by Patrick Steinmann
previewed on PS3
What would the thug life be without the tools of the trade? Shotguns, pistols, SMGs, machine guns… all you ever wanted and more. Not to mention a host of melee weapons such as the infamous katana or the stun gun. We are not quite sure why Volition would include a non-lethal weapon in the game but this might hint at kidnapping missions or something along those lines. Returning to very much lethal weapons, you can also look forward to the staple weapons of every maniacal shooter game: the chainsaw and the flamethrower (Multiplayer is sounding better and better…). Additionally, expect to be using satchel charges (the fun kind, those that stick to their targets) and bazookas if you’re aiming (pardon the pun) for the big “wow!”.
Additionally, we have learned that you can use enemies, friends or bystanders as human shields. Judging by gameplay footage this can profound effects on your enemies’ morale. Notably, the Sons of Samedi at one point more or less refused to shoot at the main character as he was using one of their own as a shield. This neat little trick should add some new options to firefight tactics and is definitely a welcome addition.
When you’re trying to take on Grand Theft Auto, you’ve got to be on the ball in the vehicles department. Saints Row 2 certainly is. Just about every vehicle imaginable is in this game. Planes, trucks, jet skis, cars, motorcycles, boats? You name it, you’ll find it. Don’t forget to look around for some fun stuff, like armored personnel carriers, monster trucks, or moon buggies. We are not quite sure how the last one got in there, but boy are we looking forward to it.
If we are to judge by what we have seen, some very in-depth tuning will be possible. Both performance and looks should be able to be improved in dramatic fashion. We saw some very cool paint jobs and custom parts, so we are hoping that’ll carry over into the final release.
The final release will feature at least 40 missions. That may sound like your average number, but expect to find lots of playable side missions and tasks as well, like police missions. This should significantly boost overall playing time and add some diversity to the game. As before, new missions are unlocked by earning Respect. Earning Respect is done in different ways, although most of them apparently involve doing all sorts of crazy activities, such as car surfing, posing as a cop or busting sex offenders. Of course, money also plays an important role in unlocking missions, and lets you upgrade your housing and looks to earn even more Respect.
Volition has promised a host of multiplayer modes, while also saying they have learned from the experiences made in Saints Row 2. We are expecting the usual team-based competitive multiplayer modes (Fortress Defense, Headhunting, that sort of thing), along with a complete free-for-all mode that lets you just have fun with your friends and raise hell along the way.
The whole game can be played in co-op mode. A neat feature is that you and the person you are cooperating with don’t actually have to be at the same point in the game. You can rather “jump ahead” and co-op with a friend to play a mission from the future, and when you reach that mission yourself later in the game, you will be able to skip it. Again, a nice feature that should make this title all the more entertaining.
All in all, Saints Row 2 looks to be a solid title. Okay, so the concept is overblown. And yeah, the entertainment may be on a low level at times (we can’t quite see the point behind earning Respect for shooting passersby in the groin). And yet, if Volition and THQ can come up with a good storyline, and perhaps some decent humor, we’d probably get over the cartoony graphics and overtly unrealistic action. And if the gameplay and multiplayer options hold up, this title may very well be a great success.