Have You Played… Saints Row 2?

Have You Played...? is basically an excuse for me to show off my cool characters in games.

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I think it’s my favourite Saints Row game. It doesn’t have neon megaskyscrapers, superpowers, or laser guns, but the down-to-earth ultraviolence of Saints Row 2 appeals to me. The 3rd Street Saints were my gang, not my fanclub gushing over how great I am. Attaining super murderpowers took time and effort. And it had the best clothing and customisation of the series, which is obvs totes imports.

Saints Row 2, if you missed it in 2009, is like a more self-aware and silly Grand Theft Auto. As the leader of a faded gang, we’re back to murder our way to the top across missions, driving and shooting and all that. It strikes a good tone, aware of how absurd the idea of open-world murder simulators are but not pushing that too far (though does get curiously brutal for a few moments). While Saints Row: The Third and IV went super-zany and robbed spectacle of its power, 2 felt more grounded, making special moments actually special.

We start in a hole of a hideout, underpowered, with crummy guns and no money. Murdering our way to our first suped-up car, fancy gun, helicopter, or nice outfit feels like an accomplishment, and the generic gang members we recruit add much-needed firepower. And we have more ways to customise our gang. And more clothes to customise ourselves. And there are more and more-fun side-missions. A more interesting city. Yeah, I think it’s my favourite (though I do adore IV’s super-jump).

The PC port was a mess, mind. Any modern PC is fast enough to forget its performance problems, but the menus are still awful.


  1. Jokerme says:

    Pro tip: Don’t play SR2 on PC.

    • Great Cthulhu says:

      Or at least use a controller. The game is positively painful without one.

      • TomxJ says:

        … and get the Gentlemen of the Row mod.

        I completely bounced off Saints Row 2 to be honest. Saints Row the third on the other hand I have just completed and its one of my most enjoyable gaming experiences yet. Embrace the Zany, and if in doubt play dress-up!

      • LionsPhil says:

        Of the sins of the port, I found mouse and keyboard support was mostly OK. For example, it does show the right on-screen prompts for keyboard.

        The tag-spraying doesn’t really seem to work right on mouse, though.

      • SalaciousJames says:

        I actually thought some gameplay, such as helicopter combat, was actually *easier* with the K+M. But yeah, I totally picked up my gamepad whenever I got behind the wheel.

    • slerbal says:

      Strange, I hear that a lot but I had no issues with it on PC at all – it worked pretty flawlessly for me.

      • Premium User Badge

        Qazinsky says:

        It ran pretty good for me too on at least two completely different PCs except for when travelling at high speeds with cars, then it started to get a bit choppy but it was still possible to weave through traffic without touching anything if you had the reflexes.

      • Mezzo says:

        Considering the game won’t even run at all on my PC, the only way the port could be worse is if the game actively melted my harddrive.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      Steam says I’ve racked up – lawks! – 67 hours and it’s perfectly playable on my 4-year-old PC. My previous PC hated it, with horrible hanging if I was zooming around the city too fast, but the wonkiness of the port isn’t that off-putting to me.

    • Assaf says:

      I played it on PC and nothing bothered me. It was great. I actually liked the car controls btw.

    • Crafter says:

      The keyboard + mouse controls are a mess.
      There are a couple of mods that help a little bit. I remember having to fine tune them in order to finally have a playable game (not pleasant to control, just playable).
      If you thought that SR 3 and 4 pushed the silliness too far (I am not judging, it takes all kinds), this might be your favorite Saints Row.

    • Barberetti says:

      A friend and I played SR2 co-op over the space of a couple of days a few years back. Both using mouse & keyboard with no problems. The only annoyance was navigating the menus, but seeing as though it was new years eve and we were absolutely hammered, even that didn’t bother us too much. We had an absolute blast!

    • Donners says:

      I played it on PC using KB and mouse and had no problems whatsoever.

      There are far worse ports out there. Bully comes to mind.

    • Jokerme says:

      It might work without problems if you mess with it long enough, or you might just get lucky, but to me it doesn’t worth the effort. SR3 and SR4 did everything better anyway and its story is nothing to write home about. I tried to play it three or four times. In all of them (on different PCs) frame rate was atrocious and controls were unacceptable. It’ll always sit on my Steam list as a bad reminder.

      • malkav11 says:

        SR3 and SR4 combined have around as much game as SR2, perhaps a bit less, and continue to omit some of the best side activities in 2. Steelport is also far less characterful than Stilwater. And 3 in particular has nothing like the narrative coherence. Don’t get me wrong, all three subsequent Saints Row games make some good tweaks to the formula, they’re all better ported by far, and I do enjoy how mad the story missions get in later games. Plus, y’know, superpowers in IV and Gat out of Hell. But as a single holistic package? 2 is still by far the best of the bunch.

