PS3 Reviews: Saints Row 2 Review

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Saints Row 2 Review

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Replay Value:



Online Gameplay:



Overall Rating:       7.7







Number Of Players:

1 (12 Online)



When the original Saints Row launched on the Xbox 360 back in 2006, it was the first next-gen attempt at a Grand Theft Auto-style adventure. Most critics and gamers found the title to be a solid and entertaining game with plenty of attitude and flash, although this year, Grand Theft Auto IV clearly reset the bar. Hence, Saints Row 2 faces supremely stiff competition – despite the fact its almost six months removed from GTAIV’s release – and in all honesty, it’s more difficult to compare the two than initially expected. What you’re looking at in this highly anticipated sequel is a game that emphasizes chaos and completely unrestrained criminal acts, which in turn creates a production that feels more cartoon-y and arcade-y than GTAIV. Now, this distinct difference may appeal to those who felt constrained by the more authentic feel of Rockstar’s gem, but Volition falters a bit when it comes to solidifying sound technicals and controls. Saints Row 2 is certainly fun, but in other ways, we found it somewhat disappointing.

First of all, it’s clear the graphics received a definite touch-up as the character models are better, there’s enhanced city and background detail, and although the cut-scenes aren’t overly polished, they’re mostly accomplished. Unfortunately, much like with the gameplay, a variety of technical issues plague the overall visual presentation and they can be difficult to ignore. Clipping is a common problem, as is pop-in, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. This isn’t as refined as we would’ve hoped, but the good news is obvious: with so much going on, you’re not likely to nitpick over the graphical inconsistencies, which are admittedly small, and don’t typically impact the fun factor. There just isn’t a whole lot of get excited about; the color seems a little bland and drab, and in general, Stilwater simply lacks the realism and authenticity of Liberty City. There aren’t anywhere near enough vehicles or pedestrians, too much of the expansive town appears repetitious, and we just weren’t impressed with the design. Even so, for what the developers were gunning for, this palette works just fine. You’ll see why below…

The sound is markedly better thanks to excellent voice acting, crisp sound effects that continually drag you into the action, and a diverse and kick-ass soundtrack. Plenty of established actors cement the voiceover cast, and while we experienced a lack of balance between certain effects when things are hectic, we’re not about to complain. The sound really injects a sense of in-your-face urgency, and when you step inside a vehicle, you’ve got plenty of radio stations; everyone will find something to enjoy. In this respect, Saints Row 2 eclipses GTAIV in our mind, only because we don’t particularly enjoy modern-day music, and we had all sorts of options in Saints Row 2. We could choose to listen to everything from classical to heavy metal to hip-hop to ‘80s, and that’s just plain awesome. Much appreciated, especially considering the amount of time we spent in vehicles. The voice acting really is outstanding and the effects punctuate an experience riddled with over-the-top insanity. Balance is the only recurring issue (and sometimes an annoying one), but that’s about it.

At the start of our gameplay analysis of Grand Theft Auto IV, we mentioned the most pronounced and impressive change in the franchise: the emphasis on control. Overall, the player simply needed to be more controlled in every action they undertake, from the driving to the combat to simply wandering around the town. It was a wonderful enhancement and fell directly in line with Rockstar’s claims of “the most realistic GTA ever,” which turned out to be 100% accurate. However, in direct comparison, Saints Row 2 is all about exhibiting a lack of control: police officers and civilians will suddenly and for absolutely no reason break out into firefights in the streets, other drivers will stick a gun out a window and shoot at your car if you hit them, and there’s virtually no strategy whatsoever when it comes to turf wars. Nope, they’re a-comin’ and you gotta take ‘em out, and that’s that. Now, there are two ways to interpret this significant gameplay difference: 1. it’s taking a step backwards from GTAIV, or 2. it allows the game to move faster, allowing for an endlessly entertaining experience with virtually no downtime.

After playing for quite some time, we don’t really side with either conclusion, although we do find ourselves leaning towards Option 1. First of all, if the gameplay as a whole was as super refined as it was in GTAIV, we’d most certainly lean in the other direction, because Saints Row 2 really does move at an excellent pace. But the gameplay isn’t as tight, and it isn’t as accessible. While we could utilize an excellent cover system in GTAIV, due to the apparent lack of AI in this game here, there’s not much “covering” going on. You can crouch, but besides hitting the R3 button for more accurate aiming, there’s not a whole lot here, and the controls are…well, we want to say “slipperier.” Sometimes the camera got in the way in GTAIV, but that can happen in Saints Row 2 as well, and we found ourselves missing the tightness of the controls in the better sandbox-style game. The driving physics were also better in GTAIV, although we didn’t have too much trouble with the cars in Volition’s effort. Still, does anyone know how to change the view when driving…? Because we couldn’t find it, and that was irritating. We didn’t want to be that close.

