These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Shogo Akuji - an idiot psychopath gang leader whose father has to come in and clean up his mess, or "Well Done, Son!" Guy who wants his father's respect in his own way? Even his attack on Gat and the Boss at Aisha's funeral was only after he crossed an apparent Despair Event Horizon when his father not only mourned the death of the man who basically replaced Shogo as a son to him, but mourned because it left him with no one but Shogo to call family.
The Boss - An incredibly BadassSociopathic Hero who truly cares about his/her friends and would risk his/her life for them, or a cruel, just plain sociopath? Fan reactions are varied.
The Saints - The Saints as a gang were started to protect Saints Row from the waging gang war. Many debate whether they are still true to such ideals however.
By the second game, they've more or less crossed the Moral Event Horizon and became just as bad (if not worse) than the gangs they war against - pushing drugs, killing cops, pimping hos and taking over neighborhoods. To put it in the Boss' words: "This is our city; We can do whatever the fuck we want."
Anticlimax Boss: Honestly, all of them. In any given mission with a Boss Fight, the hardest part is going to be actually getting to the boss, past his waves of Mooks (and, in several levels, attack choppers with missiles and depth charges or more mooks filing in at random intervals during the fight). The lone exception is Veteran Child, and then only because he has a Human Shield and you fail the mission automatically if she dies.
Crosses the Line Twice: Yes, some of Boss's actions in the sequel are pretty bad, but like the rest of the game, they're so over the top you can't help but laugh and/or cheer.
Demonic Spiders: Tornado attack helicopters. They have homing missiles that will destroy most vehicles in one hit and anything less formidable than a Bear APC in two, they are perfectly capable of firing said missiles at the Boss even when he/she isn't in a vehicle (such hits are universally fatal), and (even assuming you have a weapon capable of taking one down) you usually won't even be able to see the damn thing until it's already fired off at least one of them at you. As of this writing, there are five missions listed under That One Level on this page, and three of them are so designated because they involve being attacked by Tornadoes.
Dude, Not Funny!: A number of fans were not amused by the Boss's increased sociopathy.
Even Better Sequel: The series pretty much just went from Grand Theft Auto clone to rollercoaster ride of gangbanging fun with an improved story, more to do and MANY more customisation options.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: When Jessica calls a radio show with a request for her and Maero's anniversary the host says how they're gonna make it. Ay yup.
Game Breaker: It's very easy to get a Bear, an armored vehicle with mounted minigun, early in the game, and mod it for extra durability and speed. This becomes an infinity+ 1 ride for the many situations it's available in.
Good Bad Bugs: Sometimes, in the final mission, "...And a Better Life," if you don't lift off in the helicopter and instead run around resolutely refusing to engage with the attack chopper that comes for you, said chopper will eventually just fly away and not be replaced with subsequent versions when you get back into your helicopter and attack the Phillips Building. Again, the effectiveness of this is hit-or-miss: sometimes, the choppers go away for the rest of the mission, sometimes only for a couple of minutes. Either way, a teeth-grindingly difficult level may be somewhat eased.
There's another bug where said helicopters may just blow themselves up in some manner.
Growing the Beard: The first game was an ultra-narmy ripoff of GTA San Andreas. The second game, while it still bites close to Rockstar's work, has much better gameplay (think San Andreas 2.0, compared to GTAIV's realism) and a very creative flow to its side missions, and watching your player character change from a generic avatar to an over-the-top Sociopathic Hero is very engaging.
Harsher in Hindsight: Julius' statement at the end of his Reason You Suck Speech becomes more and more poignant as the series has worn on. All the power, fame and glory that the Boss enjoys (up to being elected President in IV) really is thanks to the fact that Julius saved their life on that street corner that night. Without him, they'd just have been another corpse in the endless gang wars of Stilwater.
He's Just Hiding: Some fans needed a lot of convincing that Aisha really did get decapitated. Despite the fact that they even left in a brief view of her headless body. This seems to be a theme among some fans given the same can be said for Julius, Lin and even Shogo and his father. The latter vows revenge despite being impaled on a boat moments before it explodes and the former is buried alive.
