Now, over two years later, the sequel is ready to be released and this time it's hitting all three platforms. Publishers THQ and developers Volition know how big a game of this type need be - you only need to look at Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto IV for proof. This game though is quite a bit different. It has a lighter tone, with plenty more comedic moments, there seems (From early previews) to be plenty more diversions to keep you amused and seems to have bigger multi-player support - including co-op. Could it be that the years biggest title critically and commercially is going to be outdone by THQ's title? You never know...
Five years have passed since your former Saints crew betrayed you. As you awake from a coma for the first time since that fateful day, you find the Stilwater you once ruled is in disarray. Unfamiliar gangs have laid claim to your territory, rival factions have taken over your rackets, and cash-hungry corporations have laid waste to your once proud 3rd Street home. Abandoned and left scarred with an unrecognizable face, you seek out a plastic surgeon to begin your new life on the streets.
Before you even get into the main game you will need to do some customisation - the first big choice being whether to play as a male or female character! Now that is impressive. Beyond that you can change your appearance including your age and weight, your voice, fighting style and weapon holding, clothing and expressions. You can then change the look of your gang, and the cribs you hang out in. This is certainly an impressive feature of this game - something which few other sandbox titles allow.
As with the original, Saint's Row 2 is third person action adventure game. The world is quite open and it is possible to travel to and from locations, missions, and people whenever you want. When you awaken from your coma you will have to rebuild your respect, and your gang. You will need to earn respect by mugging people, completing tasks and configuring your character to take on rivals. There are so many ways to do this including using any of the numerous weapons such as handguns, mini-guns, katanas, sledge hammers, flame throwers, chainsaws, stun guns, and satchel charges to name a few. It is also possible to use human shields to protect yourself, throw rivals into oncoming traffic and zero-in your nut-shot using Fine Aim controls.
In order to rebuild your empire you have access to all manner of vehicles. These include plenty of cars and motorbikes, but also more exotic rides including monster trucks, Quad bikes, private jets, speedboats, and helicopters or strafe the hood of your rival's monster truck from the comfort of your fighter plane! It is believed that the aircraft will make use of the Sixaxis' tilt sensing.
Stilwater's streets include five main gangs; 3rd St Saints, Ronin (a Japanese gang), Sons of Samedi (from the Caribbean underworld), Brotherhood of Stilwater (outcasts from society) and Ultor Corporation who are a mega-corporation set to clean up he streets of Stilwater. These all play a major role in the game as you try to earn back your respect, and control the rivals. Make no mistake this is an MA15+ game for a reason. There's plenty of swearing, plenty of violence, and plenty of unnecessary harm to others in the game - just the way we like it!
Unfortunately there hasn't been much seen of the multi-player modes to date, but we do know a few bits. One of the most impressive aspects is that the game will allow you to complete the campaign mode in two player co-op. Beyond that the game includes Gangsta Brawl (Deathmatch) and Team Gangsta Brawl (Team Deathmatch) for up to 12-players. Another mode is Strong Arm in which teams compete to earn money. This money is earnt by killing opponents, but more so by completing a variety of tasks.
Graphically this game certainly looks pretty good, and makes use of an all-new engine developed at Volition. While it doesn't have the realism of some titles, it certainly makes up for that with interesting locations, great explosions and effects. Speaking of effects the game will include variable weather which not only looks great, but affects the gameplay too. As previously mentioned the main character is customizable, while the other characters all look and animate brilliantly. Should the developers throw in some entertaining cut-scenes, keep the frame rate steady and minimise glitches (and I'm not saying there are any major indications of these anyway) then this could be one of the best next-gen titles on the PS3 to date.
We also know the key voice cast that you will hear in the game. Daniel Dae Kim (Lost) voices Johnny Gar, Michael Dorn (Star Trek) voices Maero, Jaime Pressly (My Name Is Earl) voices Jessica, Neal Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser, M.D.) plays DJ Veteran Child, Michael Rappaport (Boston Public) reprises his role as Troy, and finally Eliza Dushku (True Lies) voices Shaundi. The entire game will include over 60,000 lines of dialogue which is an impressive amount for any game.
I guess you're all asking. Will this game be as good as Grand Theft Auto IV? That's a damn tough question and we can't give you a full verdict until we review this game of course. At this moment, it actually looks like THQ and Volition have the potential to pull off a miracle. Christmas 2008 could very well be one for Saint's Row 2 to claim the throne. Perhaps.