  2. Vesuvius says:

    Driving in SR2 on PC is a nightmare still.

  3. gbrading says:

    SR2 is utterly broken on PC. If I recall the tutorial is still broken. Even with an excellent modern PC, the framerate still chugs ridiculously slowly outside. Probably best to play the console version honestly, or just play SR3, because it’s an all-round better game.

    • Anguy says:

      I’m actually trying to play it right now and the framerate jumps somewhere between 20 and 50 fps all the time. Doesn’t feel all that great to be honest and I’m playing this on a GTX 970! (Albeit I’m still rocking an i5 2400 so maybe that’s the cause of the problem here).

      Probably the most horribly optimised game I played in years, can’t really remember a worse example.

      One thing that’s also bumming me out is that there’s a different, far less brilliant voice actor for the british male voice.

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    Qazinsky says:

    Easily my favorite Saints row. The right amount of silliness in an otherwise serious city and not as extremely easy as they became after it with superpowered weapons and vehicles straight out of the gate. I am all for you being able to just beeline to the nearest military base and steal a tank if you can pull that off in a sandbox game, but SR3 just hands you that stuff (tactical strike in like the third mission for example).

    That being said, I do think SR3 and onwards had better controls and I am also a sucker for perks and stuff, so that was an improvement too.

    To sum it up, Alice just nailed my feelings of SR2 perfectly up there^.

  5. Eight Rooks says:

    I have. I decided I should play it because so many people raved about it, and I wanted to see if they were right. I finished it and decided no, they weren’t. It was rubbish. Aggressively mediocre at best, reprehensible at worst. Pretty much disagree with every single thing you’ve said here, Alice. Sorry. :(

    • corrosivefrost says:

      I agree with you 100%.

      The worst thing about the first two SR games is the respect system. I absolutely hate being forced to play broken/annoying mini-games that I do not find fun, particularly on higher difficulties, so that I can play the next story mission.

      SR3 got it right with using it to unlock better weapons and modifications and such. It works much better that way.

      • malkav11 says:

        It takes much less effort and doing way less in the way of side activities to accumulate enough respect to play the entire run of story missions in SR2 than it does to unlock all the stuff SR3 puts behind those walls. Finishing (i.e. all levels of) one instance of one side activity in SR2 is enough to do about 8-10 missions. There’s at least three instances of each, and probably 10-20 different side activities in total, so there’s no reason you’d ever need to do activities you hated to do story content unless you just plain hated all of them. And if that’s the case, I can’t imagine you’d get on very well with the game period.

        (Mind you, SR2 locked off weapons and bonuses and such behind the activities too. I was not super thrilled about that in either game.)

      • superstepa says:

        I see where you are coming from but complaining about having to play minigames in SR2 and saying that SR3, a game where literally half of all the story missions are side activities disguised as story missions , handled it better is a bit weird to say the least.

        At least in SR2 you have a choice of what side missions to play

        • malkav11 says:

          That too.

        • LionsPhil says:

          4 was even worse for that.

          Particularly in that if you’d done the side missions when you stumbled across them in the world, the missions that bundled them up would skip right over the dialogue for them, so you’d miss stuff. It actively trained you to avoid fun diversions until it was time to be lead to them by a voice in your ear.

      • ChromeBallz says:

        SR2 did unlock better stuff through those sidemissions…. I always went for the no falling damage perk and infinite SMG ammo. Honestly, the minigames were pretty fun for the most part so i didn’t mind doing them.

        SR3 and 4 lost something when compared to SR2 imho. The latter still feels like the more complete game and experience, while the former seem to just squander a lot of wasted potential (especially SR3, which is hugely inconsistent).

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    basilisk says:

    For me, it’s the other way around. SR3 got the balance just right; SR2 doesn’t know where it belongs. There’s already the Insurance Fraud activity, which is a pure cartoon, and the famous feces-spraying missions, and fun of all sorts to be had, but alongside that are the story missions which are dead serious and quite awful. I still remember one mission chain in particular that still makes me feel extremely uneasy because of how frightfully ugly it is, portraying the Boss as a complete sociopath with no redeeming features whatsoever and spoiling my enjoyment a great deal.

    But yes, it’s a great game, and arguably the best one in the series in terms of gameplay. I find the sequel much more fun, though, because it’s the (only) one that actually understands itself.

    • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

      “I still remember one mission chain in particular that still makes me feel extremely uneasy because of how frightfully ugly it is, portraying the Boss as a complete sociopath with no redeeming features whatsoever”

      I know exactly what you are referring to, and it’s probably my favourite mission chain in the game. It’s so rare in videogames to be allowed to aggressively and intentionally play the villain. Not a KoTOR or Fable-esque villain who is functionally the same as the good guy but with dark clothing, but a legitimately unhinged and immoral/amoral force for bad in the world. This is extremely fun, and I would argue that stuff like SR2 and Crusader Kings 2 really illustrate how game media can differ from film media, in that films find it almost impossible to render an antihero without making him or her somehow sympathetic. This imperative is completely unnecessary for a videogame, many of which are about the PC indulging in a particular role play. Many people who role-play use the word only to mean “self-insertion”, but I for one much prefer to play as people who are not at all like me, like The Boss. (Or King John, to use a CK2 example)

      • LionsPhil says:

        Yeah, I really dig SR2’s narrative journey. Bad things happen to bad people. Some of them are your friends. It’s got way more depth to it than most games, including its cartoony sequels.

        And it really gets you/The Boss into a the turf war zone well. It’s an escalating series of power plays, and The Boss’ actions at very finale are completely natural.

      • Xocrates says:

        I too had massive problems with that aspect of SR2, though largely because I felt “tricked” into it.

        SR3 and SR4 have a playable section before character creation, 2 does not. This may not seem much but it makes a world of difference. It establishes the game’s tone and player character upfront, allowing you to customize to fit.

        I went into 2 fairly blind (got it as a pre-order bonus for DoW II or somesuch) and creating my character to see her turn out to be a completely unrepentant psycho, and doing so without making it clear what exactly she was planning revolted me. I saw my creation become something I abhorred because I was never told what, exactly, I was creating.

        To this day, SR2 remains the only game I rage uninstalled. I never reinstalled, and even though I loved every game since, I’m still not convinced to do so.

        • Riley Lungmus says:

          That’s an interesting point there. Seldom do I create characters in video games that err on the side of sociopathic and evil (Like I could never play Evil characters in Fable because how cartoonishly villianism was portrayed). SR2 was the first game I’ve ever played that I set out to make the biggest psycho possible, who’d murder you just the same as look at you.

          I became a bandage-clad, leather jacket wearing, red-dred clown-made up barefoot serial killer who dispatched cops by beating them to death with a torn off stop-sign.

          Murdering the innocent was second nature.

    • Nyctef says:

      This is exactly the way I felt too. SR2 was a fun game, but it couldn’t decide if it wanted to be GTA or Saint’s Row.

      • malkav11 says:

        No, it had decided. Saints Row -1- was an unremarkable GTA clone that hadn’t figured out its own identity, but by 2? They knew.

    • malkav11 says:

      None of the storyline missions are 100% serious. None of them. Not even the ones that veer abruptly into surprising grimness. The goofiness isn’t as in-your-face and totally ludicrous as it becomes by Saints Row 3, much less 4, but it’s pretty nearly omnipresent. To be honest, I kind of preferred the po face with tongue stuck firmly in cheek and the sometimes dramatic villainy of the Boss that SR2 presents, though I’d never complain about how silly the others get.

  7. FuriKuri says:

    This highlights my main issue with SR4 and Gat Out of Hell particularly – too much power is just given and there’s little sense of progression or personal achievement. Vehicles became utterly pointless so the whole garage/pimping thing is muted (and in GOOH just plain absent). Everything in SR2 felt earned. How cool it was to survive getting an FBI vehicle to a garage in one piece and give it gold trims and kneecappers.

    Don’t get me wrong – SR4/GOOH is still sorta fun but in the same way as IDDQD+IDKFA was fun. They really dumbed down an ostensibly dumb game which actually had a surprising amount of depth.

    Still better than GTA, though. :P

    • lordfrikk says:

      I think the problem is that Gat out of Hell is a 10/90 split between its classic GTA lineage and purely open-world action game like Prototype or Crackdown. The ability to drive vehicles and a lot of other features are there only because the engine can do it and it would probably be more annoying to disable them than it is to leave them alone. Honestly, they should’ve emphasized that it’s an action-y spinoff with a different focus. I can absolutely understand people getting angry because many of the GTA-ish aspects are so completely muted to the point of not being there at all. That said, It’s a nice 7 hour game with a superpower twist, it just wasn’t marketed as such clearly enough before release.

  8. CKScientist says:

    It’s my favorite Saints Row also. It had a very tight cast of characters compared to the later games, and I though the plot was very gripping in places. The bit where you hispanic buddy dies – different people seem to interpret that in different ways. For me it was “The Boss doesn’t want to take the effort to actually help him, and would rather run off to kill the people who did it instead.” The later games didn’t have that horrible edge to your character, he became very mellow.

    By comparison, I thought SR3 was terrible, I couldn’t really follow the plot there were all these random characters turning up and disappearing, and the sense of progression was weak.

    SR4 pulled the series back for me, but by that point it was a very different kind of game.

