Why Saints Row 2 is the antidote to GTA IV

How many attempts did it take before you successfully finished the Three Leaf Clover bank job in GTA IV? Or the Snowstorm mission, for that matter? We’re going to go ahead and guess “a lot,” because you probably died dozens of times during the incredibly intense firefights that erupted in those missions.

For better or worse, you won’t ever have that problem in Saints Row 2. While Niko could die relatively easily, SR2’s gang-leading protagonist is harder to kill than Rasputin, soaking up bullets like a sponge and regenerating health after just a few seconds of not being shot.

Above: In addition to being super-tough, you can pick up lots of stuff in the environment – like this newspaper rack - and use it as a weapon. We suspect someone on the dev team
 read our wish list. 

On top of that, your enemies are dumb. Really dumb. Oh sure, some of them will try to take cover, but most will just stand still, far away from any cover, taking potshots at you while you drill them fill of holes. And even when they do use rudimentary tactics, it doesn’t really matter, because you can usually kill them all just by charging straight through their bullets and unloading at close range. Is it challenging? Hell no. But it’s never frustrating, either.

Above: Go ahead and hide, asshole. It won’t do you any good

That GTA’s missions were tough was only part of the reason Niko kept dying on us all the time – the other part mostly had to do with the fact that he couldn’t seem to reliably stick to cover. Saints Row 2 addresses that problem by completely omitting any feature that enables you to stick to cover. After all, who needs to duck and hide when you’re a tank?

However, if you’re in a tight spot and running low on health, you have the option of mobile cover, which is a nice way of saying “human shields.” While you’re certainly able to crouch behind cover to get out of harm’s way, sometimes it’s easier to just grab an enemy – which takes zero effort for all but the most powerful opponents – and let them soak up the bullets for you. Or, better yet, convince all your enemies to stop shooting for a little while.

While that’s useful and all, the best part of taking a hostage is disposing of them. If you’re unimaginative, you can do it by shooting them in the face…

Or by simply letting go of the button and throwing them, which is endlessly entertaining. Especially near windows and railings:

This gets even better if you wander into a neighborhood controlled by a rival gang and just start tossing everyone you can get your hands on. Pretty soon, enemy gang-bangers will show up en masse and, well, let’s just say we could do this all day.

Above: Seriously – all day

Now, the obvious question to ask at this point is, “where are the cops while you’re throwing around innocent citizens?” Well, probably they showed up and tried to shoot us, but were killed so quickly by our tagalong gang members that we barely even noticed them.

Above: Yeah! Suck it, meter maid!

Think for a second about GTA IV’s Liberty City Police Dept., and what a holy terror they were. Individually easy to kill, sure, but squad tactics and sharpshooting skills meant Niko could only hold out so long before they took him down. Stilwater’s cops, meanwhile, seemingly only show up when they feel like it, and if they do, it’s easy to mow down dozens of them before things get too crowded and you stand a real chance of being hurt.

Above: Can you imagine this happening to one of Liberty City’s finest?

Even when the cops get aggressive, ditching them is usually as easy as just tearing ass in the opposite direction until your wanted meter gradually shrinks down to nothing and they forget why they were following you. It’s as if putting them in the game at all was an unhappy obligation for the developers. Whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on how much you enjoy being shot at by competent peace officers.

For most players, driving in GTA IV is either something they instantly love, or instantly hate. The cars have a weight to them that takes some getting used to, but once you do, their handling feels realistic, almost comfortable. Very few cars in Saints Row 2 have that kind of gravity, and the faster ones feel like zippy, featherweight toys that can execute high-speed 90-degree turns with zero effort. Of course, that also means that they’re a lot easier to control than GTA IV’s monsters, which have a tendency to slide out of control if you’re not judicious with the handbrake when turning corners.


While the cars’ handling is a love-it-or-hate-it thing, there’s one thing SR2 has all over GTA IV, and that’s the ability to actually keep the cars you steal. In GTA IV, of course, you could park your favorite cars by the curb of your apartment, and they’d stay there until you tried to drive them, wrecked them and/or invariably lost them during a mission.

Saints Row 2 understands the deep emotional attachment people have with their unfeeling hunks of steel, and so it enables you to customize them at any of the game’s body shops, and keep them forever just by driving it back to one of your many garages. And when we say “forever,” we mean forever – you can take them out, abandon them, drive them off a cliff or even blow them up with a rocket, and when you go back to your garage, an identical replacement will be waiting for you.

Above: You can customize and keep ANY stolen car, big rigs and monster trucks excluded


  • dylpickle92 - December 9, 2008 4:59 a.m.

    great article. sure, the graphics arn't as good in saints row then gta4, but i think saints row would be better. gta4, the missions just get so repeditive, right? and the fact that saints row 1 ad 2 are sequal, i think that maes it a whole lot better
  • Jason.Darksavior - October 18, 2008 8:49 a.m.

