Reviewer surprised by Saints Row 2

Danny Andrews

Danny Andrews

Grade: B+

I didn’t want to like Saints Row 2. I convinced myself that it would be just a poor imitation of Grand Theft Auto. I brainwashed myself so much that I almost didn’t realize how much fun I was having. The GTA series may be considered the Steven Spielberg of video games, but Saints Row is the Michael Bay. It may not win any critical awards, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

Saints Row starts with you waking from your coma in jail, the victim of a bombing accident from the first game. You quickly escape from jail, helped by your new recruit Carlos, and discover the Third Street Saints, your gang, isn’t quite what it used to be. The Saints’ fall from grace is about to be eclipsed by its meteoric rise with you at the helm.

And what a dynamic leader you are. The game features an impressive character creator where you can customize everything from hairstyle, body weight or even the distance between your eyes. The city quaked with fear whenever my balding, 300-pound hoodlum with a Latina woman’s voice strapped on his gun for battle.

Battling gangs and playing side missions are the bread and butter of Saints Row 2. The newest feature to be included is co-op play. Every mission can be undertaken with a friend. With four gangs to topple and hundreds of side missions, you would be amazed how quickly the hours can slide by. Missions range from simple “storm the stronghold” to “spray sewage on properties to reduce property value.” Seriously.

In fact, one of the complaints about the game is one aimed at most sandbox games: sometimes, there just isn’t enough direction. I had logged in 10 hours and had only met with my gang three times. Also, for a game about reclaiming your position as the untouchable gang in the city, you’re pretty much a one-man army. The second mission places you inside a packed, highly publicized courtroom to rescue your second-in-command. You waltz in, plug every officer and bystander, grab your friend and waltz out. After the mission, there’s no sense of laying low. The suspension of disbelief is set pretty low at this point; so later in the game you have no qualms believing it’s pretty easy (and safe!) to get your hands on toxic waste.

Saints Row 2 is for gamers who like their characters outlandish, their violence over the top and their dialog filled with f-bombs. If you want a serious, dramatic look into the life of organized crime and gang warfare, look somewhere else. But, if you want to have fun and play one of the best games on the 360 right now, then look no further than Saints Row 2.