Saints Row 2 Hands On @ PAX ’08

After playing the first Saints Row for more hours than I can
possibly count, I’ve been extremely excited since the announcement of Saints
Row 2 coming in 2008.  After one delay,
which has pushed the game back to October 14 2008, I about lost my mind.  But I would not have to wait that long to at
least get a test run, and this is where PAX 2008 comes into play. 


After a short five minute play through during the media time on
Friday, I knew I had to get back and play the full first mission of Saints Row.
Sunday, I got to finally get a full session in and take in the experience of
Saints Row 2.  I got to the booth and
picked up the first open controller and happened to be next to one of the games
developers.  I restarted the mission from
the beginning and immediately turned off the tutorial and inverted my Y Axis
controls.  At this point, the developer
made a joke about how I must have played the first one, to which I


You start off in a prison after going through plastic
surgery to reconstruct how you look five years following the ending of the first Saints Row.   At this point, another prisoner
helps you break out and you have to take down prison guards.  The very first thing you notice has improved
is the fighting system.  Pressing the
punch and kick buttons in various sequences deals out different combos and powerful
hits.  After taking down the first room
of guards, the dev. let me know that they wanted people to get access to a
variety of weapons off the get go, so it doesn’t feel like you’re stuck
starting a whole new game, but to really let you feel as you are continuing the
first one.  He mentioned a room to get a
bunch of weapons, including the new satchel charges.


You can imagine my joy to try out the new satchel
charges.  As soon as I made my way
outside the prison, I started tossing the charges and detonating them on as
many guards as possible.  There is also a
way to take people as a human shield/hostage, and when you are finished with
the person, you can either let them go free or execute them with a nasty shot
to the face.  The controls are extremely
similar to the original game, but are improved upon for a tighter feel.  I did find myself finishing off the guards
rather easily as I made my way to the target location, but I chalked that up to
having some experience with the game, as many others were still in their
learning phase.


Overall, I found myself wanting the game even more than
before and anticipating where the story is going from here. The graphics were
improved and the look was darker and grittier, the voice acting I got to hear
was very well done, and fit the characters without feeling cheesy and over the
top.  I skipped the character
customization as I know I will enjoy working with the sliders and options from
my own couch where my time is virtually unlimited.  I do wish they could have shown the co-op
mode, as it would have been nice to see how smooth the gameplay is with two
people at the same time.


After just playing the first mission, I definitely wanted to
keep coming back to the booth to replay it over and over. I will go out on a
limb here and brace for flaming, as I believe this game will be better than
Grand Theft Auto IV overall.  Will the
game be better graphically? Probably not, but what made the GTA games good to me
pre-GTAIV, was the fact it was fun to just pick up, play and have fun without doing the mission parts.  The controls were more arcade than
simulation, and the game never took itself too serious.  Saints Row 2 is building upon what made the 2nd gen Grand Theft Auto games and Saints Row 1 so much fun. This is definitely shaping up to be a great
game, and I look forward to getting the full experience come October 14th.

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