Saints Row 2
|Saints Row 2|
|Engine||Havok, custom engine|
|Release date(s)||PS3, X360
NA October 14, 2008
AUS October 16, 2008
EU October 17, 2008
JP December 4, 2008
NA January 5, 2009
EU January 23, 2009
|Distribution||Optical disc, download|
Saints Row 2 is a 2008 open world action-adventure video game developed by Volition, Inc. and published by THQ. It was released in October 2008 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and ported to Microsoft Windows in early 2009. A mobile tie-in version was developed by G5 Entertainment and released the same month. The game is the second title and first cross-platform release in the Saints Row series, following 2006's Saints Row. It is succeeded by 2011's Saints Row: The Third and 2013's Saints Row IV.
Set in the fictional city of Stilwater five years after the events of Saints Row, players control the same protagonist and lead a new order of Third Street Saints gang against the three rival gangs occupying their turf and the corrupt Ultor Corporation conglomerate. Players navigate the open world and unlock missions by spending Respect, a currency earned by completing numerous off-mission activities. Two players can cooperatively progress through the game's story mode and participate in all activities. The player may also compete in 12-player deathmatches.
The developers opted for hyperrealism to set the game apart from Grand Theft Auto, a series featuring common gameplay elements. The game's promotional effort included various public showings, special editions and downloadable content including the Ultor Exposed and Corporate Warfare mission packages. Initial reviews were largely favorable, praising the action and hyper-realism, while criticizing technical issues. Reviewers were less receptive to the Windows port, citing worse technical issues. The game had sold around 400,000 units by November 2008, and at least 3.4 million units by September 2010.
Saints Row 2 is an action-adventure video game set in an open world environment, offering the player a large open environment in which to move around. The player's character is capable of maneuvering through the environment, utilizing weaponry and engaging in melee combat warfare. After successfully completing the first game mission, the player is able to explore the environment and choose how they wish to play the game. Missions are unlocked by earning 'respect' points from minigames and side-missions and although completing missions is necessary for game progression, players can complete them at their own leisure. The player is granted the option of instantly retrying the missions should they fail an attempt. Numerous checkpoints save progress in each mission, and missions can be replayed from locations within the environment. Aside from attempting missions, the player can explore the environment, purchase items at shops and participate in the aforementioned mini-games and side-missions.[unreliable source?] The player can also wreak havoc upon the environment which can provoke potentially fatal attention from authoritative forces. The player can recruit members from a friendly gang and use a mobile phone to contact friends and/or businesses, as well as to input cheat codes. Entering cheats will disable Xbox 360 achievements.
Players drive vehicles that are stolen, bought or unlocked. Aside from automobiles, players can use boats and water craft, helicopters,fixed-wing aircraft and motorcycles. A cruise control system can be activated while using land or sea vehicles. Waypoints can be placed on the pause-screen map, leaving a GPS route between the player character's location and the set destination. Players can hail taxicab services and pay a fee to quickly navigate the city. By taking land vehicles to chop shops, players can apply paint schemes, body mods, hydraulics and nitrous oxide.
Players create their own character through a system that allows them to modify gender, ethnicity, fitness, voice, face and hairstyle. Walk and fighting styles, and personality traits can be assigned. Players purchase clothes, tattoos and piercings, and set outfits can be bought or created and saved to the player character's wardrobe. "Cribs" (safe houses) allow players to withdraw earnings, change outfits, replay missions and save the game. Cribs can be customized by applying themes and purchasing objects like TVs and pool tables. Boats and fixed-wing aircraft can be stored at purchased docks and hangars. Players select the outfits, vehicles, gestures and graffiti styles used by street members of the Third Street Saints.
