Saints Row 2 looks to have been a bit of a sleeper hit around here. I think we all had pre-conceptions on release but after actually playing it for ourselves, we seem to be in agreement that it’s actually quite good. In fact; as I play I continually think that it does some things far better than what GTA has ever done.
When you store a car in your ‘garage’ on Saints Row 2 it’s always there. You can take it out, blow it up then return and just get a new one. Also you can store a seemingly infinite amount of cars in there, and they are retrievable from any of your garage locations. This basically means that I can constantly drive cars that I want to drive and not worry about them exploding.
I’m a super hero
It takes a lot to kill you. You can sponge bullits for ages and then hide for a scant amount of time to have your health recharge. Killing 20 people as you stand in the open is never really an issue – even when one has a rocket launcher. It’s not that combat feels easy per-se, it’s just that you can generally take it and come out on top. You are hard, you are dual wielding sub machine guns, you are a gangland super hero.
SR2 is always throwing stuff at you. New cars, new guns, new perks. And it does it at the same time as not holding anything back. All the unlocks are to an extent superfluous – they make you more efficient at killing or just make some things more convenient. It’s not ‘content’ being held, like, say, two thirds of the game world. Everything that’s fun is unlocked from the get go – you just need the money to buy it or be able to find it, everything that exaggerates that fun is unlocked as you go – and that’s probably the best way to progress an open world game.
The world of Saints Row seems to be build in an extremely modular way. Each car looks to be randomly generated from a list of possible parts – so while you might have a Lamborghini clone it could be hard top or soft top or have a split roof. It might have different colour rims to body work. It might have a lower bumper and a bigger exhaust. And when you get a car you can take it to a mechanic and pick out all these things to make one perfectly suited to you. Then you can do the same to your outfit, and yourself. Anything from an obese wrestler with an Hispanic female accent to a business man in a zombie mask is possible.
Chaos and stupidness
The best thing, really, is how chaotic and stupid Saints Row 2 can get. I went through a phase of grabbing people and throwing them into the sea. There is a mini-game where you drive a flaming quad-bike with the sole aim of setting things on fire. I stopped a fight between Pirates and Ninjas. I jumped out of a helicopter, deployed a parachute and watched as the helicopter fell onto a police car – something I could never have planned for. As more police turned up to take me down my gang stepped in – all dressed as pimps and hookers – and a street level fire fight broke out. It never stops. You are always on the brink of chaos and Saints Row is more than willing to throw something ridiculous at you just because it’s funny.
Saints Row 2 is by no means perfect. Hell, as soon as you put a proper critical hat on it nearly falls apart. But it doesn’t. There’s something here that has kept me ploughing in hours – it’s fun and ridiculous and the perfect way to blow off steam after all the seriousness in my current ‘to play’ list. File it next to something like Predator – it’s not Citizen Kane by any means but that doesn’t mean you can’t sit back and just enjoy it, no matter how ridiculous it is.