Shogo Akuji to some fans. Same can be said for Maero throughout the Brotherhood storyline.
Moral Event Horizon: For the player character after the bonus mission. Before that point, you can easily convince yourself that you're doing it to stop the violence, return order to the streets, and potentially slow down or stop the drug trade. After the player murders Julius, though, it really sets in that your character does not care about any of this - the city is his/her's, and he'she's going to keep it no matter what. And to top it all off, before you kill him, Julius basically tells you that you've become just as bad as the gangs you fought in the previous game, which is why he left the gang in the first place. Oh, and if you didn't do that, you throw a random bartender into gunfire and blow her corpse up to escape a SWAT team.
Julius arguably crossed the Moral Event Horizon as well when he blew up the boat that Boss was on, putting him/her in a coma for five years, after all that he/she did to save him. Troy asked for Julius to dismantle the Saints peacefully, but Julius took the violent way out without even a second thought.
It was the only way, so he argues. Considering the actions Boss gets up to in the sequel, not to mention the fact that they were a vigilante gang of sorts originally, he was dead on the money.
Considering how the Boss is characterized in 2, Julius was entirely justified in his actions. He was terrified that he/she (the Boss) was becoming a monster, and worse, a monster who (running parallel with the origin of the Vice Kings) would probably take control of the Saints from Julius, and thus have the entire city.
Ironically, Julius seems to have CAUSED the Boss' increased sociopathy. Being in a coma for years at the hands of your beloved mentor can do that. The Boss might have been turning into a monster, but by attempting to kill him, Julius assured that he would be a monster who stood against everything he fought for. And, as pointed out somewhere, there's the fact that he didn't seem to feel that way until after he got arrested...
Dex also counts, as he decides to try and do both of them in.
Shogo Akuji crosses the Moral Event Horizon. Initially presented as a spoiled brat, Shogo wants to show his father that he can handle Boss after the Saints robbed his casino. He first orders Jyunichi to kidnap Aisha - who winds up killing her when she tries to warn Johnny and Boss. To make things worse, just to save face, he betrays Jyunichi in a fit of pique and tries to personally kill Boss and Gat at Aisha's funeral. He fails, and winds up being buried alive by Johnny and the Boss.
Likewise. Everything after "Deal with the Saints" was left up to Jyunichi, and Shogo only beytayed him to the Saints after his father all but removed Shogo from power and placed himself at the head of the Ronin with Jyunichi as his right hand.
The Brotherhood's crossing of the horizon is an interesting case. They kidnap Carlos, and chain him to the back of one of their trucks and drag him across town, face-first, which definitely gives you motivation to wipe them out. However, it's the main character who drew first blood by putting radioactive waste in Maero's tattoo and making him Two-Faced. Had he not pulled that little stunt, this could have never happened. Granted, Maero's offer was a terrible, terrible deal for the Saints, but still... Oh, and you avenge Carlos by kidnapping Jessica and locking her in the trunk of her car, driving the car to a monster truck rally that Maero is participating in, and park the car so that he unknowingly crushes his beloved girlfriend by landing on the trunk after a jump. And if that wasn't enough, the Boss shows up as soon as Maero gets out and tosses him Jessica's keys so that he can open the trunk and see her mangled corpse for himself, all while sneering "When you look in the trunk, just remember that you should have offered me more than 20 percent."
Of course, that bit with Jessica may possibly be excused on the ground of it being fucking awesome revenge. Not to mention that Jessica is just as much of a psychotic bitch as the Boss is, considering how smug and cheery she is about Carlos being dragged around on the end of a chain by a speeding truck with his face to the pavement.
Boss cripples a tattoo artist's hand with fireworks, ruining his livelihood as a scrimshaw and a musician, even though he isn't involved with the Brotherhood in any way save being a scrimshaw. He even explicitly says that Maero doesn't tell him anything because he doesn't want his best friend to get mixed up in gang violence.
