Saints Row 2 review

A gang-warfare variety show makes its not-so-smooth PC debut

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Once you dig into those story missions, you’re in for a jarring juxtaposition. The main story, despite all its quippy dialogue, deals with brutal gang warfare and dramatic killings of sympathetic characters. (It’s the best way to inspire vengeful rampages.) This clashes a bit with the goofiness of the side missions and the character customization, adding bipolar disorder to the game’s sociopathic issues. The B-actor-studded voice cast does an excellent job, though.

Both story and side missions involve a lot of vehicular combat, ramming other cars and firing out of windows at suicidal speeds. This is the best action of the game (combat on foot is nothing special, except for the ability to use people as human shields) and yields some awesome moments - firing behind you and successfully sniping the driver of a pursuing car, or the less-subtle approach of blowing the whole thing to hell, never gets old. Driving is very forgiving, with nothing even resembling Newtonian physics getting in the way of your crazy stunts, jumps, and high-speed head-on collisions.

The zaniness of the side missions carries over into multiplayer, with a grab-bag mode that quickly rotates through team-based competitive modes, including an armed race, picking up prostitutes and escorting them to johns, and the obvious demolition derby. The problem with the multiplayer is that the shooting action fails to stand out from the crowd in any way, and the driving is marred by concessions like instantly popping in and out of cars with no animations, making it feel unpolished. The co-op option is more compelling, though the game doesn’t adjust difficulty or the story at all to accommodate the second player - he’s just kind of there.

Saints Row 2 doesn’t offer up a particularly compelling world or story, making it short on memorable moments, but while you’re playing, it does go out of its way to make sure you’re never bored by means of sheer quantity of action and variety of gameplay. However, because of technical issues with the port and a lack of enhancements to take advantage of the PC’s hardware, the PC version isn’t Saints Row 2 at its best.

PC Gamer scores games on a percentage scale, which is rounded to the closest whole number to determine the GamesRadar score. In this particular case, the number was rounded down due to the PC version’s specific issues.

PCG Final Verdict: 75% (good)

Jan 6, 2009

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DescriptionThis anti-GTA IV doesn't have the technical niceties (graphical hiccups abound) or Oscar-worthy story of Rockstar's magnum opus, but wins on pure fun factor and gleeful silliness. Co-op is huge fun and the character creation tools are immense. Score one for the Third Street Saints.
Platform"Xbox 360","PS3","PC"
US censor rating"Mature","Mature","Mature"
UK censor rating"Rating Pending","Rating Pending","Rating Pending"
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)