Morning Discussion

By Chris Faylor, Oct 14, 2008 6:41am PDT Hey hey hey, welcome to Tuesday. This means two things.

First, those in North America should be able to find Dead Space in stores tomorrow. I think it's worth a look, as I came away impressed, and a little scared.

Second, we're one day closer to Friday, which, coincidentally, is when my Xbox 360 comes back from ye olde repair shop. Come home soon darling, I miss you :(

Oh, and if you're one of those Diablo fans, you pretty much need to check out the mind-boggling display of Diablo 3 information that Nick has compiled in his Diablo 3: What We Know So Far preview.

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  • Saint's Row 2 first impression....in reply...

    (A.D.D. and bad grammar warning: very lengthy--had some free time over the weekend so why not..)

    Thread Truncated. Click to see all 7 replies.


    • I got my hands on a copy of Saints Row 2 on Friday and spent the better part of the weekend playing the game. I figured I would share my experience, so far, with you guys. Just to note it: I played the PS3 version of the game, there is a 3.8 GB installation that takes about 7 mins to complete. Load times are almost completely absent once you actually get into the game, although there is a larger load time every time load the game up from the console (think GTAIV but with 1/2 the wait).

      So let me just get this out right now--I got bored with the first SR after 4-5 hours of game time. I have now tried on three separate occasions to return to the game, but each time I just cannot get past the 3rd or 4th hour. I know there are a lot of people out there who really love the 1st game, and that's cool, but for me (this is just my opinion!) it's a mediocre experience at best. I did think the game had lots of potential. I appreciated the wackiness! I enjoy how ridiculous it wants to be and how unapologetic is was about that. SR1 was the 6 year old brother running outside to play football with it's older brother GTA and his friends--but in the end it ended up face down in the mud.

      Times have now changed.

      GTA has graduated high school and moved on to be a thespian in college taking himself a little more seriously (but still a bit of a prankster, right?). Saints Row has grown a bit too--to be the class clown in his senior class. SR now knows what he's doing, how he's doing it, why it's doing it, and even knows you're going to like him. But he does stumble a bit along the way. Lets get started.


      GRAPHICS
      The overall visual presentation has been greatly improved. Everything from the real time lighting effects (immediately apparent from the first mission which is done at night), the texture detailing of...everything, the destroyable environments, the character models, all the way to the water have been improved in some fashion. Some of those things might be trivial to some, but I feel it's at least worth mentioning that this is a much better looking game than the first in every regard. Though the city now feels like it's actually lived in--where the first one felt like a sanitized stage--it still is not even in the same league as GTAIV's environment. GTAIV gave every street corner a unique feel and design throughout the entire city. Every alley felt different, trashed in a unique fashion--lived in. Here it's not the same feeling, but I don’t even know if it's valid. However, when comparisons are made between the two this is probably the one that will stand out for most.


      STORY
      SR2, much like the GTA games, has multiple story's that can progress at whatever pace you please. The cutscenes and dialogs have been improved greatly. They're now mostly enjoyable and are without the annoying dialog from the first one, dropping the F and N bombs left and right. Gone are the awkward cutscenes. Heck there were a few times when they even made me laugh--seriously. There is an apparent effort here to move things forward as far as story telling goes. The characters in the game are more interesting and seem to have a personality now. They're not just mannequins walking around with speakers for mouths reading their lines to the audience. But all that praise might not matter because the actual narrative is pretty lame. But if you're like me, you're not playing SR for the compelling story. Smile

      Mission progression now has checkpoints (thank god!) so if you die in a particular lengthy mission you do not have to start over. Also, you can save anywhere, at any time. Cars that are stored in your garage and permanently stored there regardless if they're destroyed on the road.


      GAMEPLAY
      This is where SR2 really shines and what keeps me coming back! The game breaks usual sandbox mold by not requiring you to progress through the story to unlock various sections of the city--everything in Stilwater is available right from the start. There are some minor improvements I noticed along like the inclusion of cruise control for easier car combat or when you're stuck in the water (from a car wreck perhaps) you now have the option to warp to land. There are more little things like this that I can't recall right now, but it's nice that there was some effort put into making things easier for the player.


