Sure you have GTA IV. You can explore an endless NY cityscape, online in free roam, do a lot of missions with but there are many palliative factors that come with a game like GTA IV: a more serious tone, stealthy missions, and annoying tailgates. The in-between? Saints Row 2. Saints Row 2 literally does what it sets out to and brings freedom to an open world game, even if it doesn’t look mind numbing like a GTA IV game but pretty close. Years after the original, you find yourself in a Stilwater tackled with bringing the Saints back as the true kings of Stilwater, ready for retribution and redemption. Players can play who they want, but not just that. They can play with whomever they want in this sequel through on-line co-op or just free-roam the big city and take a break from some other modes. Saints Row 2 does many things that GTA IV just refuses to let players do and is more focused on smaller city settings than bigger cities with thousands of closed doors and dead ends. There’s no break here. Saints Row 2 is showing no bounds while it jumps out of a plane and parachute into shelves.
To start off as the protagonist, you’re going to be accustomed to the limitless customization that tags your gang/union. Play fully customizable characters that are male or female and dress the way you want to dress. For your ride, deck out among different colors, rims, wheels, shaders, wheel grips, literally anything to feature the possibilities of customization. The only real gripes with the customization we have are the voices. Six voices are fine, but games really need to start taking this to the next level. Maybe incorporate a voice-on sequence that varies pitches, etc or something in a reasonable range factor. We’re just so tired of stock voices at this point for a game that does so many other things right. Cribs and even gangs all have an amazing degree of detailed customization options.
The open-world comes with standard missions. From decimating drug farms to shooting your way out of a hospital is in here rather bluntly. Saints 2 does manage to take unexpected missions and lets you play all of them cooperatively online for a nice surprise. We won’t ruin all the fun things you can do in this world of Stilwater but every mission in Saints 2 focuses on action alone: no annoying tailgate missions, or chases like GTA IV. Multistage missions keep the action from going stale and are very forgiving to players who are sick and tired of the same missions resurged over and over in some other free world series. You all know what we’re getting at with this.
One cool thing we need to mention is cruise control for any car drives. The first Saints Row introduced the GPS system that GTA initially lacked, and Saints 2 has another feature here that really innovates. While driving any vehicle, you can set acceleration speeds, allowing for more focus towards what’s happening in the city itself rather than the car. Sure you still have to steer the car, but with practice, cruise control is a big tactical upkeep in vehicular combat.
As for the online modes itself, you will want to skip the typical ones like deathmatch, etc and go right into the Strong Arm mode. Six players face off in a match to raise the most cash by competing in four random activities that include: Race, Insurance Fraud, Matches, etc. Matches bounce from one objective to another and it’ll only be a few minutes before it changes. With a few friends, you will have a lot of fun as Strong Arm focuses on what Saints Row 2 does best: varied mission objectives.
A lot of complaints people will have about Saints Row 2 has nothing to do with the graphics or anything like that: people just think it does not match up to GTA style. Every character is for the most part really generic and bland, no real history like Niko. The city is a shady metropolis with hookers and deadbeats. The radio chatter is not that provacative, and the songs are at least not too bad.
Saints 2 has a ton of innovation, and the presentation is something that anyone can appreciate, even if it is not GTA IV. But that’s where the whole message comes in that Saints Row 2 does not need to be compared to GTA. It is not trying to be GTA, but trying to be a game that holds on its own and does many things differently that show it is a game about a good time in a different perception of a metropolis. There is nothing wrong with that, and it just feels great in the end.