    • Shakes999 says:

      SR2 is still my favorite by far and its not even close. I thought every thing about it was perfect. I HATED Saints Row 3 when it came out. HATED IT. Everything from the tonal shift, to killing Gat in the first 5 minutes, to the driving, EVERYTHING.

      Now 4 years later I eventually went back and played 3 and 4 and yeah, I did end up enjoying em for what they were. But a part of me has still never forgiven Volition for the direction they went.

      Few games hit me as hard as certain points of The Brotherhood and The Yakuza(? or whatever they were) storylines. Just brutally well done. Gonna have to boot it up.

    • LionsPhil says:

      That surprises me, because I like 2 for the same reasons, but 4 really bothered me because all the cast they keep digging up do nothing but ocasionally throw quips your way. 4 basically has no narrative.

      And the colourful gangs vying for control of the streets—well, the turf war mechanic is just gone entirely for starters—are replaced with just one set of boring, generic aliens. Xinyak is kinda cool but that’s it. Not a single named lieutenant on his side to be interesting.

      Conversely I found 3 a lot closer to 2—or to be more accurate, 2 to be an expanded and improved (technical gripes aside) 3, since I played them out of order.

    • April March says:

      There is a lot to like in SR2, but Carlos’ death is not one of them. The series still wasn’t at the über zany gonzo parody Video Game: The Video Game it later became, but it was still pretty wild and rarely took itself seriously – you still attacked a huge tattoed biker dude by poisoning his ink with nuclear waste, fought a voodoo priest that could throw you around with magicks, and ultimately invaded a secret corporate weapon development facility which you escaped by ramping out of a billboard in an armored car. Stopping that for a teary mercy killing just felt like a scene from a different video game. Or, to be more precise, how Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare 1 had had you die a gruesome, powerless death twice so every Call Of Duty 4,5~ Modern Warfare ∞ from them on had to kill half it playable cast to retain its gritty cred. SR2 improved on the original in ever way, except in understanding why Lin’s death worked narratively. (Although SR is almost a different beast; character development is still what I’d call, surprisingly, the series’ greatest asset, and you can see its embryo in SR, which is, surprisingly, very subtle about its characters’ thoughts and motivations.)

  9. Monggerel says:

    Now, SR 2 does have the series’ since established comedic bent (I’d say it’s considerably funnier than the third game, if memory serves), but it was also, as mentioned in the post, outrageously brutal in certain moments. Especially the Brotherhood (another gang) questline was an escalating slugfest of who could hurt the other in more shocking ways.

    It’s the kind of shit GTA would consider too hardcore – the famous and well-loved torture scene of GTA V at least tries to hide behind a thin veil of satire and faked outrage (not able to actually face itself, because duh, this is fucking GTA), but in these moments SR 2 just goes straight for cruelty. Nothing to say but meanness. It’s… really quite upsetting. One mission involves tricking a man into accidentally killing his girlfriend. Another ends with you burying a crying teenager alive. Then there’s the nuclear waste. And the concert. And the brick. And the bar. And…

    And there really is nothing left to say. If the game’s purpose with all this is to shock you dumb, well, good job then.
    I think I need a smoke now.

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      Qazinsky says:

      Warning, I try to keep this very vague but it can still be SPOILERISH if you’re adept at reading between the lines:

      I agree that the Boss is horrible, no doubt about it, but the burying part, if it is the one I can remember, is kind of motivated (it’s too far, but totally understandable), just ask Gat what he thinks about that situation.

      Also, I don’t remember if the thing with your young hispanic friend whose name I’ve forgotten at the moment was before or after the girlfriend thing, but if it was before, that one was also understandable, remember, we’re talking sociopathic gang members here, of course an eye for an eye is gonna be very literal.

    • FuriKuri says:

      God forbid a bit of guilt should get in the way of otherwise enjoyable mass murder sprees, hmm? I mean, I threw people in front of trains just to see how far they would fly and wiped out hordes of cops just to see what guns I could collect from them. But for the game to have the audacity to suggest such a character would act in utterly despicable ways to actual enemies was totally off the mark.

      Y’know, I probably killed as many ‘friendly’ gang members in my penthouses as anyone else in SR2 because they were too dumb/sycophantic to run away and provided fun targets to test out new guns/ideas.

      The stuff I did in SR2 was, of course, no different to anything I got up to in any of the sequels or GTA games, albeit I was perhaps slightly more indulged in SR2 than any of the others. However, GTA’s biggest failure (since Vice City) was in suggesting their characters were anything other than utter monsters. I mean, I wasn’t entirely happy with the total embracement of ‘zany’ that happened in SR3, but I’ll take it any day over the bullshit ‘morality’ cack-handedly injected into GTA’s storylines.