The combat systems from Saints Row have been updated but many of the basics remain unchanged. While engaging in melee-based combat, the player character will perform combos and charge up attacks, and can execute a finishing move if three consecutive hits are dealt. With a gun equipped, the player can perform a groin attack, and can zoom in for a finer aim reticle. The player can also employ the use of human shields, and can use makeshift weapons pulled from the environment e.g. fire hydrants, cement blocks. Should the player either commit illegal activities or incite rival gang members, they will provoke potentially fatal attention from authoritative figures or rival gangs. The notoriety bar is a visual representation of the proactivity of the opposing figures' response and continual inciting of these groups will bring about a more powerful response, such as SWAT teams from the police. The player will continue to be chased by these groups until captured or killed and must reduce the notoriety bar by either hiding from the police or gang and wait for it to "cool off", or by seeking out a drive-through confessional which will clear the notoriety bar for a small fee. Should the player character be apprehended or killed, a small percentage of the player's earnings will be removed and the player will respawn at law or healthcare institutions. The game contains over forty different weapons, many of which have been recycled from Saints Row. The game allows the player to utilise new weapon types, examples of which include satchel charges, laser-guided rocket launchers, chainsaws and more. The player has the ability to dual wield handguns and submachine guns. Weaponry can be purchased by the player from specific stores or unlocked throughout in-game progress.
Players navigate the open world, fictional city of Stilwater. The city consists of forty-five neighborhoods divided between twenty districts. It is expanded from Saints Row's version of Stilwater, roughly one-and-a-half times as big and featuring new districts such as the prison, nuclear power plant, and expanded airport among others. Game developers stated that the city has very much been redeveloped and each individual neighborhood has been touched up in one way or another. According to the storyline, the in-game corporation Ultor spent more than three-hundred million dollars redeveloping the city, funding the police force and, as it states, turning the "once crime-ridden third-tier city" into an "urban utopia". The Saints Row district is a more notable change within the city, having been completely redesigned and serving as the location of Ultor's headquarters; a towering skyscraper referred to as the Phillips Building. Many old districts from the earlier revision of Stilwater have also seen changes. Examples include the expansion taken place on the Suburbs district, which is double the size of its depiction in Saints Row and the Museum district, which features the Eramenos Ancient Greek museum exhibit, complete with models of the Acropolis of Athens and Theatre of Dionysus. There are also several completely new districts, such as the Marina and the University.
From the beginning of the game, the map of Stilwater is fully visible. However, shops and activities will simply be displayed as a question mark until the player discovers them. By completing missions and wiping out enemy strongholds the player gains control of the various neighborhoods the city is split into. There are over 130 interiors within the city, and hidden events can be triggered by some, including over ninety shops which can be purchased when the player controls each shops' associated territory. The player gets a 10% discount at owned stores and buying an entire chain of departments will mean that the protagonist's face appears on in-game billboard advertisements. The game shares technology with that of Red Faction: Guerrilla, another Volition-developed game and so certain elements of the environment are fully destructible. A number of Easter eggs are placed within the sandbox, including the pop-out Easter Bunny which won "Top Easter Egg of 2008".
The Respect system is a scoring system where the player earns Respect points to unlock missions and progress through the storyline. The player can partake in storyline and stronghold missions only after filling up at least one bar of Respect, and Respect points are removed when the player starts a mission. The 'style rank' is a modifier of how much Respect the player can earn; this is increased by purchasing items for the player character. Respect points can be earned in two ways; by progressing through side-missions called Activities and by completing mini-games and stunts called Diversions.
There are a broad range of Activities and Diversions available for the player to progress through. Many of the game's Activities made appearance in Saints Row and a variety of new Activities have also been introduced in the game. Examples include an underground fight club, a parody of the Cops television show known as FUZZ and numerous others. Each Activity can be initiated from various locations and plays out over six levels of increasing difficulty. The Activities have been designed to suit solo and co-operative play. Most Diversions do not have specific start points. There are numerous Diversions playable in the game, such as acts of indecent exposure, combat and driving stunts, car surfing and a survival horror minigame called Zombie Uprising.