See, everything just seems so out of control in this game. At first, it was somewhat jarring, but we did get used to it, and we did have plenty of fun in doing so. The first time you land a headshot and you hear that gut-churning gush of blood coming from the skull wound, you’re going to cringe. Then you’re going to watch your partner grab a foe, take a shotgun, and extinguish the enemy’s life with shocking execution-style brutality. Not a single solitary soul has an ounce of morality, and many will argue that’s part of the appeal. Once can argue that side of it, but we maintain that without a compelling set of characters, one can quickly grow tired of the premise. After a while, we weren’t playing to see what happens next in the story; we were simply playing because we wanted to create more havoc. Granted, that is a big draw, and we’re not about to lie and say we were discouraged with everything in the game; that’d be both inaccurate and unfair. But Niko Bellic was an intriguing main character, as was his situation. Your character in Saints Row 2 can be customized to the gills, yes, but we never really cared one jot what happened to him.

Things do pick up in the storyline later on, though, and previously boring characters quickly become more interesting. That’s a great incentive to keep playing, and the other incentive is obvious: you can check out more of Stilwater and build up your rep with every passing minute. It seems as if everything you do wins you extra respect – that includes running over pedestrians and running around shooting wildly at anything that moves – and you’ll need that respect to access new missions. Furthermore, with all the extra goodies to be located, all you would-be virtual gangsters will always have something to do. You can wander around trying to find every last one of those 50 Tag spots (fending off annoyed rival gangs in the process), pimping out your favorite ride at the nearest garage, acting as a pimp, and racing like a madman to establish your road superiority. There’s never any shortage of activities and that’s a huge benefit for all gamers, especially those who complained of an occasional lack of direction in GTAIV. In this way, Saints Row 2 holds a great deal of almost universal appeal.

However, several glitches just kept annoying us. For example, in the first hour of play (the first hour), our vehicle became immovable when it got stuck on an object that wouldn’t stop a bicycle. Then, our partner at the time got stuck trying to get out of the vehicle, and because we couldn’t move it, everything came to a crashing halt. It also wasn’t much of a challenge to weed out the unruly gangsters in the streets, primarily because they had about as much sense as a pack of rabid gerbils. Thing is, some people will get a huge kick out of those loose-cannon, winner-take-all, brutal-as-possible criminal endeavors, while others will tire of the constant and seemingly senseless massacres. Many of the missions had no rhyme or reason to them, and all we did was shoot a lot of people. Sure, there were a few of these in GTAIV, too, but for the most part, the missions were more diverse and, in our opinion, more intriguing. We wanted to see where things were headed, we wanted to know who Niko was seeking. Here, we’re supposed to reunite the Saints and get sh** rolling again.

Well, okay. Like we said, this may be more subjective than anything in terms of enjoyment factor, but the technical glitches are tough to ignore. The vehicle controls aren’t fantastic, running around on foot works just fine although you move a tad too slowly in R3 super-aim mode, and in most cases, the AI is non-existent. The glitches just kept piling up, too. We’re in a massive firefight in this building, and a gangster tries to come running through a doorway, but gets stuck in – get this – the curtain. He just keeps running into it over and over, which was downright comical. Then there’s the shotgun-toting policeman who just starts firing on this woman with a handgun; completely random, out in the street. They stand three feet apart from each other and blast away for a loooong time…of course, neither dies because apparently, they’re all cardboard cutouts until you get involved. But hey, dual-wielding is always fun, isn’t it? The good does indeed outweigh the bad, but the bad makes it painfully clear that this game simply isn’t in the same universe as GTAIV.

Saints Row 2 is a fun, absorbing, guilty pleasure that, for the most part, remains fresh and entertaining throughout. The story isn’t too bad at all, the voiceovers are great, the atmosphere is spot-on, and we just love the soundtrack. But the controls are iffy, the flaws and glitches are a significant irritant that can impact your enjoyment, the graphics are okay but disappointing in some respects, and there’s often a lack of purpose. As we said right at the start, this is basically a cartoon-ier version of GTA with an emphasis on gratuitous violence and some sexual content. It’s the kind of game that will hook a certain audience but will eventually grow wearisome for another, and it really just depends on your own personal taste. From a technical standpoint, this sequel isn’t overly impressive and even a flat-out letdown in some ways, but there’s no denying the underlying appeal. We can’t overlook that, but we’re not about to overlook the other stuff, either.

10/20/2008 Ben Dutka

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New Comment System

Legacy Comment System (31 posts)

Monday, October 20, 2008 @ 10:29:07 PM

This really just solidified the impressions I already got from this game, gonna have to take a pass.