      • Monggerel says:

        Hey now. I did in no way suggest that SR 2’s approach of painting your main character as someone utterly beyond any sort of moral understanding or forgiveness was worse than, say, GTA’s vague and ennervated attempts at… something or other. Who the fuck cares about it anyway.

        The fact that SR 2 managed to be genuinely shocking and unpleasant in such a raw and spontaneous way is a very solid testament to the sheer energy the game is sinewed by, which is something sorely lacking in general purpose AAA development (though I’m not sure SR 2 would actually qualify as AAA, it certainly doesn’t have the polish).

        This isn’t Spec Ops. This isn’t wagging a finger at the player and making disapproving noises, sipping expensive wine and masturbating furiously at the same time (big company. they have many hands).
        I don’t know what it is, and I’m pretty fucking sure it has no clue about itself either, but it’s certainly different.

        • LionsPhil says:

          It’s a crime thriller. It’s Snatch, only you’re playing some unholy fusion of Boris and Brick Top. The Boss does very bad things to other bad people who all live in their underworld of sociopathy, while around them innocents mostly get on with their happy lives. And it’s sometimes darkly hilarious.

          The funny thing is that the gang war was sufficiently focusing that I didn’t tend to do GTA staples like driving along the pavement knocking down people’s grandmas, outside of silly side activities or such. The violence is more satisfyingly directed toward actual rivals.

          Edit: Actually, thinking about it, the best touchstone for SR3 fans considering 2 is the Bad Ending of 3, where you choose not to be a hero. That is the tone 2 hits on a semi-regular climactic basis.

          • malkav11 says:

            Yeah. I really appreciated that about it. I can understand it feeling jarring, though, since it’s so silly most of the time and nobody in that design space was really doing anything like that previously. Including Volition. SR1 is so…bland.

      • JD Ogre says:

        “However, GTA’s biggest failure (since Vice City) was in suggesting their characters were anything other than utter monsters.”

        Tommy Vercetti’d be right at home in Stilwater, definitely, and would likely be the head of the most ruthlessly brutal gang in the series. C.J. and Niko, however, wouldn’t last a week (going by how they are in cutscenes rather than the *player’s* actions in-game). Dunno about Claude “GTA III” Speed, however. Bit of a wild card, that one.

    • Smithnikov says:

      I didnt’ find those upsetting at all.

      That “crying teenager” you bury alive was a two bit punk who didn’t even deserve what power he had, ordered an assassination on not just your friend, but also got you to murder his far more competent lieutenant out of pure jealousy, and to top it all off, wouldn’t even allow you and Johnny a chance to mourn Aisha’s death. Shogo deserved everything he got.

      Ditto for tricking Maero into killing his girlfriend. Did you forget that Jessica arranged for Carlos to be dragged to death? Mess with a killer’s friends, and this is what you get. As for Maero himself, he flat out tries to intimidate you into surrendering most of your gains right from the get go. Again, kick a tiger in the ass, you better have a plan for it’s teeth.

      Does that make The Boss, Gat, ect…good people? Nope. Not even close, but this game isn’t about “good” people, it’s a slightly tongue in cheek crime game with bad people doing bad things to people even more bad than them.

  10. tomimt says:

    I just recently bought SR2 from a sale and I must admit it is better than I expected. I loved SR2 and SR4, both games I like very much. And while SR2 laks the insanity of the later parts of the series, it is pretty fun on its own right.

  11. Kraizk says:

    The game was almost unplayable at launch. Not sure about now to be honest. That said, the game was so good I had to qualify that statement as “almost unplayable” because a friend and I CO-OP’d that entire cluster f anyways and it is still one of the best times I’ve had playing a video game. I can’t imagine how much more fun I’d have had if it wasn’t a laggy, choppy, uncontrollable mess.

  12. Rizlar says:

    [edit snip: I’m an idiot]

    Have it on steam via some bundle or another. Installing now!

  13. quarpec says:

    christ, it’s so broken on pc that this recommendation straight up doesn’t belong on a pc only gaming blog

    worse still than dark souls 1

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    phuzz says:

    I can’t think of any game that involves driving, that everyone agrees either handles well, or badly.
    Lots of people hate the car handling in this game. Lots of people like it.
    Same with GTA4 (and probably V when it’s out on PC).
    Is it about time that we admit that car handling in games is entirely subjective?

  15. Baines says:

    Any modern PC is fast enough to forget its performance problems

    Considering one of the problems was the game would run at the wrong speed if your CPU clock speed was different from the Xbox clock speed, that isn’t actually true. At least if you happened to be running the wrong OS.

    CD Projekt did a pretty awful job porting the game to PC.