And so we have one from each gang there's DJ Veteran Child from the Sons of Samedi. He was already a talented, award-winning DJ, but because he he wanted some good weed, he became one of the top members of the gang. He didn't seem all that violent initially (even confused), but was more than willing to remorselessly abuse and kill his ex-girlfriend, Shaundi as well as the Boss so he can save his own neck, or as Shaundi so succinctly puts it after Boss kills him.
Shaundi My Ex-Boyfriend's a dick.
When you go and rescue Shaundi the various sons will scream to kill the girl, further enforcing that of all the gangs they are the worst, and Shaundi's fears of them are very valid.
Most Annoying Sound: The sassy comments your "homies" make about your driving can get pretty damn irritating after a while, especially when they start bitching about how fast you're going while being chased all over Stilwater by gangsters, the FBI, and/or attack helicopters.
Nightmare Fuel: One of the villains is killed via Texas Funeral, AKA being buried alive. No matter what this villain did (more specifically, what he ordered be done), it's still unsettling.
Especially when Johnny later remarks with something along the lines of "You think he's still screaming?" I love Johnny, I do, but... * shudder*
The Zombie Uprising minigame the Boss can play at cribs is this easily. Unlike the Zombie Apocalypse mission in the third game which was a somewhat humorous parody this game takes itself much more seriously. While in the third game the mission isn't too difficult due to the player likely being a walking tank by the time it comes up Zombie Uprising is a completely straight Survival Horror with extremely limited supplies (a handful of melee weapons and some guns, with the more powerful ones hidden in the enviroment), ammo, health (it doesn't regenerate and the player has only a few food items), and really disturbing zombies. In addition to normal shambling zombies are giant corpses with their heads ripped off and hanging by a thread behind their neck, flaming zombies that can easily corner the player and burn them to death, and small childlikeexploding zombiesthat can be hard to spot in crowds. All of this, plus an extremely creepy music soundtrack and even a bit of Fridge Horror if the player pays attention to their surroundings. The location all of this takes place in can actually be found in Stilwater... right outside the Saints main HQ! So yeah, the only plus is that, unlike the third game, this side mission is completely optional and only rewards the player with a latex zombie mask. Still, if you want 100% completion you'll have to do this sooner or later...
The scene where the Boss mangles Matt's hand with fireworks even though he's relatively innocent is all-around disturbing, but one moment is particularly chilling: A POV shot of the Boss saying "Enjoy your retirement, Matt...", complete with Slasher Smile.
Player Punch: Aisha's murder during the Ronin arc, especially if you played the first one. The little... game... the Brotherhood plays with Carlos during their arc. Veteran Child taking Shaundi hostage during the Samedi arc. This game loves cleaning the player's clock.
Killing Julius in the hidden mission. Granted The Boss had good reason but so did Julius for doing what he did. It's not like he was trying to kill the boss after he woke back up either. The whole dialogue that transpires before you put a bullet in his head will probably make a lot of players feel a bit of Heel Realization.
Porting Disaster: The game was ported onto the PC by a third-party company, who didn't exactly do a great job of it. The game suffered from enormous draw distance issues unless one's specs were far above the listed recommended specs - try driving a regular car at top speed and one would almost immediately get stuck in an area that hasn't loaded yet. None of the DLCs made it to the PC, either.
And The Boss sometimes makes comments implying they ship Pierce and Shaundi.
I wish Pierce would stop bitchin' about Shaundi and just fuck her already!
Stop Helping Me!: For the most part, your recruitable AI buddies do a decent job at fighting alongside you... until they pick up an RPG. Then it's just a matter of time before they kill themselves (or you) with a rocket fired at somebody from point-blank range.
They also automatically try to shoot through Human Shields, which properly screws you in the fight with Veteran Child.
Strawman Has a Point: Julius. It's a wonder Boss didn't overload the power plant and nuke Stilwater for the lulz, did Troy really expect him not to be killed if he tried to convince his protege to stop? Though given the Boss just shrugged and let Troy off for being The Mole, it seems it was the fact that Julius personally betrayed him that offends the Boss. Troy also made up for this to an extent by keeping Boss on life support for 5 years and stopping the prison guards from regularly beating up Johnny.