Saints Row 2 has various multiplayer components implemented throughout the game. Through an online network or through System Linking, the player can progress through the game with a cooperative partner. While in co-op mode, both players can explore the city and progress through the game's storyline missions and minigames. Both players are rewarded and credited for completion of such activities, and the players can furthermore play against each other in competitive metagames. The co-op mode is "drop-in/drop-out" and there is no limit as to how far the players can be away from each other.
The game contains competitive multiplayer modes, supporting between four and twelve players in a match. There are two standard deathmatch modes; the free-for-all "Gangsta Brawl" mode and its team-based variant, "Team Gangsta Brawl". Another mode, known as "Strong Arm", puts two teams against each other fighting for control over the neighborhood. In "Strong Arm", the first team to earn $100,000 dollars wins and money is earned by competing head-to-head in activities, controlling "tag spots" which serve as bonus modifiers or by eliminating members of the opposing team. While in a party, players are free to roam around a lobby. The player can rank up in multiplayer and displays this by earning various "badges" which are displayed next to the player's name. By ranking up, the player can unlock more expensive clothing for their multiplayer character.
Following the events of Saints Row, the Third Street Saints street gang dissolved and three gangs took its place: the Brotherhood, a heavy metal gang that specializes in arms trafficking and demolition derbies, the Sons of Samedi, a Haitian voodoo gang that controls drug trafficking, and The Ronin, a Japanese biker gang that controls casinos and night clubs. Following the disbanding of the Saints, Johnny Gat, the Saints' trustful enforcer, was arrested and awaits trial for mass murder. Aisha, his girlfriend, has faked her death for her own protection but continues to sell records. An earthquake leveled much of Stilwater, and as a result, a corporation named Ultor began renovating the city and became very powerful in the process, taking over the Saints' old slum territory and turning it into Stilwater's big financial district. Dexter "Dex" Jackson has reformed and is now Ultor's head of security, while Troy Bradshaw is the city's chief of police.
Contrary to the belief of many, the player is actually alive, and has been in a coma at the infirmary of Stilwater's high security prison for five years. Having sustained major injury following the explosion, he/she is given extensive plastic surgery and finally wakes up. Another inmate, Carlos Mendoza, gets himself stabbed in order to see the player, and pitches a plan of escape. After shooting their way through the prison, Carlos and the player successfully escape in a boat. Upon arriving in mainland Stilwater, the player frees Johnny Gat from his trial, sets up a new headquarters for the resurrected Saints, and recruits Carlos and two other new lieutenants, Pierce and Shaundi. They plan to reclaim the city and restore the gang to its former glory.
The leader of the Brotherhood, Maero, initially wishes to make a truce with the Saints, and meets with Carlos and the player (now known as the Boss) at the Brotherhood's headquarters. Maero, knowing the Saints are weak, offers a ludicrous deal; upon reclamation of the city, the Brotherhood will control 80% while the Saints control just 20%. The Boss, offended by the offer, boldly refuses and starts a gang war. They first kidnap Donnie, Westside Rollerz member turned Brotherhood mechanic, and force him to blow up several of the Brotherhood's trucks. The Boss also laces Maero's tattoo ink with nuclear waste, disfiguring him. In retaliation, Carlos is kidnapped, tied to the back of a truck and brutally dragged through the city at high speed. By the time the Boss comes to his aid, his injuries are so severe that the Boss is forced to kill him out of mercy. Seeking vengeance, the Boss kidnaps Maero's girlfriend and puts her in the trunk of her car at a monster truck derby, and is crushed by an unknowing Maero. Following a police crackdown, much of the Brotherhood is arrested. Maero threatens Dane Vogel, the Ultor CEO, to release his imprisoned allies, only for the Boss to kill them before they reach Stilwater's streets. Vogel then attempts to seize the Brotherhood's shipment of weapons, only for the Saints to snatch it from both of them. Now heavily armed, the Saints launch an assault on Brotherhood's dockside headquarters, but Maero gets away. Some time later, Maero attempts to ambush The Boss with the remaining members of the Brotherhood. The Boss kills them all, and finishes a critically injured Maero off with a shot to the head.