  16. JD Ogre says:

    Yes. Yes I have played SR2. On PC [Win7 64-bit, 3.1GHz Athlon II X2 (haven’t played it on my current 3.2GHz Phenom II X4 yet, however) , 4GB DDR3 RAM, 512MB Radeon HD5670] – without any of the problems everyone seems to whine about. Worst I got, beyond the occasional silent crash to desktop (3 or 4 times in 2 playthroughs) and NPCs getting stuck in geometry (ie, problems common to plenty of modern games) were the flat, colored bars coming from eyes and light sources (same as in Oblivion, New Vegas and Skyrim) that fixed themselves via loading screens. And, no, I didn’t have Gentlemen of the Row installed.

    Worst I can say about it is that controls felt a little clunky – but no more so than in SR3 (in which I just finished my 4th playthrough this morning; I use KB&M for foot, XB360 pad for vehicles).

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    Bluerps says:

    I want to make a joke about how I can’t hear you calling SR2 better than 3 and 4 over the sound of What is Love and exploding spaceships, but I haven’t actually played SR2, so there is a tiny chance you might actually be right. :|

    I haven’t played it mainly because of it’s technical problems on PC – but apparently those aren’t so bad nowadays, so I might actually play it one day. I mean, it has a good chance of being the third best Saints Row game, after all!

    • malkav11 says:

      Depends on what you love about the series. If it’s absolute lunacy and inspired choices of music to back certain climactic scenes, you’re probably going to be a bit disappointed. If you are okay with a bit less gonzo in your storylines (they’re still pretty silly mostly) and a whole lot of really solid, carefully crafted open world design? It’s fabulous and you should absolutely experience it.

      • Premium User Badge

        Bluerps says:

        Well, I do love SR3 and 4 mostly for their characters, zaniness (because good zany is very rare – in most cases zany just means gratingly unfunny) and writing in general. Their world is maybe not that great, but I don’t really notice that because it’s not the reason I play the games.

        However, I do like good open worlds too. So I might like SR2, just for different reasons than 3 and 4.

        • malkav11 says:

          The writing is as good or (IMHO) better in SR2. It’s just not as flagrantly ridiculous.

  18. LionsPhil says:


    Alice knows how to pick her ride.

  19. sinister agent says:

    I played it just last night, as it happens (on the funsquare, obv. Some games just fit better on them). Great fun, and the only game where I’ve found myself spending most of my money on clothes. My character is better dressed than I am :(

    She looks adorably dorky in a skirt and socks, though. Kind of a like a frumpy 6th form student.

  20. Sidewinder says:

    Geez Louise, did you guys even play the same game I did? I’ll admit I was late to the Saints Row party; only hopping in when I grabbed 2, 3, and 4 in a Steam sale a year and a half ago; so maybe the patches have changed things, but of the three, 2 has been by far the most stable and easiest to control. No trying to sign an autograph for a fan and accidentally grabbing them to use a human shield because the engine couldn’t fathom that you might be using a controller with more than four buttons; no floaty aiming that feels like you’re trying to control a character through soup; no precision head shots that just cause the target to spin around and stagger half the time.

  21. Wulfram says:

    I played SR3 first, so my perspective is perhaps a little off

    I can see why someone would prefer SR2. Even outside of the thematic shift, I think in some ways it is simply better. But I find it too “grounded” in places for me to really relax and enjoy it. SR3 did a good job of establishing it as nothing more than cops ‘n’ robbers from the start, and I needed that to appreciate it.

    Also, until I got a few mods the playing the game for any length of time made me feel really rather ill.

  22. Evil Pancakes says:

    What I liked best and remember most fondly about SR2 is the way they approached side missions in that game. Each side mission type had a sort of narrative justification for whatever the hell it was you were doing. Be it causing general mayhem for a tv show or spraying poo all over buildings to lower their real estate value. The little narratives weren’t great by any means, but it added a little flavour and would provide some fun and silly dialogue. In SR3 and 4 these were just things you could do on the side that would give you some extra cash and stuff. Which is why I got so bored of those last two outside of the main story, whereas I finished every side activity in SR2.

    • malkav11 says:

      A lot of those involved callbacks to the original game, btw. Not that PC-only gamers would know (or are missing out on much). But yeah, another nice bit of care put into it.

  23. TheBigBookOfTerror says:

    Only thing I really loved about SR3 was the new engine and Burt Reynolds. SR2 had a much better city to explore. The car controls weren’t so much of an issue as I spent most of my time outside of missons on foot going in every building it was possible to and being amused by the antics of the npcs. once I bought a compatible gamepad the controls weren’t an issue. The little touches in SR2 are what make it my favourite. My mind was blown when I realised that my character was singing along to the radio and it wasn’t a scripted sequence like in the sequels. The cops style show is my favourite side game. Only 4 loved up to the fun I had in 2.