      Activities!
      There are a large set of these to participate in. Each section of the city (there are a lot of sections--guessing somewhere around 40?) has it's own set of these little diversions that will earn you money and respect. Each one has some sort of backstory accompanied by a cutscenes to lay things out for you. I'm not completely sure how else to tackle these activities other than to list the ones I've played (I didn’t get to all of them):

      Septic Avenger:
      Easily one of the most disgusting things I've ever done in a video game. You sit on top of a septic truck that runs on autopilot, at the helm of a crap-spewing gun causing as much property damage as possible. As you spray shit everywhere--buildings, cars and even people turn brown to mark your progress (there is a $ meter to let you know exactly where you stand). It's the nastiest fun I've had in a long time. Great fun!

      Zombie Uprising:
      One of my favorites diversions! This little gem is accessible form your crib TV or an arcade. When I originally saw the option to play this game, I figured it would be similar to the emulated 8-bit mini-games in GTA or Bully--nope. This little game utilizes all the same tech that's in the regular game and it's fantastic. You're just a dude (it's randomly generated) who's barracked himself in the middle of some random town square with a few other survivors and must kill off the onslaught of slow moving zombies. There are many weapons at your disposal and the hordes numbers increase with each wave.

      Trail Blazing:
      In this one you ride an ATV, wearing a flame retardant suit, while on fire. The objective here is to follow a designated path throughout a section of Stilwater, blowing things up along the way(any vehicle that touches you explodes). It's complete and total mayhem and a...blast to play (yes I went there).

      Bodyguard:
      Here you must protect a celebrity from their crazed fans. It sounds a little lame and to be honest I wasn’t that interested in playing it at first--but once I gave it a shot I found it to be fun. The activity utilizes the grab mechanic now implemented in the game. You must snatch a crazed fan from jumping on a celeb (there are several different locations, celebs and scenarios) and toss them into a SWAT vehicle, tractor, a wall or even to another bodyguard.

      Fuzz:
      Have you ever wanted to star in a the TV show Cops? This activity has you dress up as a cop (a backstory will lay out the reasons why) with a camera man following you. So it's a bit like the police side-missions in GTA, but with a scared camera-totting guy following you around. It's fun and he's not annoying and never got in my way. He did die once, but you can revive your peeps by pouring out a 40 (I'm not joking).

      There are others activities I haven’t even tackled yet including racing (much like racing in GTAIV), Hitman (assassination missions), and fight club (underground arena fights). There is a lot to do and so far it's been a blast.


      MULTIPLAYER
      Unfortunately I did not get a chance to play any MP yet. But the idea od drop-in-drop-out coop for the entire campaign really really excites me!


      WRAP UP
      The game honestly surprised me. I think overall it's a really fun experience that comes with several flaws. For starters there is no cover mechanic at all-- but it's not a show stopper by any means. I honestly didn’t even think about this until someone asked me if it was in the game and now I find myself wishing it was there. Also, there is no lock-on feature in combat, and that can sometimes lead to some wild and crazy gunfights.

      I would really love to see Volition move out of Rockstar's shadows and head in it's own direction. Rockstar left money on the table with the absence of the wackiness in GTAIV (I want my jetpack!) and it appears THQ saw the opportunity to really go for it and expand on all the crazy, fun things you can do. SR2 really is in the playground sitting in a sandbox--more so than ever before. The shenanigans and tomfoolery are so much fun that it now appears that the genre is splitting into two sub-genres.

      If you're a fan on the original then go out and get this game now! If you enjoyed GTAIV but missed the wackiness, then you just might love this as well--if you can get past some of the flaws. If you're a huge fan of GTAIV, loved the narrative and didnt miss the shenanigans all that much then you might want to pass this one up.


      If you've made it this far in my post--thanks. :)