Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Xbox 360 - Saints Row 2

Saints Row 2 by THQ

Parental Advisory: This game features mature themes and content. This game is likely best suited for ages 17 and older, but of course the decision is up to the parent.

While I wanted to love this game as much as Saints Row (click for review), it's just not as complete as I wanted it to be. I expected so much more from this game and really got the same gaming experience as Saints Row. That's not a bad thing, but it really should have been more.

Controls and Gameplay

The gaming style and play of this game is identical to that of Saints Row. The button mappings are the same as SR and very similar to the GTA series. That said, THQ really did little to make the gaming experience more than SR. There are some nifty additions to the game, but not enough to make it substantially different than the Saints Row experience.


The one thing that THQ added to SR2 is flying and water vehicles. It's unfortunate, however, that you have to play through the entire game to get the assault chopper (which would have come in handy far earlier in the game). However, you do at least get access to the Oppressor 'copter early enough (of course, no weapons) which speeds up traveling from place to place. Note, you obtain the assault chopper by finishing the last mission of the game. So, this is why you have to play through the entire game to get it.

In networked play, you can use an assault chopper (or any other vehicle) if another networked player has finished the game. They can bring out the assault chopper (or another vehicle) from their garage and let you use it. But, you cannot store their vehicle(s) in your garage. You can only get the assault chopper yourself by finishing the game.

Still, there are issues with the flying vehicles. Namely, while you can store these vehicles specially designed garages, you can only customize land vehicles. I really wanted a chop shop game and a mechanic place to customize the 'copters and watercraft vehicles. Alas, no such modification garages exist.


The mission play works identically, again, as SR. So, you're going after rival gangs and taking over their territory. You must play side missions to gain respect credits to access the main missions. Once you gain enough respect, you can begin playing through the main missions. You can play through the Brotherhood, Samedi and Ronin missions in any order until you get to the each of those respective mission threads. Once that's done, then the Ultor missions open. Once you complete the Ultor missions, you get the Tornado assault chopper.


While the 3D characters do look better and there's more verbal talking from the primary character, it really doesn't enhance the game that much. The movements of the characters were not that improved and the mouth movements are a bit stilted.

What's missing?

Well, lots frankly. I would have preferred to allow limited configuration of the player character up front and force the user to do missions to gain stats, improve physical appearance and change their abilities. Instead, just like SR, THQ opted to use the plastic surgeon to change appearance. So, the whole appearance thing ends up shallow and meaningless. I would have preferred something like if you eat too much you get fat, or you go the gym and workout and build up strength and muscularity. I liked this aspect of GTA San Andreas and was expecting it here. What I don't want to have, though, is forced eating.. so you have to stop by places and have to eat regularly. That really does get in the way of gameplay. But, as part of a gym mission, that would be ok.

In the personality area, THQ could have extended the relationship aspect of the game to allow for actual relationships between various people you meet. So, instead of just taunting and complements, this could have lead into Sims style relationships.

Co-op mode / Xbox Live

While this feature does exist, you have to beware of letting other players into your game. More about that shortly. The two-player gameplay is interesting and can be fun, but only if both players are playing through the game at the same pace. If you get someone in your game who has already completed the game fully, the other player who is still working through the missions will feel like the game is being spoiled.

Ok, so onto the Xbox Live Co-op issue.. Allowing a co-op player into your game with cheats enabled prevents further achievement by either player. When you accept someone into your game who is using cheats, you won't find this out until after-the-fact. This means, by the time the game tells you of the cheats, your game is already screwed. For example, I had just completed a mission (two missions, in fact) and hadn't saved. I got a request for a co-op session and allowed it. Only after I accepted the player in did I find out the player was using cheats. I kicked the user off, had to reload from a previous save and re-do two missions again to ensure cheats were not affecting my game progress. Beware when allowing random players into your game through Xbox Live.

The game really should allow you to prevent players who are using cheats from even connecting to your game or it should tell you of the cheats up front and allow you to kick the player off without affecting your existing game. Basically, if you want to play Saints Row 2 without this issue, turn Xbox live requests to invite only. Otherwise, someone with cheats turned on and who selects quickmatch may find your game and connect to you.


The game tries to be too much like Saints Row, but with only a few updated features. I really wanted more out of this gaming experience than I got with SR. Like, for example, THQ added the Taunt and Compliment features. But, these features are small and minimal making the game experience pretty much the same as Saints Row.

  • Sound: 8/10 (workable, but gets annoying after a while)
  • Graphics 8.5/10 (glitchy, camera problems)
  • Bugginess: 6/10 (many full out lockups towards the end of the game)
  • Controls: 9/10 (reasonable, overall works, could be somewhat better in places)
  • Bang-To-Buck: 3/10 (Might play more just to find details)
  • Overall: 8/10 (could have been so much more)
Note: bugginess is denoted by 1 = most buggy, 10 = least buggy.

1 comment:

webmaster said...

Console great from Xbox 360 Black Friday. If play in great game. I recommend.