To eliminate the Sons of Samedi, the Boss works with Shaundi to take over the distribution of their trademark designer drug "Loa Dust". They kill the Samedi's dealers and destroy their drug manufacturing infrastructure. In retaliation, Shaundi's ex-boyfriend and Samedi enforcer, DJ Veteran Child, kidnaps her, but she is rescued by the Boss, who proceeds to kill Veteran Child in the process. Later, the Boss is ambushed, drugged and forced into the limousine of The General, the Samedi's leader. The General explains to the drugged Boss how much he is displeased with the Saints taking over his business and territory. He plans to have the Boss executed, but they manage to escape the vehicle in time. After destroying an inbound shipment of Loa Dust, the Saints target the Samedi's leadership. First, the Boss kills the gang's second-in-command, Mr. Sunshine, at his hideout. Then, after locating The General thanks to Shaundi hacking Stilwater's surveillance system, the Boss ambushes his convoy and kills him in a shootout at the Stilwater Mall.
The Boss, Johnny Gat and Pierce set out to attack the Ronin, first by robbing a casino owned by the Ronin. Incensed by this, Kazuo Akuji, the father of the Ronin's leader Shogo Akuji, travels to Stilwater himself to take control of the situation. Shogo attempts to recover the stolen cash by having his second-in-command, Jyunichi, kidnap Gat's girlfriend Aisha; this ends with Aisha dead and Gat critically wounded after being impaled by Jyunichi during a swordfight. The Boss subsequently kills Jyunichi in revenge. By the time Gat recovers, Kazuo Akuji has broken the Ronin's connections with Ultor. Vogel reacts by giving the Saints the location of the Ronin's headquarters, which the Boss and Gat destroy. Disgraced, Shogo attacks the Saints during Aisha's funeral. He and the Boss fend off the attacking Ronin, and Johnny avenges Aisha's death by brutally beating Shogo before burying him alive. In a last-ditch effort to destroy the Saints, Kazuo has the Ronin attack the Saints headquarters, but the Saints successfully defend themselves. Finally, Kazuo and the remaining Ronin attack the heritage festival of Mr. Wong, one of the Boss' old accomplices. The Boss comes to his aid, mortally wounding Kazuo in a swordfight and leaving him to die in the burning wreck of one of the buildings.
As the Saints take over Stilwater, Vogel plots to wipe them out so Ultor can renovate the rundown district of Shivington. Once the Saints are the only gang left in Stilwater, Ultor's private security force attempts to take them out, but the operation fails. Under pressure from Ultor's board of directors as the company is targeted by the Saints, Vogel leaks their location to the Boss, who proceeds to kill them. Vogel subsequently takes over as chairman of the board, giving him unlimited power in the corporation. At the press conference where he announces his takeover, Vogel is targeted by the Saints in an assassination attempt. He escapes to Ultor's headquarters, only for the Boss to track him down and personally kill him, leaving no one to challenge the Saints' control of Stilwater.
At any point in the story after rescuing Johnny Gat, the player can unlock a secret mission by visiting the Stilwater Police HQ and listening to wiretap conversations. The wiretaps reveal that former Saints leader Julius Little planted the bomb on Hughes' yacht, hoping to kill the Boss and let the Saints dissolve in peace. The Boss can also find the phone number of Dex, who offers to meet with the Boss at the old Saints Row church with information on Julius' whereabouts. When the Boss arrives, they instead find Julius, and the two realize that they were set up for an assassination attempt by Dex. After they both escape from Ultor's hit team, the Boss shoots Julius. Before the Boss finishes him off, Julius explains his betrayal and berates the Boss for allowing the Saints to become as destructive as the gangs they were originally supposed to be fighting against. Enthralled with their new power, the Boss is unmoved by his words and kills him with a shot to the head.