    • Premium User Badge

      Qazinsky says:

      Yeah, people always mentions the shit spraying side mission but imo insurance fraud and cops were the best in SR2, my brother and I made sure to do all the cops because they were really fun, doing outlandish violence within an alotted time while trying to keep the camera man, Steve (yes, we named him Steve) alive and within range.

  24. Ryuuga says:

    How much can you customize the boss? I’d be sad if I couldn’t play my alabaster-skinned, melon-titted, super-curvy, helium-voiced, purple-haired nutter from SR4, and if it’s man-only, I’d pass on it altogether.

    • sinister agent says:

      My reply seems to have been splatted, so. In short; SR2 has better avatar customisation options than basically any game ever. You can look pretty much however you want, within human limits. And you can pay a trivial sum to change any of them at in-game plastic surgeons. Here are all six voices singing along to Take On Me: link to youtube.com

      • Ryuuga says:

        Haha, that’s awesome! Tho now I got a hunkering for playing some totally different game. Something lighthearted about weirdo gangsters trying to fit in to some kinda normal life? Oh well. SR2 added to my to play-list.

      • TWChristine says:

        Huh, I feel the complete opposite about the customization. I played 3 first and was hoping to make a similar looking character in 2 but the options were extremely limited (for instance, just hair). With that said, I’ve only played a little past the escape from the courtroom because I was having trouble driving the cars with m+k, so perhaps there’s more options at the plastic surgeons? Though that doesn’t make as much sense to me why you couldn’t just do those options at the beginning..

        • April March says:

          The options at the beginning are all that there is. But your overall costumization is a lot greater, because of the clothing.

          In 3 forward, (3 fourth? Oh ho ho) you can only choose a few things about your character. Hat, eyewear, torso, pants, underwear and backpack. That’s a lot of things, right?

          In 2, each part had different layers. You could choose underwear, then a shirt, then a coat. You could choose different socks for you shoes. You could have (as I did) a man wearing a tidy business shirt under a biker’s jacket. You could have (as Yahtzee suggested) a man wearing S&M garments under a prim and proper business suit. And then, on top of that, you could apply logos. You could put a logo on a shirt. Then you could change the logo’s colour and position and transparency. Then you could put on a jacket that covered the logo. I honestly think that at the time of launch it had the most detailed character creation thingamajig for any game. If not, for single player games at least. But you really need to play it (enough so that you know which stores have what, and so you can buy pieces of clothing) to get it.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Damn it, reinstalling.

      • Rindan says:

        Yes. This. SR2 had the best character customization by far. In SR3 and SR4, if you play a male, you can play a chisel jawed guy with black hair or blond hair. In SR2, I played literally myself; I don’t have a chiseled jaw line. It was remarkable how close I could get to making someone that looked exactly like me. You could actually make someone who was kind of ugly (uh, no offense to myself intended). I personally loved it a little maniacal avatar of me running around being an awful wretched shit. I was actively pissed when in SR3 and SR4 you could only play a guy who juiced for living.

    • LionsPhil says:

      More than the latter ones, really. Different VOs, though, sadly—I switched from my SR3/4 Female 1 (Bloodrayne) boss to some predecessor London ‘Ard Man when I went to 2.

      Also it has proper beards.

      • TWChristine says:

        That London ‘Ard Man picture is glorious! lol And I think I’ll have to reinstall it as well just to give it another try. I originally wanted to play it before SR3 incase there was much in the way of story continuity between the two, but it doesn’t seem like there’s any more to it than the Saints became the preeminent gang. I still need to finally get around to beating SR4 anyway so I can try out the new one..

  25. trjp says:

    I’m glad I’m not alone in appreciating SR2 – it absolutely bottles what was amazing about GTA Vice City and missing every GTA since (madness in buckets)

    You MUST have a controller tho – and you MUST have the GoTRow mod because whilst a modern PC will kill-off the performance hitches, it adds a tonne of other issues including making driving cars very, very hard indeed.

    GoTR is one of those mods which simply improves the original in EVERY way tho – you can choose not to include their own ‘additions’ if you wish (they have restored disabled content and added their own) but you NEED the other stuff they offer

    • malkav11 says:

      Gentlemen of the Row is a fantastic mod and absolutely essential. I think Volition ended up hiring IdolNinja, who headed it, around SRIV-ish.

    • Smithnikov says:

      Seconded. Indeed, IdolNinja’s work has re-sparked my interest in the games after a couple of years and made the experience…well, not virginial again, but definitley freshened it up in places where it needed to be, especially for two.

