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Saints Row 2

A Badass Sandbox Game

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The Life and Times of a Saints Row Boss

  • Mar 16, 2011
Rating:
+5
DISCLAIMER: To call this a review would be a misnomer. It is nothing more than a love letter.

At first I wanted to write a comprehensive and traditional review of Saints Row 2, my favorite game of the generation. But then I realized you could read those just about anywhere, or read the SR2 wiki. That kind of review doesn't really capture the kind of fun I had while playing the game. So instead, I have decided to describe a chunk of spoiler-free gameplay, as a short story in a pulpy style fitting for the game from the view of my created main character. In between the story, I'll show snippets of gameplay from other player's games to give you a better idea (though reading the entire story first is recommended).

___________________________

It was the damn Ronin again. Those wannabe Asian, katana wielding gangsters, lead by the incompetent son of a wealthy Japanese business man, were trying to take back a neighborhood the Saints had ripped from their hands not too long ago. Annoyed, The Boss finished reading the message and put away her cell phone. Can't a gal fling herself at cars in peace?, she thought. She had just finished committing multiple acts of Insurance Fraud, achieved from getting hit by cars & falling long distances. It's great fun, and a common activity for criminals in the city of Stilwater. But the fun's ended. Only a couple blocks away from her closest crib, she decided to run back for a few homies and a car of her own choosing before she headed to the skirmish. Having just completed the highest level of Insurance Fraud, she discovered that she could sprint forever without getting tired. Yes, because in Stilwater, anyone can run forever after doing enough Insurance Fraud.

Sample of Insurance Fraud Activity:


Soon she found herself back at her crib. Walking inside, she passed a bunch of her underlings, drinking and smoking away, shooting pool, watching strippers. Some were on their laptops. There was a party going on, as usual. They were all wearing Ninja outfits. Why? Because she ordered it. She, on the other hand, was wearing nothing. That's right. She had been running through the streets wearing her birthday suit. And yet everyone on the street greeted her normally, because they knew she owned that neighborhood. When you're the boss of a powerful gang, you can wear anything you like. And that includes wearing nothing at all. Not to mention she was in damn good shape and had nothing to hide. She walked upstairs to her bedroom, the one she never sleeps in, and... played Zombie Uprising on her 50 inch TV. After 5 waves of zombie rushes she suddenly remembered there as a rival gang invading her turf out there somewhere. Oh right. She got up, went to her closet, and decided to put on her long slitted dress, sleek black gloves, and fishnet stockings. Then she ran through her weapon wheel. Metal bat? Check. Shotgun? Check. A pair of .50 caliber pistols? Check. Satchel charges? Check. All set. She stepped into her 6 inch stiletto heels. Wait. Something was missing. She went back to her closet and look around. Sunglasses? No... Ah there it is. She grabbed it and put it on her head. A pair of cat ears. Perfect. Now she was truly ready. Heading downstairs, she spotted 2 of her ninjas sitting at the bar, lost in the crowd of her other drunk ninjas. They look like they need some excitement, The Boss said to herself. She whistled for them, and they jumped out of their seats, eager to kick some ass. The three of them headed down to The Boss's personal garage, which was an arsenal of 30+ vehicles she had hijacked for keeps and customized to her heart's content. She quickly found her favorite car, they all hopped in, and she drove off to take back what was theirs.

Character Creator (gives a good demo of it):


Now, The Boss was good at many things, but driving and singing were not two of them. Especially both at the same time. Her favorite song, "Take On Me", had come onto the radio, so she couldn't help but sing along as she always did to this song. Horribly off-key, but her followers were afraid to tell her that, so neither one of them said anything. Swaying to the song she soon swerved off to the wrong side of traffic. As they narrowly scrapped through the space between a bus and an 18 wheeler head on while she flipped on the nitrous, one of her terrified ninja thugs lost it and yelled, "I'm ain't never ridin' wit joo again!" Unfazed, she kept singing as if nothing happened.

Character Sing-along of "Take On Me"
(What you hear is the in game character singing over the radio, not the player):


(No matter what voice you pick they will all sing along to "Take on Me" and another individualized song.)

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity for the two poor ninjas, they arrived at the territory that was under fire from the Ronin gang. Luckily there were only 3 rival gang lieutenants she had to take out (sometimes there are up to 8), each surrounded by dozens of lower ranked scum. Once she takes out the 3 key members, the turf would be hers once more. Following her GPS, she located the first 2 at the end of a pier. Plowing through beach chairs and dozens of minor thugs, she headed straight for the lieutenants. She hit them both at a speed that caused death on impact. Their corpses flew a few hundred feet into the ocean in separate directions.

