Saints Row 2 is often hailed as a saviour when put up against Grand Theft Auto 4’s shift towards a more serious, realistic game. Personally, I prefer GTA4 for numerous reasons, but I still love Saints Row 2 for its wacky, insane… everything. I was a huge (if underage) fan of the classic GTA games on the PS2 and, like all other such huge fans, I spent ridiculous amounts of time just messing around in the world.[drop]I did the same thing in GTA4 but it had a more restrained feeling whilst I was doing so (for obvious reasons) – the gunplay was better and it looked prettier but nothing ever quite approached the idiocy of spawning 15 tanks outside a police station and watching the chaos as cars inexplicably drive into them, instantly exploding. Not to mention the missions, a favourite of mine being anything in which I used a remote controlled helicopter to blow something up. That was always fun.
This ridiculousness is what Saints Row 2 continued. Whilst the GTA games did actually have a lot of intelligence behind the craziness, SR2 pretty much took the craziness, gave it crazy-steroids and set it loose. What resulted were mini-games that involve (literally) shooting excrement at buildings, kicking people in the crotch (again, literally) and choosing the sexiest, most sensually feminine walk for your dress-wearing, mohawk-sporting male character. It was ridiculous, immature, stupid and down-right brilliant.
Seriously, it’s difficult not to smile whilst you’re playing SR2. It’s all so over the top that it brings out the same unsure smiles that the likes of Team America: World Police does when you watch it. It’s in bad taste and it’s been done on purpose, but it’s still utterly enjoyable. Now the game is far from perfect, as the handling is all a bit floaty (both in cars and on foot) and the controls can be difficult, but when you’re busy crotch-kicking it all melts away into this perfect storm of lunacy that somehow manages to remove all the growing up I’ve done over the years and just lets me thoroughly enjoy shooting shit at cop cars.[drop2]Other mini-games include protecting celebrities on the red carpet by picking up and throwing people off of it and ‘ho-ing’, in which you have sex with a hooker complete with hilarious voice overs (no, seriously). Alternatively, if you’re anything like me, you’ll make your own challenges – such as throwing a civilian as far as you can, jumping over things in a vehicle (more points for slower vehicles) and just causing general chaos.
Interestingly, the game also features a few famous voices, such as Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse), Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) and Daniel Dae Kim (Lost). That probably won’t make much difference to you, but it’s a nice bit of trivia anyway. Most importantly, however, is that Saints Row the Third releases on Friday. Whether you’re unable to get it due to the ridiculous torrent of games releasing at the moment and need to console yourself or if you just want to get yourself ready for it with some insanity, Saints Row 2 is the perfect choice.
It’s £10 on Steam and is available in the PlayPack bundle on OnLive. Specs are through the link.