  26. April March says:

    SR2 was indeed great – the poster child for a sequel that knows what the first game wanted to do and fixes all that’s wrong while adding only things that are right. I think the later games are superior in the whole package, but mechanically it’s the best. And in activities as well – it had all the activities from the first, with the ones that were broken fixed, plus several more that were fun and varied, without having the weird one from IV in which you enter Tron-like spaces. (Gat Out of Hell actually scores higher than IV for me just because it never has you leave the city, but it’s still mostly about killing dudes.)

    Though it’s too bad the PC faithful here will never be able to play the original, since it did quite a few things right. For one, the drug trafficking missions (in which you escort an NPC wot drives around to places, basically) were proper bastart hard, and I had to hijack the FBI’s SUV’s and spam grenades to have half a chance of completing. And for two, the game chose your opponents for a race depending on the car you were driving, so you could show up on a SUV and your opponents would be driving SUV’s.

  27. Rindan says:

    For my money, SR2 was by far the best Saints Row game. Don’t get me wrong, I had fun in SR3 and S4, but it was the mindless and easily forgettable fun of a child kicking over a sand castle that no one cares about. SR2 is the fun of beating a kid bigger than you and stomping his sand castle in front of him and his mother.

    SR2 was vastly better than its sequels in a few areas: First, the character customization was VASTLY VASTLY better. In SR2, I made an avatar that looked exactly like me. He was kind of ugly, physically unimpressive, and not a manly male archetype in any way, shape, or form. It was fucking awesome. Friends would walk in and ask how I managed to scan myself in. It was unmistakably me running about being an awful shit to my fellow humans. In SR3 and SR4, you basically get to pick the hair and skin color of your chisel jawed arch type super man. I was really pissed to find out that I could only be a male model in SR3 and SR4. It is shocking how much fun that drove out of those games for me.

    SR2 also had what was by far the best characterizations. In SR2, you play an awful shit. You are not funny awful, you are just awful. You might occasionally be funny while being awful, but you are first and foremost an awful and selfish prick. It was refreshingly new. You were not a hero who sometimes plows over hundreds of civilians, you were a shit who plows over hundreds of civilians and has the personality of someone who would plow over hundreds of civilians. In all the other SR and GTA games there is this disconnect where you play a mildly bad, but mostly heroic person who cares about human life in cutscenes, and then mass murder without a care in the world during game play. In SR2, you play the same piece of shit during the cutscenes that you play during game play. It makes for a far more engaging game. I cared more about my side kicks, even if I was a shit to them, and I actually felt some mild disgust when I did something awful. Making me have feels during a game always sores you points in my book.

    SR2 had a vastly better plot than all the other ones. Your brutal and ruthless rise was just far more engaging. SR3 and especially SR4 had no real plot to speak of. The plot was an excuse to sandbox murder stuff. You start almost instantly on top and never feel like you struggle even a little to rise. In SR2, you feel the struggle to rise.

    Sure, SR2 was a bit twitchy on the PC. Namely, the car controls were REALLY twitchy, but I survived it with my mouse and keyboard. The journey was well worth it. I look forward to the day when someone makes a game that captures the magic of SR2. I want a game where I play an awful yet strangely believable prick and feel it in my gut. Judging by the path SR has gone, I am pretty sure SR5 (or whatever) is not going to be that game.

  28. Premium User Badge

    Neurotic says:

    I had no problem running it on a pretty top-drawer Win 7 x64 machine just last year. The only thing is the CPU speeding up the game a bit much. This is very easily fixed with the awesome Gentlemen of The Row CP (link to idolninja.com), which also fixes loads of bugs and generally makes everything super sexy. And when you’ve finished playing SR2, you can read my 3-part history of Volition/GTA V/SR comparison (link to xp4t.com). :D *runs away before the self-promotion police arrive*

    • mike2R says:

      That’s actually an interesting read. Nice to find someone else who remembers that the first Saints Row, while certainly a GTA clone, did actually improve on the core mechanics with things like a proper GPS system.

      I can remember having this argument with my house mate of the time, going on about how much better it was to have your actual route plotted out, rather than trying to find a dot on the map. He just flat out refused to play the “rip-off” though. The control system was better than the previous GTA too as I recall, having proper shooter-type controls rather than (on consoles) GTAS’s lock-on targeting system.

      • Premium User Badge

        Neurotic says:

        Thanks man. Yeah, Saints Row nailed the combat from get-go, even the melee feels right. Perhaps GTA will get it sorted now though.

  29. Foosnark says:

    Back when I was applying to work at Volition, I gave SR2 a try to see what they were up to. I enjoyed Red Faction Guerilla (aka Space Asshole) far more.

    I hated SR2 for two reasons: poor controls, and my character was a horrible, unredeemable scumbag who I could not sympathize with in any way and wanted nothing to do with. I like rebellious underdogs fighting against tyranny. I don’t want to hear about murderers in it for the lulz.