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Grand Theft Auto raises the bar. Saints Row 2 holds that bar to it's crotch and pretends it's a cock.
In April 2008 the most anticipated game of all time was released in GTAIV. In September a worthy alternative to the more real world crime sim was released in Saints Row 2. The game cuts a lot of the fat from GTA and focuses less on relationship values and more on over the top action, humor and remembering what makes games fun.

It opens with the protagonist last seen being blown up finally waking up in a prison hospital. Even from here we can see the level of detail that went into the game, from numerous references to the first game to allowing multiple voices for your character. The prison escape where you blow up half the city's police force sets the tone for the rest of the game.

The plot revolves around rebuilding the Saints, who you rose to become The Dragon for in the first game. However plot and Character Development are quickly pushed aside for nuts to the wall action, yet still leaves enough space for the odd Player Punch and the like. It clearly takes a different approach to GTAIV, with the story being built around the game rather than the other way around.

Gameplay wise it is very similar to GTA, where you can focus on building your gang and them challenge your rivals, or just forego that and take part in the many side missions or just explore. One aspect of the game lies in building rep to unlock further missions, which you do all the time. Rarely are you railroaded into certain actions to continue the story, and when you are you can drive hookers around, fly helicopters to protect drug dealers, cover the city in human waste, there's all manner of fun things to do.

The developers went out of the way to make this a fan pleasing big budget game. For voice actors we get Faith, Worf, Barney Stinson, Garrus Vakarian and many many more. And the soundtrack kicks the Russian from GTAIV in the nuts. Outside of maybe Rock Band one of the best list of tracks in a game.

The game mechanics are tweaked from the first game and Saints Row 2 is all the better for it. The controls have improved, the guns sound and act better, you can zoom in and take human shields, and you can replay missions. This was one of the biggest complaints about GTA, bringing down an otherwise superb title. Throw in massive amounts of customization and you have a sandbox full to the brim with fun toys. Not as well developed maybe as GTAIV but certainly as much fun.
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