Friday, August 17, 2012

Saints Row 2 [Game][PC]

Amount Completed: All on-map missions (not all the activities). I played the game using the Gentlemen of the Row modification (the standard set) in hopes of avoiding many of the issues that apparently plagued the PC port. 

Story: Saints Row 2 (SR2) follows the leader of the Saints gang breaking out of prison and re-establishing their power over the city of Stilwater. Along the way the Saints have to battle with 3 gangs (Brotherhood, Sons of Samedi, and the Ronin) and one 'gang-like' police force (Ultor). While the story is mostly over-the-top with parodies of gang activities, the actual events/cutscenes are at times very gritty and dark. I appreciated the dramatic mix and found the lack of ability to choose whether to to perform a given action created a different relationship/association with the character I controlled (unlike SR3 where choices were mine to make). There are some brutally violent twists in the story, especially within the Brotherhood gang storyline.

Unfortunately the beginning of the game was so poorly executed I was close to quitting. Only after progressing a bit in the Brotherhood storyline did I feel it was worth continuing.

Later I found it strange that I apparently opted to ignore the Ronin gang until last. This flowed right into the final few missions against Ultor. The Samedi and Ronin stories were fine but the Brotherhood storyline seemed to deliver the most drama and intrigue (though ridiculous at times). Unlike SR3, most of the game felt a bit underwhelming. The story was not as rushed but definitely felt like it needed a bit more drama/excitement in the end (the final few missions did not exactly make sense). I guess the questions as to "why?" are probably lost on this kind of game/plot. The answer is: "It's an insane gang hell bent on taking over."

Art: SR2 has decent art with the exception of the Johny Gat model and a bit of the Shaundi Character. Johny Gat looked so completely pale and out of place due to his character design I had a hard time taking him seriously. Shaundi on the other hand had some weird art issues with her hair. None of the other characters seemed to stand out as problematic. The city was very populated visually and looked as expected.

Sound: The music of SR2 was fitting but only a few of the songs stood out to me. Also the quality of the music seemed to be very low. While somewhat acceptable to fictionalize radio play it sounded awful when played in the main menu and in a few other instances.

Gameplay: SR2 is an open world game in the spirit of Grand Theft Auto. Throughout the game money and respect are earned. From what I gathered, respect was required to play story missions and earned by playing the side missions. The side missions of the game were familiar to me as many are reused in SR3. I was surprised to find a number that were unique to SR2 that really should have continued into the next game. The FUZZ side missions seemed very entertaining/appropriate (albeit caustic and sarcastic). I was glad to see the septic side mission stayed only with SR2. It was incredibly boring and did not provide the over-the-top entertainment that some of the other activities delivered. To complete the game I actually just played through a couple of the side missions and then stopped. I happened to do just enough to finish the game without running out of respect.

Driving and running around were in-line with my previous expectations of a GTA style game. The combat did not involve anything beyond running and shooting. There was no specific cover system or otherwise. The inclusion of additional gang members (up to three can join you later in the game) was incredibly fun and critical to surviving later in the game. Driving was easy to pick up. Flying a helicopter in the game was not. The controls on the PC resulted in my slamming into buildings and flipping upside down often. One of the helicopter activities was simply impossible for me so I gave up. I could not even get past a few checkpoints of the race. It was not worth the frustration.

The purchase of ammunition was the primary use for money. The actual cost seemed incredibly high for how much you end up using to play through the game. There were also other elements that were unique such as purchasing music for addition to your own custom radio station. I cared so little for much of the soundtrack that I ignored the functionality. 

Gut: SR2 delivers a bit more depth in the story than my experience with SR3 but fails in a few other departments. There are thousands of things to do and I found that I was glad I was able to skip them and continue with the story lines. If you enjoyed SR3 or any of the GTA3 series games then SR2 is worth a try. I highly recommend the Gentleman of the Row (Steam compatible) modification as the PC version was/is plagued with bugs. While not free of bugs the modification undoubtedly helped a lot! There is a lot to do and explore and I probably hardly scratched the surface. I dare say they put too much into the game!