Surprisingly Improved Sequel: Although SR1 got mostly decent reviews, it was generally regarded as "just another GTA clone", with an overall reception split between "This is a cheap GTA ripoff" and "This is a cheap GTA ripoff... but they made some improvements and it's actually not that bad." In contrast, the sequel has gained almost universal critical acclaim (Yahtzee ADORES AND LOVES it) and been regarded as not only far better than the original, but also a worthy rival to the GTA series by many. This was no doubt helped by the SR2 happening to take the batshit insane route at the same time GTA IV started to divide critics for taking a more restrainedapproach to the Wide Open Sandbox "crim sim".
That One Level: Many of which involve either being forced to fly a helicopter or being attacked by helicopters (or both).
"Assault on Precint 31". Between the ridiculously uncooperative helicopter controls and the police copters spamming homing rockets, have fun.
This level has since been patched so you don't have to take the chopper and can leave via the front door. From there, you can steal an FBI van (or, better yet, a Bear) from the first wave of cops that come after you and drive (very, very quickly, if you couldn't get a Bear) to the nearest Forgive and Forget. If you can make it there without being blown up, you could walk the rest of the way to the mission marker and not have to worry.
"Bank Error In Your Favor". Is not the hardest mission there is, it's just that there are so many ways to botch it is not even funny. You have to drive to a bank, take your target hostage, drag her slooooooooowly to the top floor to have her deactivate the bank alarm, drag her slooooooooowly to the street (all the while shooting security guards and SWAT strike teams and making sure they don't get on your back), tuck her inside her car, then drive the car to the stadium about 15 blocks away. Now, did she get killed accidentally by the cops or your gang members in the crossfire? Restart at the bank door. Did you accidentally threw her or executed her because you pressed the wrong button? Restart at the bank door. Did the car get totalled during the chase? Restart at the bank door. That's right, the one mission that absolutely needs a checkpoint in a game otherwise filled with them doesn't have any. Oh, there's also a rare and juicy assassination target that has an habit of showing up during the chase, and stopping the car to take him down will get it totalled.
It appears like some patch made that mission a lot easier. Getting to the bank is a joke; there's no time limit, no notoriety, no cops. You could walk there if you wanted to. Once inside the bank and holding your target hostage, security guards, cops, and even SWAT won't fire at you even if you open fire. Killing the guards/cops inside the bank makes sure you won't have to worry about them when you're on the parking lot. And driving away from the bank to your destination isn't that hard, either. You're given a reasonably fast car, there are only a handful of SWAT blockades along the way, and except for the first quarter or so of the journey, you're driving on a practically straight four-lane road where it's easy to bypass said blockades and having enough room to not worry about the traffic. And the whole mission, including the two cutscenes at the start and end, including getting to the bank (assuming you're driving there and not walking) takes just a little over five minutes (played on normal difficulty).
"Salting the Earth...Again" from the Ultor side. You have to drive a car to a dock to pick up a boat to drive it to a yacht. Not too difficult? Once you get in the boat (which is a little speedboat), Ultor sends an attack helicopter with homing missiles after you. There's no way to make it through there and you just have to get lucky and hope his missiles miss, which is very unlikely. Sometimes, the copter will send the missiles early to taunt you. Worse when you die anywhere in the mission, it sends you back to the Saints Hideout, meaning you have to start EVERYTHING again.
Though it get's easier if you go on land again after manning the boat and shoot down the helicopter, before racing to the yacht. You'll still need some good steering and luck if another helicopter arrives on the seen.
From the Corporate Warfare DLC, there's "Corporate Meltdown," specifically the second half. You need to protect 3 trucks in a row by using an attack chopper. It is basically the same as Heli Assault (see below), but Heli Assault at least has the benefit of being optional. The helicopter has horrible controls, and can easily get stuck on the environment. While it looks like the trucks have a large health bar, all the enemies use rockets that eat through the trucks like starved lions. The enemy vans won't spawn until the truck gets close enough, and you can't stray too far away from the trucks either, so don't think you can take out the threats before the trucks are vulnerable. Sometimes the trucks will suddenly take huge chunks of damage, often enough to destroy them, even if there are no more enemies. Lastly, while there is a checkpoint after the first truck reaches its destination, failing to protect the third truck will send you back to the second.
