sent some men to finish the job. Tom, as player one, was told to manoeuver his gurney downstairs, shooting at enemies with his other hand, while I fought my way upstairs to steal a helicopter and bring it down to meet him in the car park.
So smooth is the transition it’s sometimes hard to imagine this wasn’t conceived as a co-op game from the get go, so many side activities utilise the second player. A helicopter assault will have one man fly while another fires, another activity requires one man to drive a car around and pick up women while the other plays a gigolo mini-game in the backseat.
Saints Row has always aped GTA, but the second instalment really captures what was fun about past GTA games, the cartoonish atmosphere, the crude humour and the mindless destruction, without saddling itself with the overwrought story and desire for realism later installations of the older series have developed. Saints Row is wild and out of control, and that feeling is magnified exponentially by the addition of another player.
And there’s so much to do in the world of Saint’s Row, the world is liberally peppered with both story missions and fun ‘activities’ or side missions, each one of which can be completed on six different difficulty levels, with escalating rewards each time. Neither is there any quest to unlock each location, the entire city being available within half an hour of starting up the game, it makes you wonder why on earth it would be any other way.The team that made Saints Row weren’t very imaginative or creative, but they made up for it with sheer hard work and a real sense of what is and isn’t fun. And they were smart enough to realise that any game that relies on silly fun is vastly improved by the addition of co-op.
So if you picked up Saints Row 2 in the THQ pack sale recently, as I did, I urge you to play it co-op, because afterwards you simply won’t want to go back.