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 10/20/2008 10:32:11 PM

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karneli lll
Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 12:11:37 AM

feels more of a gta 4 vs saints row 2 article than a review, but it speaks true of saints row 2

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 12:33:27 AM

To me Saints Row 2 would have been perfect if they could have just made it look as nice as GTAIV. All the elements of fun and random mayhem are there that were missing in GTAIV but the game, mainly the vehicular side, just looks garish. The textures on the cars are bad and don't even have reflections. The controls for the cars are very clunky and unrealistic as well.

I think if they could have polished the vehicular side of the game it would have been a strong contender.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 5:36:28 AM

Well said!

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 1:24:25 AM

Saints Row in general cannot compete against GTA.... They will never be as good

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 5:37:36 AM

u know wat time it is a.k.a u know wat's up.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 7:44:30 AM

Must be why I like Saints Row 2 alot more than GTA4.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 1:58:50 AM

saints row 2 reminds me alot like the true crime games. the graphics and game play seem like its the same.

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Common Cence
Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 4:39:00 AM

I actually like Saints Row 2 over GTA4. I mean everything they took out of San Andreas they probably have it in SR2. SR2 has a lot of activities that are fun, unrealistic but fun. Plus yeah the cars could be more detailed and much more easy to drive but being able to customize them makes up for that flaw, and the only reason they couldn't compete with GTA4 is the budget given to their respective developers.

But hey that is only my opinion.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 5:27:09 AM

This ISN'T GTA. GTA is mentioned 14 times, yet the creators of the game mentioned time and time again that it's not meant to be GTA.

P.S. GTA IV wasn't fun, and too realistic, but that's another matter.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 7:46:25 AM

I agree. How can the reviewer complain about Saints Row environments being bland and repetitive when GTA4 was all about brown and being so dark I couldn't see what was happening much of the time. I far prefer SR2.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 3:31:20 PM

please did u ever see "DISPLAY SETTINGS",don't be complainin bout darkness,okay?

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 10:15:55 PM

I did try that, it was still too dark.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 5:55:21 AM

Meh i got bored of GTAIV so i doubt i wll be getting this.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 7:49:04 AM

I got bored easily with GTA myself, but this game has really captured my interest. I love Saints Row 2.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 6:26:02 AM

i like this game.. if you got bored for GTA4.. ask yourself why?

i say that because Saints Row 2 has something that GTA left behind two games ago. its not enough to make it a must have.. its not enough for you to spend your whole life playing, but its certrainly enough to make you lol and lose yourself in.

the chainsaw action is the best chainsaw action of any game bar none, its amazing. the level of detail in things that should of really been in GTA4 is in SR2.. like the pad, character.. weapons.. humour.

GTA4 for me is certainly the better game, and like Mercs 2, SR2 falls short of anything amazing. GTA4 is much better, but then they had more time, skill and money behind the project.

theres things that are bloody annoying in SR2 that really shouldnt be, like what was said about the clipping .. cars and general movement. but once youre at peace with these things you start to relax and enjoy the fun bits.

if you want a laugh and like these sort of games, and find GTA has lost something in translation.. i recommend you pick up SR2, even if its for a rent.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 7:50:37 AM

I can't tell you how many times I laughed while playing SR2, it's chock full of humor. I couldn't stop laughing the first time Take on Me by Aha came on the radio and my character actually started singing (badly) along with it, it's a great little touch.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 7:53:25 AM

Is this a review for Saints Row or GTA? C'mon, I know people worship at the altar of GTA but I was quite disappointed with that game. I can't quit playing SR2. After initial disappointment with the LBP delay, I was elated to realize that gave me more time in the Row.

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Common Cence
Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 8:36:04 AM

Same here. I mean SR2 has a greater focus on "fun" rather than realism.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 8:58:32 AM

I 100% agre wit common and cee dot. Please to any of u guys that haven't played SR2 yet please don't listen to these neg people. If u were a huge fan of San andreas than pick this game up, I'm sorry let me correct my self, PICK THIS GAME UP IF U LOVE VICE CITY AND SAN ANDREAS! If u more or less love Gta 3 and IV than SR2 isn't the game for u.

The CO-OP player mode alone makes this game at least a score of 8. I never had so much fun playin a sandbox, free roaming game until I was running around wit my boy, completeing missions.