The final mission, "...And a Better Life." Specifically, the part where you have to get in an attack helicopter and blast four targets you can barely see on the side of a building while avoiding getting blown out a sky by the other attack helicopters, which have guided missiles that can take out your helicopter in two hits (and which you also can't see). And naturally, as a nice kick in the gut, dying at any point during this segment of the mission will send your right back to the beginning of said segment.
That One Sidequest: Three words: Blue Collar Achievement. For example, three more words: Tow Truck Diversion. Between the clunky, all-over-the-place steering, the time limit, the inability to fix your truck (the message "You can't visit here right now" when you try to go to Rim Jobs might as well be an image of a middle finger), and the fact that it doesn't save your progress (you blew up at Level 9? Tough shit! Back to start!) it's easily the most hated part of Saints 2, hell, maybe even the whole series. Though it is doable, just time consuming and very tedious.
Heli Assault Level 6 has you flying a helicopter to defend a van through tightly packed skyscrapers and mazes of highways. The most annoying part is that bumping into something usually sends your helicopter bouncing off in the opposite direction at top speed, which usually means you're going to hit something else. Also, your rocket launchers can get knocked off, and the machine gun is nowhere near as effective. Last but not least, somehow, the rival gangs you are up against also has attack choppers, and you have no idea where they will come from until a missile just struck your tail. What's worse, you can only survive three hits max. There's at least three of them in level 6 (though granted, one of them concentrates only on the car).
More annoyingly, while your chopper can technically survive three missiles hits, more often than not one missile can send your chopper flipping (especially if you tried to dodge one by flying sideways). If your chopper is flipped upside down, it's over. There is no way to recover from that position but to see yourself crash and burn.
And as a staple of your client always being an ungrateful moron, Pierce and Shaundi will always whine about you not protecting them, what are you doing in your chopper etc. as soon as they get the slightest amount of damage, even if they took the damage by hitting the wall themselves. They never acknowledge the fact that you just sent an enemy helicopter and two rival gang cars flying in smoldering wreck right in front of them.
Trail Blazing Levels 5 onward. Heli Assault may be annoying, but it is something that can be mastered by getting used to the chopper control and memorizing enemy Tornados spawning locations. Train Blazing, on the other hand, puts you at the complete mercy at the game's random number generator. You may train yourself to turn smoothly at every corner, memorizing every obstacle and rocket/barrel locations, but you will not win until the game decides to give you enough pedestrian and cars to hit along the way. Downtown level 5 and 6 in particular features long stretches of tunnel/parking lot/shopping mall where there is often literally nothing to hit.
Nuclear Plant Mayhem levels 4-6. Those are sidequests you'd seriously want to tear your hair off, specially if playing under 'Hardcore' difficulty.
The Drug Dealing levels from 5 onwards are practically luck based.
Escort, in which you drive two people (who are having sex in the back seat) around the city while avoiding newsvans, their significant others, and private investigators, is one of the most loathed activities in the series. 1: The damned newsvans are inexplicably fast, come at you in numbers, and just torment you to no end. 2: Your clients will give you requests that range from killing targets, causing damage to other cars with your vehicle, and even driving halfway across the city to... the XXX theater, or some goddamned thing. All while you're trying to avoid those fucking news vans. 3: When they're not making sex noises, your clients won't stop whining at you. 4: It doesn't even make sense. If they're so damned worried about ending up on the news, why the fuck are they screwing in the backseat of a car that they're making drive all around the damn city?! If it sounds extremely frustrating and stupid, that's because it is.
Crowd Control from Level 4 and onward can be pretty frustrating too. Let's count the ways...
