Controlling an area also allows you to buy stores and earn money from them. This creates a secondary revenue stream which you can use to buy more weapons, food (health), and cribs. Volition has gone all out with the crib controls in Saints Row 2 as you can customize every thing from the style of the apartment to the size of the TVs. You can even choose the types of stripper poles you want in your crib. Why is this important? The Cribs (along with the clothes you wear) increase your style ranking. When your style ranking is high enough you get an added respect bonus for completing missions and activities.
The big selling point of Saints Row 2 is the drop-in/drop-out co-op play which is extremely well executed. You just fire up the game, select co-op, and then the game shows you which of your friends are playing the game and are available. You send and invite to them and once they accept you are immediately added to their game as long as they aren't in the middle of a mission or activity. If they are in the middle of something you have to wait until they are done before the game will let you join. Once you're in though you can do everything in the single player campaign and having a buddy along for the ride is a lot of fun. John and I played through significant parts of the storyline and through several of the activities together and it worked flawlessly. There were times where John and I just drove around the city taunting and shooting people, laughing hysterically while we did it which means either the game is a lot of fun or John and I are easily amused...you pick.
The co-op system doesn't seem to allow way point sharing as John and I would try to set markers for each other but couldn't see them on the map. It was a little frustrating to tell John to go to the waypoint and then have hime wonder where it was. The game also ratchets up the difficulty quite a bit when you have a second player in a game so make sure you've got someone good playing with you as you'll need the extra help (I'll be nice but the game did really overestimate John's skill level).
Another exemplary part of Saints Row 2 is the character creator. While the ability to completely customize characters down to the height of their eyes before has appeared in other games, Saints Row 2 takes it a step further by allowing you to customize how they walk, talk, taunt, and their default facial expression. Knowing that Saints Row 2 was a completely amoral game I wanted to take a tame corporate mascot and use them to re-claimStilwater as kind of a twist on the "Stay Puft Mashmallow" man. I ended up picking a Columbus corporate icon and creatied a coked out version of Wendy from the Wendy's burger chain. Coming up with a gaunt, well trafficked facade was easy enough but what really put it over the top was the "Insane" facial expression and pimp walk. I was able to complete the look by adding a "tramp stamp" at one of the tattoo parlors in the game but unfortunately one that said "Ronald was here" wasn't available in the game.
The PS3 version does include a few motion control goodies as you can use the SIXAXIS motion control to pilot boats and helicopters. They aren't bad but I turned them off after trying them out for the first time. It's not that they are bad uses of the system but the control felt a little tighter with thethumbsticks . It is odd that they didn't incorporate the SIXAXIS controls for when you have to shake a paint can in the game in the spray painting portion of the game but I'm glad that Volition was smart enough to give people the option to turn the motion control off. Volition also didn't see fit to add Trophy support to the game so those of you looking for them are going to have to look else where.
Graphically the game is not much of an improvement over the previous game. They weren't bad bad but don't go in expecting high end graphics. The game does run really well for the most part as I only experienced a few slowdowns. That said the graphics for the city are very well done and each part of down has it's own distinct look and feel. You know when you're in a low class part of Stilwater or when you're in the University area as you just have to look at the people, the buildings, and the cars in the area. I'm not sure who's runs the Stilwater Home Owner's Association but they are doing a bang up job.
The audio in the game is rock solid as not only do the firefights sound good but Volition didn't skimp on the voice actors as there are several B name actors on the voice over roster. I actually thought twice before putting the character played by Neil Patrick Harris down. The musical sound track is also very solid with enough variety to keep everyone happy. I would have loved to have the option to create my own playlist from MP3's on my PS3 hard drive but I did find enough likable tunes in the game to keep me happy.
Saints Row 2 is a solid game that I had a lot o fun playing. It's not perfect by any means and the over the top violence and language sometimes takes away from the game. It's almost like they are trying too hard at points in the game. There's a lot to like in the game and the game is an easy recommendation if you have a buddy to play with or if you're looking for a sandbox game with an edge.
More On:Saints Row 2
Another solid outing for Volition as they've cranked out a game that is a lot of fun to play. The co-op features and character creator are great features but the game could use another level of graphical polish.
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