Anyone that knows me (which most of you probably won't) will know how much I love this classic title. Back when it was more grounded (not to say it's wacky departure was a bad thing it more or less had to be done a reason I'll touch on later) this for me was everything a sandbox should be. Big open worlds, multiple customizable vehicles, activities from being fake police officers to just blowing stuff amongst other things. And that's only the side stuff. Where this game gets me is the narrative and gameplay and picking up where we left off from the first game.
So long story short, you take down the plethora of gangs and their strongholds Stilwater has to offer bringing the saints to the top. The police get involved, you run some errands, and you end up on a boat. It blows up and you end up in a coma. Boom five years later you awake...in prison. You are a criminal a member of a formerly notorious street gang so this shouldn't shock you.
Now you're up to speed. And what's the first thing a psychopathic gang member does once awakening from a coma? PRISON BREAK! Yup, you proceed to break out of Stilwater penetentiary with Carlos. You kill some guys, take a boat kill some more guys with a bigger and explosions. Boom. Skip the BS give em the action from the get go. A cutscene ensues and we get our first glimpse and the revamped still water with high rise buildings, the projects, downtown and so on. You're back on the streets where no one knows you once again you're a nobody. You have one goal bring back the saints. Enter Johnny MUTHA******* GAT. The badass to end all badasses is on death row... Again let us not forget these are criminals just relatable ones. He's on death row for 387 counts of murder (and he is only now facing prosecution). Cue gunshots, a weary security guard who gets a door smashed on him, you popping round the corner with a gun to a security guard telling him to drop his gun where he drops it and it misfires. Everyone ducks as the bullet bounces round and all expect the big man Johnny Gat are on the ground scared out their minds. Cue more killing, car chase, and we drop Johnny home (which is a lovely to interior), and we are introduced to another old character, Aisha.
All of this and we haven't met the three main gangs you have to deal with. Sons of Samedi, a gang of druggies, distribute a product called loa dust, which you smoke from a light bulb and worship of a voodoo, led by the general and his second in command, Mr. Sunshine. The Brotherhood, a bunch of tattooed wrestling, rockstar, and monster truck lovers led by the massive Maero. And probably my favourite gang, the Ronin, led by Kazuo and Shogo Akuji and second in command Jyunichi. Their arc holds the most weight and some of the most interesting characters, and they do some bold things. Each gang's narrative is completely different from the next. For instance, you meet with Maero to strike a deal with him before you realise he's taking you, the boss, for a joke. But the crux is each of the gang's final missions. Everything is building to the final confrontations with each boss. After you decapitated Mr. Sunshine in a meat factory, you then set your sights on the general which culminates in a staged crashing of his limo, and then you have to take him on in a weaponized vehicle inside a mall. You take on Maero in a F*****G monster truck. Yes, he uses a plethora monster trucks to take on you before you blow his truck and put a bullet to his head. And my favourite final boss against Mr. Akuji is a sword fight amongst a burning ship, need I say more. And you'd think once you've done that you're done, but no no no. One more gang resides. A corporation. The former clothing company that has refurbished the saints row district led by Dane Vogel, Ultor. Taking out then means ultimate power. Your gang has their backs against the wall as Ultor really apply the heat, but once you expose their military bunker and various other things, you make your assault on Ultor a giant high rise office. There Dane, as if he hasn't been messing with you, tries to claim he's the saints' number one fan where you presume to bullet through his mouth he falls out his window onto a cop car below. And end game right? No, you still got loose ends to tie up. Former members of the gang from the first saints row have moved on to "bigger" things. Turns out a loyal friend, Troy Bradshaw, is an undercover cop and is now chief of police. Dex works for Ultor. And the two-timing former leader of the saints, Julius, is nowhere to be found. There, a series of conversations that can be listened to at Stilwater police station about how the boat you were aboard five years ago blew up. It was all Julius. You obtain Dex's phone number and he opts to meet you at the old church where you meet none other than the traitor himself, Julius, and of course you're pretty angry, so you punch him in the face as he begs you to stop. "I never thought I'd see you beg Julius." It's a set-up by Dex to tie up his own loose ends, and for a moment you both put aside your differences to deal with Ultor forces after which culminates in a car chase to the coliseum. "Just like old times right play-off" you shoot in the stomach cutting him off. Sweet revenge is nigh. "You owe playa, if it weren't me you woulda died on that Street corner"
"If it weren't for you I wouldn't have been in a goddamn coma."
"I guess that makes us even"
From when you first pick this game up, it isn't tryna compete with GTA. Yes, they're both open world sandbox games, but SR2 stands on its own merits. It embraces and plays up the wacky overtop side, which heightens the grounded nature of its story, and trust me I could have gone into detail. There was lots to do in terms of activities, collectables, you could replay missions, and the cheats change the way the game can be played. My personal favourite was low gravity and you basically became John Carter jumping high and free. People nowadays will recommend games like undertale, the Last of Us, the Uncharted series, and so on. But this is a game of a generation that doesn't get the recognition it deserves. In terms of customization and making chaos fun and setting the foundation for the games to come, this is where Saints row and volition realised they are there own thing. So if you can, play this gem.