Saints Row 2 Rules Amongst The Fools: Why Saints Row 2 Rules and Where The Series Went Wrong

  • Without a shred of doubt in my mind, Saints Row 2 is the best Saints Row game and one of the greatest open-world games ever made. I love pretty much everything about Saints Row 2, from the batshit insane side quests, to the myriad of great tunes you can listen to from one of a handful of the game’s radio stations, to the gripping story, memorable gangs and the comedic taunts-oh not the forgetting the strange goofy British accent you can choose for your character The Boss’s voice.

    There are many reasons why Saints Row 2 is truly great-but most of all it has a set of unashamed and in-your-face balls. In retrospect, we need Saints Row 2’s balls to show game developers just how unabashed game design is the best kind of game design. If you don’t mind dirty humor, dildos and nakedness, then SR2 will show it all to you and you better smile at it and like it, because this is what Saints Row is about and it’s all the series ever truly needed to get noticed.

    If you take a look at what the follow-up Saints Row: The Third, it’s quite evident that it decided to pare back the over-the-top crassness for something more cartoonish but lacking the sense of audacity Saints Row 2 brought us. Look at the side missions as a crystal clear example. We went from hosing down houses in raw shit, to participating in a game show where some weird pink/white Japanese cat with a Cheshire cat grin on its face tells you to kill contestants for money. Ok, The Third still had a few jolts of daring game design rippling through its corpus, but where is the existentialism?

    The Third did polish Saints Row up, made it look classier, moved it to a new location in Steelport, made The Saints look more respectable like a hobo turning into a wise guy for the Mafia-but that in turn sucks much of the unique appeal it had already established in SR2. I don’t want The Saints getting smarter, they’re better when they’re doing stupid shit and showing the gamer how revealing it truly is.

    Saints Row 2 gave the series a proper presence and a personality far away from what GTA has given us. The first Saints Row borrowed GTA elements and reworked them with some new ideas, but Saints Row 2 upped the ante in a way GTA was afraid to-by going dirty and getting its business out and flaunting us with it.

    The lesson here is if you have a style that works, you can’t just exchange it for something prim and proper, or you may as well be another open-world game altogether, a pretender that hit it big with something bold, new and popular, but decided the old way was best and headed back in that direction. That’s sorta what Saints Row: The Third did, but managed to paint over it with wrestling moves, a tiger in a car and more high-octane missions.

    As for Saints Row IV, it went all the way into the superpowered fantasy hinted at in The Third, dropping every aspect of fictionally-contained realism into something with aliens-mind you Red Faction did the same thing with Armageddon come to think of it-but unfortunately in so doing SRIV killed the series until now because the reboot is here.....oh yeah Gat Out of Hell happened-and it sucked, so moving on.

    Now the new Saints Row is coming out and it looks to have taken all the goofiness and the hard work established in the first 4 games, put them in the bin, lit them on fire, and now we have to deal with a group of hipsters as The Saints. I do hope it succeeds at capturing the gameplay magic of the previous Saints Row with something zesty to make it a good reboot, but I don’t see it eclipsing any of the games even if it ends up being halfway decent. But I am optimistic and I want to love even if I am a bit too negative at times.

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