reviewed on X360
Filling in the gaps
Okay, let’s get this out of the way first: Saint’s Row 2 is not as good as Grand Theft Auto IV. Now that’s done, can we all get on with the review?
While GTAIV was lauded as Rockstar’s most recent epic, Saint’s Row 2 developer Volition Inc. saw past the ridiculous amount of high scores and critical acclaim thrown at GTA, and started examining the flaws, and, more importantly, what fans missed from older entries in the series. It seems that they made a giant check-list of everything that wasn’t in GTAIV, and then translated that into a game. And it’s a bloody good one at that.
Forget about fine narrative
Normally I’d start describing a game by giving the basic plot, but in Saint’s Row 2 the narrative is so close to being non-existent that you won’t really care about it, bringing about the first and most obvious contrast with Grand Theft Auto IV. However, this also means that Volition didn’t have to make missions according to any grand story-related set piece, meaning that almost every mission will be completely insane, filled with combat, car chases and sometimes extreme sports. Volition have actually made the perfect counter, and accompaniment to, Rockstar’s free roamer, as they have gone the opposite way, making one of the most ridiculous games of all time.
Easy controls and a lot to do
The shooting mechanics are decent enough for whatever you’ll be required to do in the game, with free aim being the only option available. It works well, and you’ll never be cursing the game for your faults in aiming; it will always be down to you. Other than that, your actions are largely the same as they were in (guess what) GTAIV, enabling you to sprint for a limited time, engage in hand to hand combat, but, surprisingly, you can’t take cover. This can sometimes be an annoyance after we’re now so used to cover systems, but after the strategic side of your brain adapts, you’ll forget all about it’s absence.
But it’s not the controls that matter in a game, it’s what you do with them. And it’s here that Saint’s Row 2 really shines. The game is crammed full of ‘diversions’; side-mission-esque minigames that you can play at your leisure, or not at all. Examples include hostage mission when you hijack a car with a passenger still in it, or car surfing when you jump on the roof of another car. Or maybe you’d rather spray property with sewage, decreasing it’s value? Or you could try base jumping, chucking Molotov cocktails at all and sundry, protecting a celebrity through violent means, pretending to be a copper and beating up criminals, gambling in the casino, or many more. It’s here that the game actually bests GTAIV, as there are so many fun and often hilarious activities on offer you will rarely get bored.
No Pros and Cons at this time