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Saints Row 2

Ignore the Grand Theft Auto IV hype for just a moment. Just a second! Saints Row was the first to bring sandbox crime capers to the next-gen, and damned if the results weren’t surprisingly good. Great even. More than a GTA clone, the original game packed in hours of explosive misbehavior, an above average storyline, and was consistently fun from beginning to end. Lo and behold, it looks as if Saints Row 2 will return with all the Boom necessary for a proper gangland killing spree.

Our demo revealed a brand new gang: the Caribbean-flavored Sons of Samedi. They control a contraband substance known as Dust, and to put food on your fellow thugs’ table, you’ve got to seize control of their syndicate. The developers were careful not to tamper with the run-and-gun control scheme that we loved from the first game. Thankfully, you may still pick off thugs while dodging bullets with all the gusto of Keanu Reeves in a Starter Jacket, but they’ve also added an over-shoulder, crosshair perspective for an even more accurate execution utilizing cover. Nice.

The ballistics didn’t end there. We got to see the satchel bombs used in - where better - a trailer park. The deliciously devious explosives can be attached to just about anything, in almost any number, and detonated at any time. Place one on the hood of a car, and you’ll get to drive your very own missile. Just remember to jump out before you hit the exploderize button. (Though, accidents do happen. So all hail Saints Row 2's mid-mission savepoints, a feature the previous game frustratingly lacked.)

Attaching several satchel charges to a single person yields even more interesting results. You can time their detonations to juggle the poor asshole skyward, in the same satisfying way that landed you an Achievement in Crackdown. A more subtle observation was witnessing the walking time-bomb’s panicked realization that his life was about to end, and the AI his friends exhibited in getting the hell away!

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