Spinning the car around, she drove towards the 2nd lieutenant she just spotted on the beach nearby. When she got closer she was met with heavy rounds of lead. Her bullet riddled car caught on fire, forcing her to jump out. A twisted car crash, hundreds of stray bullets, the death of 2 ninjas, and a madly swinging metal baseball bat later, all those Ronin standing had fallen with their skulls cracked, and all those already fallen had their brains on the sand. This was the reason why she was feared among rival gang members in battle: She had destroyed her enemies with only her metal bat, while they chipped away cowardly at her massive lifebar with their automatic weapons. She was a Boss, after all.

The Ronin, one of the 3 colorful rival gangs The Saints must face:

(The Ronin's incompetent young leader is voiced by JYB by the way)

Now the only ones left standing was her and the lieutenant. The Boss could have gone after him first, but his cronies destroyed her favorite car, killed her ninjas. He didn't deserve a quick death. Still catching her breath, she put away her bat. He, on the other hand, had ran out of bullets, decided to swiftly unsheathe his samurai sword, and steadily advance towards her, who stood unarmed and motionless. His fearlessness was commendable. His skill with the katana was not. As he came close enough he raised his katana overhead for a downward strike. *THUNK* Before he could complete his archaic attack, The Boss introduced her 6 inch stilettos to his face with a spinning heel kick she had learned from the Sons of Samedi. He crumbled sideways and skid to the ground. Scrambling to his feet quickly, he found himself gripped by the iron hands of the Boss and flung 20 feet away back on the pavement. The Boss strolled over to him, and looked down in deathly silence as he struggled to get up again. Was she going to whip out her pistols, say some Dirty Harry lines to him, and blow his head clean off? No, she had something better. Far less merciful. She pulled out her satchel charges, and planted one on his face. Though dizzy from the throw, he immediately realized his doom and runs away screaming. But it was futile. Once the charge was planted, it was stuck to its victim forever, and The Boss could detonate it anytime she pleased. So she walked the opposite way nary a glance back, and pressd the button. *Click*. A blood-stained explosion lit up the space behind her, erasing man and sand all at once. She savored the moment, smirking evilly as her short purple locks of hair fluttered into her face from the winds of the explosion behind her, her territory safely in her hand once more. As she contemplated whether she should do some Septic Avenger or go car-surfing, a pedestrian passed by her cheerfully and said, "The story of the Saints would make a great anime!" Hearing that, she said to the pedestrian, "I like it! I really do!". Then she threw a satchel charge at him, and blew him up too.

How to use the satchel charges:


- Gangs and Activities/ mini-games are underlined (but just a sample).
- All the spoken quotations are actual lines in the game.
___________________________


Keep in mind the above is a common side-mission, not a story mission. Those, while I won't describe because of spoilers, have a vivid, varied life of their own. With its larger than life characters, bold display of camaraderie, over the top action, and defined story arcs each ending with unique boss-battles, Saints Row 2 would indeed make a great shounen anime. At its center, it remains a house that violence built, but there is so much personality, so many little touches of whimsical detail in between the blood shed, that it often transcend its traditional GTA roots to reach something much more personable. Lovable, even. While I had a crazy, baby faced, purple haired woman with a Latino accent for my main character, you can mold and dress your character anyway you like, male or female. If you've ever wanted to be a supervillain--the power hungry boss of a crime organization--or at least play as one in a game, then this silly gem is for you. Give Saints Row 2 a chance; it might surprise and delight you like it did to me.


My Boss character (sorry shitty off-screen camera... but her hair is really purple in game.):

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March 16, 2011
Ah, beautiful review, you make me go back to the game, although I totally beaten it already. xD Wanted to make a review for this too, but as my English is not even half that good, I must thank you for your work. :D
March 16, 2011
Thanks, glad to see someone else who shares a love for this game. Yea I had finished this game a while ago, but it is all still so fresh in my mind. I think I must have put 150+ hours total into it... XD
 
March 16, 2011
Nice read. How does this game distinguish itself from GTA, speaking in gameplay terms? For example, if I had to describe the difference between GTA and Just Cause 2, I could say "grappling hook, location-based world and a better weapon system".
March 16, 2011
Short answer: The Activities/ Side-missions.

Long answer: Completely manual aiming, easy to use weapon wheel, deeper melee combat that is actually useful, less punishment for your failures (mission checkpoints, longer lifebar, flimsy police, etc.), more rewards for your every action (easy cash, respect system for reckless behavior, tons of unlockable content for beating side/main missions, etc.),  moon-like ragdoll havok physics, emphasis on personalization/customization of *everything* you own, and refreshingly unrealistic gameplay scenarios/ situations in the story with outrageous humor.

In other news, your character is not a clumsy bullet rag but an empowered superhuman hard-ass. Though I'd like to emphasis the biggest difference is in the story, the characters, approach to humor, and situations.

Of course, this is more in comparison to GTA IV; it does share the "wealth of content" aspect with PS2-era GTA games, except the things you can do are weirder.
 
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About the reviewer

Ranked #532
Member Since: Feb 21, 2011
Last Login: Mar 31, 2011 03:38 PM UTC
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