And glitches that were found in the game come on now. There were plenty of times on GTA I fell through the ground or got stuck in stairs.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 10:23:09 AM

Buckeye: You can stop pushing your love for SR2 now; we got it in the first comment. The point is very simple- in a game OBVIOUSLY designed in the same style of GTA, it fails on a technical level to achieve. That is not subjective; Saints Row 2 isn't even in the same galaxy. Everything else you're talking about is completely subjective, which I said is a major deciding factor in the review.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 10:21:43 PM

The opinion (and that is all that it is) that GTA is better is just as subjective. I'm just sayin', mentioning GTA 18 times in this review only bespeaks fanboyism.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 11:35:35 AM

Well I thought the GTA story was rather dull as well. Niko definitely has a more intriguing back story compared to say CJ in SanAndreas but still nonetheless is very similar. Idk, maybe the ending of GTA4 made it better, but I still have yet to finish the game because it’s so repetitive and lacking anything new.

I'm sorry, I was not happy at all with GTA4. I wanted to say that I loved it when my friends asked how it was, yet I knew I didn't... even from the very beginning.

Last edited by Daedusian on 10/21/2008 11:37:47 AM

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 12:10:57 PM

i have played GTA IV, but doubt how this is goin to be, hope itz fun enough been of the things been said

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 1:10:07 PM

I have played GTA4 and completed it, the story got me immersed right away and I always wanted to know what was going to happen to Nico Bellic as each mission passed.
Saints Row 2 I am pleased I bought it but it is not as good to me as GTA4 was but this does not mean that I am enjoying playing it, as I am. I have decked out my pad (something different to be done than in GTA4) as I have done myself ie tattoos n bling etc even some swish clothing (ok this was done to a degree in previous GTA's) I had a feeling this was not going to be as good as GTA4 but bare in mind this is Saints Row 2, GTA4 is technically GTA 6 so Rockstar have had plenty of time to iron out issues etc and in a way it is a pity for SR2 as it would have meant 2 great similar games for us as gamers but and I repeat BUT the fun stuff in SR2 makes up for the game not being as good, well it does to me anyway.
I have only got one gripe, getting stuck for me is par for the course with any game but my main gripe and it is my only one but this sets this game apart otherwise it would be just like GTA and PLEASE NOTE it is not a bug or a fault with the game but I simply don't like like having to build up my reputation when I want to get on with the missions to find out what happens to the Saints etc but I am sticking with it as I like the story about the Saints and want to know how the story will progress so not being able to rush straight into mission after mission is a good thing and I am getting used to it each time I play. Overall if you like any GTA game you will or should like this game as its a lot of fun to play. Maybe Saints Row 3 will fix the errors if they do decide to do one, I for one hope they do. If your still unsure have a try before you buy to set your mind at rest and save money before splashing out.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 3:44:57 PM

Thank you very much Ben for the review n makin things clear dat GTAIV is the better.
I hope a studio would come out n outshine GTA,maybe the one responsible for True Crime but at the same time Getaway 3 didn't even make it,so for now accept the fact dat GTAIV is the best,hell check out the rankings, GTAIV is the best PS3 game to date period,true story!

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 5:03:11 PM

Ben, I'm a little disappointed that you failed to mention the fact that this game failed to ship with trophy support. Volition had said that it would indeed support trophies at launch but then failed to deliver. When prompted for a response on the Volition forums as to whether this would be added via a patch at a later date, the response given was "There is no answer to that question at this time". I had planed to buy this the day it came out untill I discovered that they had left out trophies. After playing the 360 version at a friends house, I'm glad I didn't buy it. The lack of trophy support coupled with subpar graphics and subpar gameplay make this a very weak game at best. I'll just wait for Rockstar to add the trophy patch for GTAIV and replay the masterpiece they created. For anyone that has $60 burning a hole in thier pockets, pick up either Dead Space or Bioshock instead. You will not regret it.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 5:12:43 PM

The inclusion of Trophies has no bearing on the quality of a game, as far as I'm concerned. It might be nice to have, but if they were there, it wouldn't alter the score.

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Deleted User [Administrator]
Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 7:48:58 PM

Ben its my kind of game!!

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008 @ 12:12:11 AM

Question: is the main story longer than the 1rst game's? It always felt short once you cut out all the forced side quests.
I'll prolly get it eventually either way tho. I was looking forward to GTA for over a year and am really let down at how unfun it actually is. I've had it for months now and am not even half way done. Every time I pick it up I end up not being able to wait to put it back down, most of SA's missions were just miles more fun to play despite it looking pitiful by comparison. Plus, beyond the online, the replay value has fell through the floor, which could have been avoided somewhat if they'd payed attention to my, and prolly others, oh so simple idea of finally implementing a mission select, tho they did do what I've been saying for ages on another front and made guns expensive but bullets cheap. The most inconsiderate thing of all tho is no custom soundtrack. Just because they spent ludicrous amounts on theirs doesn't mean its good, that much is painfully obvious. So ya, I'm sure both games could have been much better, GTA isn't all that.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008 @ 11:14:31 AM

I like them both..I got GTA4, i will pick up SR2 if i can catch a black friday sale.

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