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Monday | September 24, 2018
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Saints Row 2 (PC)

Saints Row 2 (PC)

Saints Row 2 was released on the next generation consoles quite a while ago and while similarities are always going to be made with it and Grand Theft Auto there are some quite large differences between the two …. What? Well for a start one is actually good fun, the other isn’t!

Before we get into the review any further, let me just state that if you are one of the many who had issues with Grand Theft Auto 4 running on your PC then this is one you will certainly want to avoid. I have a Quad Core Intel CPU running at 3ghz with 2 GB of ram and even on my 9800 GTX the game struggles to maintain a good frame rate at a high resolution (1920). I was getting performance around the 15-20 fps mark which I don’t think is particularly acceptable in 2009 for such a decent gaming PC. Clearly developers recently feel we should all be running Skulltrail with 3 280 GTXs in SLI to get acceptable performance from our console ports!

Saints Row starts a few years after the first one ended and your character has been in a prison hospital in a coma since he/she was blown off a yacht. This opens the door to a good character optimisation system which you can use to select from three male or female accents as well as a huge array of physical attributes to personalise the experience. Later, as the game progresses you get access to new personality traits and costumes as well as fighting styles.

After you create your initial character you can break out of prison and run amok, freeing your friend Johnny Gat and then it is your task to rebuild the Saint’s into the territories leading gang. You do this by various means and by recruiting some lieutenants to control your gang members.
As I said in our console review, the game starts off without having you running through a boring tutorial, instead you are breaking out of prison and jumping on the back of a gunboat to shoot down the pursuing boats and helicopters. Good times!

Once you complete the first tasks then the game opens its doors to you. The whole city of Stillwater is immediately accessible and with that freedom you get various activities to experiment with. The Septic Avenger is a particular favourite of mine and the fact you can spray people and their possessions with faeces is well beyond the realms of good taste !

Unfortunately, while the console version was a lot of fun, the PC version is just a disaster due to glaring coding issues throughout. The performance is so bad that at times I was virtually experiencing a slideshow and even when I lowered the resolution to around 720p, the game would still hitch and shudder through various locations.

The voice acting has been massively improved over the first one and the characterisations are very well constructed to always be making the game flow forward while putting a smile on your face. The minor characters obviously don’t get the same attention to detail but overall it is a pleasing experience.

The story revolves around the quest to take down three gangs. The Brotherhood, the Ronin and the Sons of Samedi. Each of these gangs involves a different character within your lieutenants and this is meant to be more engrossing for you, the player. For the most part it works as there are plenty of cutscenes to help build the story tension and the dramatic flowing nature of the storyline.

There are a huge plethora of missions and they do a good job of keeping the game varied and entertaining throughout. There are missions which obviously will revolve around the usual "hunt and kill" tactics that is the foundation of this genre, but there are also some weird and wacky ideas thrown into the mix to keep it spicy and slightly different than other outings. This game , just like the first is best played with a Xbox 360 controller and the keyboard and mouse may come in handy for precision shots, but as it’s a third person game this isn’t really so much of an issue.

Graphically, the game is a disaster. Sure they look nice on still frames, but the whole experience is a rushed and half assed effort which results in a half assed game. The environments aren’t really even that detailed and the character models certainly aren’t going to be winning any awards for attention to detail. Moving the overall game quality settings to high helps improve texture details, but the game runs so bad it would be hard to find anyone with enough money to make the game run well at high resolutions with all the eye candy maxed.  If you couple the frame rate issues with the fact that there are collision detection issues as well then it’s a recipe for disaster. At one stage I had 3 people stuck inside the bonnet of my car, so when I was driving around their bodies were comically flapping in the wind.

Pop in is another graphical issue and there are times when buildings and other cars just suddenly appear in view as if magically teleported into the scene by some strange alien space craft.  There are bugs galore right throughout and all I can reasonably assume is that it needed more development and playtesting time before being released to the public.

The AI is also extremely badly coded and there have been plenty of times when I have experienced an enemy froze in time while you walk up to him guns blazing. Sometimes they take hostages or shields and others they look as if their brains have just decided to stop working, totally.

The audio side of the game is much stronger and the voice acting is just as fine a job as it was on the 360 and PS3 beforehand. The sound effects are good and the musical score adds some weight to the proceedings, especially with 11 radio stations to choose from. Metal, Rap, pop and dance are all in the mix.

Cooperative play is also well catered for with both players being able to access the whole world online or via LAN, which means that every game can be played with a friend. The AI scales well to fit two players and more bad guys make an appearance to ensure that the game is still challenging with double the fire power.

Competitive multiplayer is also a lot of fun with individual neighbourhoods opened to allow for 8 or 12 player games. You can play against another group of people in objective based modes or just a standard deathmatch style game. There are also a good selection of in game modifiers to keep the action fresh and entertaining.

Saints Row 2 is basically the same core game that was on the 360 and Ps3, but it has suffered from a shoddy, half assed port which has all but ruined the experience for PC users. Only if you lower a lot of the graphical niceties does the game speed up to become playable, but you begin to wonder why a machine with almost four times the power of the aging 360 console struggles to keep framerates high. Only those with a ludicrously expensive PC need apply.



The core game is good but unless you can happily ignore the technical issues it quickly becomes painful.

Horrific framerate ruining the immersion factor. Unacceptable for 2007, nevermind 2009.
Nice voiceacting and sound effects complimented by a good range of stations.
A few BIG patches are needed before this becomes viable.
(not an average)

Pc owners beware, poor coding has made this fun console game virtually unplayable.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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