Volition began work on Saints Row 2 in 2005, about a year before Saints Row was released. The sequel was first announced by THQ's CEO Brian Farrell in a February 2007 conference call, alongside another six franchise continuations for the 2008 fiscal year. Game details began to surface in May 2008 after the first teaser trailer was released and sites like IGN and GameSpot reported on an early version of the game.
One of the development team's core goals was to develop an identity for the Saints Row franchise within the open world genre. The series was known as a "Grand Theft Auto clone" based on its first release's similarities to the open world sandbox game Grand Theft Auto III. Accordingly, Saints Row 2 was compared to the Grand Theft Auto series' own upcoming sequel, Grand Theft Auto IV. When questioned about the two sequels' close release dates, lead producer Greg Donovan responded that they thought their game could compete, that he saw the Grand Theft Auto sequel moving "in a more realistic direction", and that there was "room for more than just one game" in the open world genre as "a very different experience than what ... other games are looking to do". The team took an "over-the-top" design approach, with cartoonish pastiche and "wild and outrageous" gameplay. Many early game elements were considered too crass to be included in the final release.
Many of the original Saints Row developers continued onto the sequel's team. Thus, the team worked from their lessons learned rather than starting anew. The two games were consequently similar in design. They overhauled the game engine to enhance the sequel's graphics, and added contrast and higher-quality textures to make the city setting of Stilwater more realistic. Visual enhancements were also applied to people, cars, explosions, lighting, shadows, and the weather system. A central design goal was to "create a world that exists independent of the player" that featured more realistic non-player characters (NPCs) that would smoke cigarettes, use cellphones, drink coffee, open umbrellas when it rained, and physically interact. The original game's engine could not support close proximity NPC interaction like sitting together or cuddling. As the city design finalized late in development, the team laboriously hand-placed 20,000 nodes throughout the game world that trigger NPC actions.
The Saints Row series narrative was conceived as a three-part story, with Saints Row 2 as the second of the three. While the developers continued the story of the original game, they sought to accommodate newcomers to the series. The final script had roughly 80,000 lines of dialogue, twice that of Saints Row's. The story drew strong cinematic influence from Quentin Tarantino films Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill. While the script was written to follow "a path of betrayal, revenge and redemption", the game retains Saints Row's light humor, with the "over-the-top, socially distorted" narrative juxtaposed with dark, gritty moments. Saints Row's silent protagonist speaks in Saints Row 2, granting the protagonist more personality and improving the storytelling, according to James Tsai, one of the lead designers. They sought to heavily stylize the game's characters and assign them unique personality traits. The basic character designs followed naturally from the story Volition wanted to tell, but the characters' personalities and mannerisms were mainly a product of the voice acting performances, where the actors had freedom to interpret and develop their characters. The game's voice actors include film and television stars such as Neil Patrick Harris, Michael Dorn, Jay Mohr, Keith David, and Eliza Dushku.
While the first game was released as an Xbox 360 exclusive, Volition expanded the sequel's initial development to the PlayStation 3 platform. The platform was successful in Europe, where Volition wished to expand. The port was developed in-house by a team that previously worked on Xbox 360 development. They struggled with the PlayStation 3's Cell architecture. The game was particularly unstable during development, and would crash after several hours of play. Lead producer Greg Donovan blamed their "failing to take systems and features to completion" as programmers fought last-minute bugs, artists lacked time to finalize designs, and consequently, playtest versions were not ready until late in the development cycle.
Soundtrack and audio
The game's soundtrack features about 170 licensed tracks accessible across twelve in-game radio stations while driving or at home. Station genres include alternative rock, hip-hop, heavy metal, and 1980s pop, with artists such as Opeth, Duran Duran, Lamb of God, The Used, My Chemical Romance, Avenged Sevenfold, Paramore, Panic! at the Disco and Run-D.M.C. The player can create a custom playlist of the licensed tracks to play on a separate station. Lead audio designer Frank Petreikis's budget for licensed music was double that of the previous game so as to secure more prominent tracks.