1) For starters, you've got more aggressive fans that are armed with weapons, most of them wielding baseball bats, and since they errantly swing at the celebrity you're defending (which is who your are most likely going to be close to trying to defend), more likely than not you will take a hit and be sent to the ground and have to helplessly watch as the annoyance meter starts shooting up while your character has to take the time to get back to his feet, and by then, the meter will already be almost a third, if not halfway full the more fans that pile on. It gets worse when the fans start toting projectile weapons, and even worse when literally everyone not close to the celebrity is whipping out a gun and cutting your hard-earned victory unceremoniously short.
2) You have literally nothing but your bare fists to defend the celeb you're assigned to. At least, that's what the game makes you think at first. You'll be desperately trying to swing your fists fan-ward and not realize that you may have picked up a baseball bat one of the patrons had dropped and not have even noticed. Once you whip out the bat, it's easier, sure, but you'll still be hard pressed to keep the celeb's tolerance down when the fans keep on coming in full force. And if you pick up a gun from a fan, don't use it at all. Period. You'll actually find it more difficult to keep fans at bay with just a pistol, and considering that the fans don't start dropping assault rifles and its ammo until very late into the activity, all you'll do is hurt your already fairly slim chances of winning.
3) The celeb him/herself. Very much like the Escort example above, the celeb is most certainly not quiet and will bitch, moan and raise hell the moment all of the loony fans begin to converge and attack. This can get especially bad with the Hotel and Marina District's Level 5 celeb, since all she seems to do when the fans get close is scream to high heaven. It will want to make you plunge your fist into your TV screen. Either that or just shut the volume off.
4) Finally, remember that you have to gain enough cash before time runs out. All of the big money makers require you to toss the fans into them, and for the first three levels it was manageable and you could easily make the required amount of cash on almost solely the throw points. By this point in the activity, fans will be coming in groups of three or four, and when you grab the last fan to toss him or her into the point you wanna hit, about four more replace the fallen ones and you gotta quickly toss your victim away before going back to deal with the aggravating fans. You'll eventually run out of time purely because you've had to beat in more heads with a baseball bat as opposed to mulching them in a jet engine or tossing them onto tracks. It may get to the point that you're gonna wanna grow your own annoyance meter and start going ballistic on everyone in-game.
Later levels of Snatch, especially the Downtown instance. Imagine, for a moment, that you're required to drive around one of the most crowded areas of the city while weaving in and out of rush hour traffic to pick up prostitutes from violent gangsters who will open fire the moment you try and take one of the girls. Said gangsters tend to have a habit of rushing your car as you wait for the prostitues to get in and yanking you out onto the street where their multiple companions open fire on you as you lie, helpless, on the ground. Then, assuming you actually manage to get all the prostitues in the car and manage to get driving, you have all of these fantastic things to deal with.
What an Idiot: All Maero had to do was be a little more polite and argue his case a little better, and an entire third of the game could have been avoided, including some truly ugly deaths. And, the funny thing is, if you play the other two gang stories first, you're actually larger than his gang. Its like a lizard making a deal with a crocodile to catch a chicken, and offering a wing in return.
It gets better. You'd think Maero would start taking the Saints a little more seriously after they blow up some of the Brotherhood's trucks, right? No, he gets mad at Donnie for doing it at all, which Matt points out is bullshit. The next time we see him, he's busy getting himself tattooed. When Jessica reminds him about the Saints, he gets pissed off. Then of course, after getting scarred, the one person Maero goes after is the one that hardly did anything threatening (rather than, y'know, the leader and mastermind of the operation) and who he has to know is close enough to the boss so that his torture and death will really piss him off. So what does Maero do to protect his best friend and girlfriend from retaliation? Absolutely nothing. Three guesses as to how it all turns out.
Speaking of deals, there is Shogo's giving Jyunichi's position away to the Saints, arguably his gang's most capable man. I get it, he wanted to prove he could lead the gang/show his father he was a man. He attempts to pull a Uriah Gambit that ends up failing spectacularly and cripples The Ronin past the point of no return, or at least gives them a big push in that direction. Way to go, Shogo you idiot.