Welcome to Stilwater: land of chaos and desolation.
Years have passed since the main characater of the first Saints Row was leading his gang, now many of them betrayed him, other died, other are in politics.
That’s where the new chapter of the saga begins, inside a surgery room where the main character just had a face surgery (you’ll decide how to transform his face).
The purpose of the whole game is to try to conquer the city back, which is now ruled by new gangs, callink old friends back and enrolling new ones, all of this will just be possible because of your personal style approaching the several situations, your dressing, walking, insulting and killing people style…
A GTA CLONE (?)
This game by THQ tries to be different than the most famous (and most seller) masterpiece GTA IV, developing everything around the fun and the “FREE ROAMING” concept; in fact, if in Rockstar’s game the main plot is the most important thing and all the missions are strictly connected to it, in SAINTS ROW 2 the main purpose is to destroy everything surrounding you.
Still, the compelling missions won’t be missing, so the story can be developed.
The idea of letting the player free to run for the city, even if not original, is well developed: since the beginning, you’ll be able to go around the whole city and many missions will be available without having to make other before in order to unlock them.
The difficulty is not that high and killing your enemies is going to be easy for you “serial killer”, and you’ll have hours of entertainment without thinking too hard.
The main difference between SAINTS ROW and GTA is in the violence and in the more explicit contents of the first one; in fact the game by THQ doesn’t censure bloody scenes and mini sex-games (which won’t be here revealed not to take the surprise off of you).
You’ll give rides to hookers, or turn yourself into a cop in order to make yourself appear on the local tv, or take a truck full of dung, letting some of it around in the city to discredit your enemies.
All of this is developed in an ironical way (and the European version censorship makes this feature bigger) and will give you a total feeling of control, without never forgetting hte main purpose of the game: pure fun.
Another important difference between the two videogames is the 3D character; in fact, if in GTA the control of your character is very limited (and is almost reduced to the clothing change), in SAINTS ROW 2 you can almost make infinite changes, as you can alter: race, hair, clothing, eyes, way to talk, how to get older and so on.
In SAINTS ROW 2, besides the free roaming, the control is just like GTA, moreover in the driving and fighting (by weapons or by your hands).
The AI is at a medium/high level, and you can appreciate the attitude of cops staying steady during a fighting when you go behind another cop or a passing person.
The phisycs is not that good: you’ll se cars flying and crashing as if you’re on the moon.
The online session is very good, with several extra sessions you’ll have sure fun, as you can play with up to 5 other players together.
GRAPHIC and AUDIO ANALYSIS:
The worst sides of the game can be found in the graphic part, as the PC version is not as good as the XBOX360 and PS3 one; the computer conversion is one of the worst made in the last years: the horizon line is quite reduced, building and objects suddenly appear, there’s no antialiasing at all (even with the lowest graphic details), not to talk about the high power you need to play at the minimum (a dual core CPU and a 128MB graphic card) and the adviced components are not even to think of; at the light of my experience with a quadcore with 4 GB of RAM, everything could still be slow during some chasing.
The only good thing is the very good use of the environmental hdris (360° images simulating the sky), making materuals, like metals, very realistic.
The special effects, such as the flooding of water from pipes of pools, are something awful; you can count the number of pixels and polygons composing the water, as bad it is made.
The frame-rate is embarassing, as it goes down in front of some complicated situations (several contemporary accidents or a shooting).
The movements and the characters mocap leave lots to the imagination, and the camera often can’t play the animations.
The audio is made in a quite good way, with the Italian version just subtitled and not dubbed, and with the environment noises often covered up by the radio in your car (several radios, several music genres, but with few worthless tracks, as Misery Business by Paramore).
SAINTS ROW 2 is a good product, but for consolle only, where the graphic can "cover" lots of concept and developing errors, as the PC version amplifies all the flaws in the game, from the graphic to the movements of the charcater, and all of this affects the longevity in the long period.
THQ guys made anything to differentiate their product from the superenemy GTA, but the clone label is now right to this game, bringing nothing new in the genre.
A game to be bought: if only GTA didn’t exist, if only the graphic was worthy, if there only were some innovations, if only the plot was a little more interesting; but "ifs" are not for the best videogames.
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