Volition extended the game's over-the-top atmosphere and humor into the radio stations via commercials. For example, commercials that promoted Ultor Corporation products served to enhance the player's sense of the corporation's omnipresence in Stilwater. The radio commercials were recorded with voice actors in the same room, rather than apart, so as to maximize their group dynamism. Many of the in-game commercials went through several drafts and the developers found this writing process to be challenging.
Prior to its release, Saints Row 2 was heavily marketed and promoted through Internet and television trailers. Volition also ran several fan contests with series-related paraphernalia as prizes. The game's original release date was delayed for marketing considerations. The game's first trailer, in March 2008, was presented as a tourism promotion about the Ultor Corporation's role in rebuilding Stilwater. A full marketing campaign featuring American film actor Gary Busey began the next month. The Street Lessons with Uncle Gary video series demonstrated particular aspects of gameplay. Subsequent trailers over the next several months also highlighted gameplay elements, but one made light of Grand Theft Auto IV's lack of replay value, and another demonstrated the cooperative mode using characters modeled on the candidates from the 2008 United States presidential election. A redesigned official website and community network was launched in July 2008, and American pornographic actress Tera Patrick was featured in her own marketing campaign for the game.
Promotional contests throughout mid-2008 included "Pimp Your Crib" and "Summer of Bling". Another competition from THQ and WorthPlaying gave the winner a trip to a San Francisco Saints Row 2 multiplayer event and published their thoughts online. British fashion label Joystick Junkies ran a T-shirt design competition in September 2008, and the top entry was featured in the game's first downloadable content pack. Another round of "Summer of Bling" awarded the shirts as prizes. The "Trick Your Pack" tool launched in September let the player create their own game box art. There were also other promotions and give-aways. At conventions, Saints Row 2 appeared at the 2008 E3, THQ Gamer's Day, Comic Con, PAX, GameStop Expo, and Leipzig Games Conventions. The game also promoted itself in the Myspace Music Tour and Movember 2008, an Australian fundraiser for men's health. In November, THQ signed a deal with Massive Incorporated to include in-game advertisements on their Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 products. In-game and online, players can also find movie posters throughout the city that promote upcoming releases.
The game was originally scheduled for release in North America on August 28, 2008, but was delayed to October 14 both to add final touches and to launch in a more advantageous release window. The game released in three different "Collectors Editions", each with a copy of the game, a poster, a limited edition art book, and several extras. The Saints Row 2 "Initiation Pack", exclusive to Australia and New Zealand, included a promotional items including a pizza box and bullet-shaped USB memory stick. The Russia-exclusive "Gift - Buka Edition" also included the bullet-shaped USB stick, and the "Gun Pack" included a gun-shaped USB stick. A month before the game's release, Saints Row 2 producer Dan Sutton stated in an interview that they "definitely" planned to make downloadable content.
In June 2008, THQ confirmed that a Microsoft Windows port of the game was in development, but it was delayed past the October release date into January. The Windows version includes keyboard and mouse support and the ability to change display settings. It was released in North America on January 5, 2009, in Europe on January 23, and in Australia on February 5.
Ultor Exposed adds character customization and vehicle options, including Red Faction: Guerrilla-themed content. It also adds multiplayer content, including four online multiplayer maps and a cooperative mode metagame wherein players compete for a cash bonus during story missions by accumulating points from special kill bonuses and property damage. The pack's missions feature American pornographic actress Tera Patrick, who plays herself as a whistleblower and former microbiologist for the Ultor Corporation. Originally slated for release on April 16, 2009, the pack was delayed a week to April 23 so it could be released alongside the demo for Volition-developed game Red Faction: Guerrilla. It was released on April 23, 2009. IGN praised the game's new co-op metagame but criticized its relatively short missions. Eurogamer gave a negative review and criticized its value proposition.
