Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Games You Should Own: Saints Row 2

I'm not as big a gamer as I used to be. I used to buy just about every big name game that came out and play them pretty much non-stop until I had them beat. Now I usually buy only a few games a year and they last me months, so there are plenty of games that just fall through the cracks that I completely miss. Every once in a while, I go back and buy one of those games if I hear enough good things about them. About a week and a half back, I bought Saints Row 2. It might be the best $20 I've ever spent on a video game.

I never played the first Saints Row since I didn't have an Xbox 360 when it first came out and all I ever heard about it was that it was a Grand Theft Auto ripoff. And I didn't have any interest in the sequel since GTA 4 had come out by then and why buy a ripoff of a game you already own. Except Grand Theft Auto 4 got really boring, really quickly. GTA is always at it's best when it wasn't taking itself too seriously, which is all that GTA 4 did. I'm all for trying to tell a mature story about a former killer looking for redemption but it rings a little hollow when your character spends five minutes complaining about leaving that life behind and then goes out and kills 50 people for 5 grand because somebody asked him to. They changed the physics engine and made it more realistic, which made driving around town a lot less fun. There was also nothing really to do when you weren't doing a mission. I got about halfway through the game and just stopped because it just wasn't fun to me. Not to mention I wanted to shoot Roman in his stupid face.

That has not been the case with Saints Row 2. It feels more like a continuation of the old GTA games that I loved. After a short intro where you break out of prison (not spend 20 minutes driving your annoying cousin around) it drops you into the city and lets you loose. There are missions to do, but if you decide that you'd rather run around doing all the minigames and causing mayhem, you can do that. The only limit is that you have to do some of the minigames to build up respect so you can do the missions. But you also get respect for doing stuff that you'd probably be doing anyway, like driving on the wrong side of the street or shooting rival gang members. Once you have enough respect, you can take on the three rival gangs in any order you want. The missions themselves are usually pretty fun and action packed. There aren't many escort type missions where you have to keep everyone alive, if one of the people you're with walks into a hail of gunfire because they're dumb, you can go revive them within a time limit. The driving parts are good too. There are a ton of cars that all generally handle differently and if you find a car that you really like, you can just go drop it off in your garage and it will always be there whenever you want it (which might be the best idea for a game like this ever, I always hated being stuck with a crappy car because I couldn't find one I liked in GTA). There's no auto-lock for the combat but it's never really a problem and there are plenty of different weapons to keep the combat fresh.

This will happen. Probably a lot.

One of my favorite things, though, is all the customization options. You get to create your character at the beginning. Don't like the character you created? Go to the plastic surgeon and completely recreate them. Just stole a car you like except it's puke green and has a huge spoiler? Take it to the mechanic and get it painted whatever color you want, change the mirrors, the headlights, the rims, the tread on the tires, the tint on the windows , pretty much anything you want. You can pimp out all of your hideouts and have your gang dress in completely different ways (mine are dressed like ninjas). Change the colors and patterns on every piece of clothing you buy. You can even create your own radio station to listen to in the car using any song from the game. It's ridiculous and incredibly fun.
I might just be dressed as a hot dog. A badass hotdog.

I was reading an interview with some of the developers and they said their design philosophy was basically "F**k it, why not? If it's fun, it's in." And with so many games these days trying so hard to be realistic and adult, it's nice to somebody realizing that, sometimes, the point of a game is to have fun.

1 comment:

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