    This game is so addictive and fun! Love all the activities and diversions.
  • Marioninja1 - October 15, 2008 3:40 p.m.

    No annoying as piss friends, Take on me and Final Countdown, No (proffesional) Liberty City cops stopping my fun...I NEED THIS GAME!
  • Jaydubbbbb - October 14, 2008 11:02 p.m.

    The reason why the graphics arent as good as GTA IV is because SR2 is more focused on the shit you can do, thats why you cant ever really get bored of it, because theres so much random retarded shit to do. You dont need to be immature to play this game, you just have to have a good sense of humor. And for the cellhpone in GTA IV, you never have to accept going out with your buddies to the bar, you can complete the whole story without Lil Jacob ever having any respect for you.
  • wysiwyg - October 13, 2008 9:07 a.m.

    Read the article and all the points he makes just suggest one thing to me, avoid this game like the plague!
  • GamesRadarMikelReparaz - October 13, 2008 8:08 a.m.

    @Ninja-KiLLR: If you hated flying out of your windshield in GTA IV, you will probably hate it just as much in SR2.
  • StupidFaceXD - October 12, 2008 9:20 p.m.

    I loved GTA4, but it was TOO realistic. And you died too easily. But I love GTA and SR. Great article Mike. Keep 'em coming!
  • GodKlown - October 12, 2008 5:22 p.m.

    I've been a fan of GTA since it started, but I came around to SR when it premired on the 360. I really enjoyed the openness to the violence, as well as the customization in the game, not only to the vehicle but also to the character. Buying new clothing or jewelery in SR actually MEANT something, unlike in GTA where it is either just a style change or mission-related. I've even read that the crib will be able to finally be customized, which is something you never saw in GTA. SR2 sounds like it will be at least as fun as the first, if not adding something with the new vehicle options. I don't play these games for the realistic quality, but for the fun of it! What ever happened to playing games for that factor?
  • SOLIDSNAKE1983 - October 11, 2008 9:23 p.m.

    Looking forward to this after the snooze fest that was GTA IV........Didn't play the first SR, but hopefully this will be a throwback to the San Andreas type of game with jet packs, parachutes and OTT weaponary!!!
  • chrisat928 - October 11, 2008 5:02 a.m.

    It's TOO immature. It's like it was targeted directly at 13 year olds. Oh, and GTA already did the raging sociopath in Vice City. Tommy Vercetti was what you described, but STILL had character and a personality.
  • Tochy - October 11, 2008 3:58 a.m.

    i agree with Defguru7777 this game is only going to be fun for like 10 minutes.
  • TheWebSwinger - October 11, 2008 1:47 a.m.

    Damn. GR likes GTAIV so much they're sucking its dick WHILE they suck another game's dick.
  • Defguru7777 - October 11, 2008 1:22 a.m.

    Wow, this game is going to be fun for all of five minutes.
  • TrIp13G - October 10, 2008 11:28 p.m.

    I ended up with 800,000+ dollars by the time I was done with GTA IV. THE FIRST TIME I FINISHED IT. I'm glad that SR2 is keeping the series' tradition of letting you blow your cash on fast cars and crazy outfits.
  • Crossleft501 - October 10, 2008 10:25 p.m.

    hahaha great article as always Mike
  • Biohazard82493 - October 16, 2008 2 a.m.

    i like a lot both games but gta IV is too realistic and i hate things like "Niko lets play some bowling" i mean come on but whatever long live metal!!
  • mozaralio - October 16, 2008 1:31 a.m.

    Im sorry to say that I think SR2 is way better than GTA IV some others have said that the only people who would enjoy this game is 10-13 year old children well im 15 turning 16 soon and I love SR1 I havent played SR2 yet but im hoping it will be just as good or better also if you need further proof my cousin is 22 and has beat SR1 4 times and still enjoys playing it GTA IV was good up until alot of the missions to me got repetative and or way to long for what they accomplish no offense to you GTA finatics out there but if I got to choose between the two Id go with SR2 and to the stupid kid who said GR loves both games so much theyre sucking both there dicks go f*ck urself. All in all once again great article
  • Ban - October 15, 2008 4:14 a.m.

    Well now i know what oooooooother game im getting this fall
  • GamesRadarMikelReparaz - October 14, 2008 1:15 a.m.

    @uilanman: I believe it was Normal. And I didn't say it happened quickly - only that escaping is as easy as driving in the opposite direction until Notoriety wears off.
  • uilanman - October 13, 2008 7:17 p.m.

    What skill level did you play on Mikel? The hardest option makes things increasingly more difficult, like enemies have a lot more health, cops and gang notoriety take MUCH longer to go away - I ask because you made it sound like it was so easy to just get away from a 3-4 star rating just by driving the opposite direction. That would take a *long* time to wear off, it's not as simple as that... I will say that it's not insanely hard to deal with the police, but you'll find yourself dead a lot more often on the hardest skill setting vs the easier ones, for sure.

Showing 1-20 of 36 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000