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Have You Played... Saints Row 2?

Alice's favourite Saints Row

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.

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