Saint's Row 2 - Cheat Happens Game Review
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Saint's Row 2
PC Games, XBox 360, Playstation 3

Reviewed on: PC

Developer:
Volition Inc.
Publisher: THQ
Rated: "M" for Mature



CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

   
   
   
Audio/Visual: 6
Gameplay: 5
Lasting Appeal: 5
Overall: 6
   
CHEATfactor: 6
   
     
The Saint’s Row series has always been underappreciated. Though constantly overshadowed by the much larger and much more successful Grand Theft Auto series, Volition’s open-world gangster simulation gave more to the growing genre than most games dubbed “GTA clones.” For instance, the original Saint’s Row was responsible for the now standard GPS feature and even multiplayer online functionality. Now that the newest installments of both series are available, Saint’s Row’s positives and negatives have never been easier to see.

Saint’s Row 2 starts just after the end of the original game in a prison hospital, and you are quickly given the task of breaking out. This mission serves as a tutorial to the game’s basics, but also as a catalyst to the story. You play as the leader of the Third Street Saints gang, and are determined to reunite the gang, after they disassembled following the events of the first game. To its credit, the story is original, as it doesn’t draw its inspiration from movies or TV shows ala the GTA series, but it’s just not that engaging. The characters (including your own) are incredibly one-dimensional and you just plain don’t care what happens to any of them.  Sadly, the same goes for the majority of the story itself, as the missions get incredibly redundant. You’ll drive, shoot, drive and shoot or race…over…and…over…and…over. There are some fun, and more creative missions (like becoming a vengeful landlord to a cardboard town of hobos), but these are few and far between; and if you stick to the main path – you may just miss them.

"Citizens seem like zombies wandering aimlessly around..."

 
   

While the city of Stillwater is impressive, it, and the entire game itself simply cannot compare to the truly massive production values contained in GTA IV. Perhaps we’ve become spoiled, but GTA IV’s Liberty City truly feels like a densely populated city; Stillwater not so much. Sure, there are people roaming the streets and events occurring all around you – they just seem so scripted.  Citizens seem like zombies wandering aimlessly around without a purpose. Furthermore, while Liberty City is clearly based off New York, it’s unclear exactly where Stillwater is. The safe-bet is somewhere on the West Coast, as there are areas similar to San Francisco (a wharf like area) and Los Angeles (LAX).

The true beauty of the Saint’s Row series is its simplistic nature. Let’s be honest, while GTA IV is a technological accomplishment, it lacks the soul of the older games. Think about it. There are no gang affiliations, and it traded in the cartoonish tongue in cheek nature of previous games for a gritty realistic tone. Volition chose to stick to what it knew; only this time go completely over the top. Yes, Saint’s Row 2 is similar to GTA – if it took a bunch of steroids and overdosed on Mountain Dew. You’ll find yourself doing incredibly crazy jumps, ripping phone polls out, and throwing heavy objects across city blocks.  

One of the major complaints of the newest GTA is its realistic, yet unnecessarily complicated control scheme. Cars especially handle rather difficult, and turning can be a nightmare.  With Saint’s Row, the controls are tight and responsive. In cars, one button accelerates, and the other reverses. That’s it. Combat is especially satisfying, and rather intuitive. While you can target specific enemies, you won’t be able to lock on to them – this makes the combat rewarding, especially the massive gun battles fast and aggressive, rather than seeming like you’re just taking on one enemy after another.

"...the sheer amount of options is nothing short of amazing."

 
   

One thing the Saint’s Row series has always done better than the competitors is its deep level of customization. At the game’s start, you develop your character from scratch, and the sheer amount of options is nothing short of amazing. You’ll be modifying everything from hairstyle and eye color to forehead depth and earlobe size. Going even further than its Predecessor does, Saint’s Row 2 gives players the option to customize character’s voices – not digging the inner city thug routine? Give your character that hooligan charm with the English accent.  This combined with a wide variety of taunts, and unlockable attires (you simply haven’t lived until you’ve fired a bazooka down a crowded highway dressed in a hot dog suit) assures that no two games are quite the same.

Though it’s not as flashy or massive as the GTA series, Saint’s Row 2 is fast paced, creative and most importantly fun. Those looking for a deep and engrossing storyline may want to look elsewhere but as a simple sandbox action title, you can’t go wrong spending some time in Stillwater.

 

CHEATfactor

CHEATS USED: Spawn vehicles, Weapons, World/weather effects, Increase health, Car mass

Like the GTA series, Saint’s Row 2 is made better using cheats. Once you enter in a cheat to spawn a vehicle, or a weapon – it feels like the restraints are off. You have an incredible sense of freedom, and are free to do whatever you want with it. What’s more, you have the ability to effect not just the actions of your character, but the world around you. One cheat causes riots between citizens, and another causes freak lightning strikes to hit in random spots. Cheats like more armor and health make campaign, especially the chaotic and aggressive ones just a bit easier.

Sadly, there’s no cheat to unlock all of the customization features for your player. The developers gave players the chance to access any car or gun from the beginning of the game – why not all of the clothes?


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