Corporate Warfare focuses on the struggle between the 3rd Street Saints and the Ultor Corporation. The pack adds character costume, facial hair, and vehicle options. It also includes three multiplayer maps and another cooperative mode metagame wherein players compete in ranking by performing vehicle stunts. Corporate Warfare was released via digital download on May 28, 2009.
|Saints Row 2 reviews|
The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 releases of the game received "generally favorable" reviews, according to video game review score aggregator Metacritic, and the Windows release received "mixed or average" reviews.
Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw of The Escapist 's Zero Punctuation named Saints Row 2 his 2008 game of the year. It was a runner up for GameShark's overall and Xbox 360 games of the year. Game Developer named Volition in their top 50 developers of the year for their work on the game, and THQ in their top 20 publishers.
The console version of Saints Row 2 garnered generally positive reviews. The PC version was relatively less well received due to frame rate issues and visual pop-in. 1UP.com gave the game a B, stating that it "relishes the hedonistic aspects of the open-world genre", that it has "plenty of innovation" and that the "excellence in the presentation makes the world of Saints [Row] 2 a great introduction for newcomers to open world games".
Eurogamer gave the game a 9/10, stating that it "is one of the most ridiculous and enjoyable games of the year". Game Informer gave the game an 8.75/10, stating that "in its own silly, b-movie way, it's a damn fun game" and a "profanely good time". GameSpot gave the game an 8.0/10, stating that "from beginning to end, this is one of the most fun urban chaos games out there" and that it will "keep you happily creating havoc for a long time". GameSpy gave the game four and a half stars out of five, stating that it "offers up a shooting and driving experience that is plenty of fun" and that it is "self-consciously funny in its irreverence" and "will definitely appeal to much of its audience".
IGN U.S. gave the game an 8.2/10, stating that "the core gameplay experience is extremely enjoyable". IGN AU gave the game an 8/10, stating that it is "big, dumb fun". IGN UK gave the game a 7.5/10, stating that it "demonstrates that there is still plenty of mileage to be eked out of open-world games" and that "there's certainly enough here to keep any fans of sandbox violence entertained".
Among positive acclaim, some publishers gave the game generally negative reviews. UK magazine Edge gave the game a 5/10, stating that "few of the game's details will stick in your mind for long, and its pranky focus means it rarely gives you anything interesting to do with the toys on offer".
Entertainment Weekly flagged the game as "racist, misogynistic, crude, cynical, humorless and stupid" and labelled it the worst game of 2008, despite previously giving the game a B and calling it "a larcenous good time".
The game did not gain a favourable response from New York City officials and police. City spokespersons requested that the game be pulled from shelves upon its release; NYPD union boss Patrick Lynch criticized the game, stating that "these horrible and violent video games desensitize young people to violence while encouraging depravity, immorality while glorifying criminal behavior".
Jack Thompson, a former lawyer and longtime critic of violent video games, called Saints Row 2 a "Grand Theft Auto ripoff", and said that "as is true with pornography, as is true with violence, the subsequent products tend to push the envelope even more". On Tuesday, October 14, 2008, the game's US release date, candidate Leslie Crocker Snyder and others spoke out against the game, surrounded by police union members who support her bid.
Saints Row 2 sold approximately 365,000 copies in its first month, outselling Dead Space, which was released the same day. The Xbox 360 version comprised the majority of these sales. The game shipped over two million units by the end of 2008. Still, analyst Doug Creutz reported that the game's sales to this point were well below expectations. Following Saints Row 2's January 2009 Windows release, the game had shipped over 2.6 million copies by the next month. In May 2009, THQ reported a $431 million loss in revenue, but Saints Row 2 sales totaled 2.8 million. Combined with the original release, the series had worldwide sales in excess of six million, making it one of the best-selling video game franchises.
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