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Saints Row 2 - 5 Years Later Review



Saints Row 2 is a five year old game. Can I leave this section at that?

More seriously, it is a five year old game and does not show its age very well. The environments are often flat and bland, some characters look odd with how they are shaded, and it is not uncommon to see people walking around wearing the exact same clothes, because only so many outfits are loaded in the memory. On the plus side though, vehicles look pretty good, especially as they take damage, when you can see the deformed panels and bouncing doors. Wheel damage adds a wobble to them, as well as sparks if the tire has been destroyed (but the tire remains on the wheel).

Volumes, such as fire, water splashes, and smoke definitely look dated. I would guess they are actually flat textures being stacked to create the volume, as well as add some variance to their appearance.










Some specs before discussing performance:

  • Processor: AMD A10-5800K @4.40 GHz (44.0x100)
  • Cooling: Corsair H110
  • Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M PRO
  • GPU: EVGA GTX 570 1280 MB
  • PhysX: MSI GTS 250 1 GB
  • G.Skill Ripjaws 4x8 GB (32 GB total) at 1866 MHz 10-10-10-27
  • PSU: OCZ Fata1ty 750 W
  • OS: Windows 7- Professional 64-bit

In theory, Saints Row 2 was running at 60 FPS for almost the entire time I was playing it. In reality though, it was stuttering quite a lot; especially while driving, but other times too. Why would a five year old game have a stutter on such a modern and powerful computer? Because this game is a port, and appears to have not been well optimized for the PC. Apparently some mods do exist to address some of these issues, but I did not use them. Fortunately the stuttering was the worse graphical issue I had for almost the entire game. There was one mission where the framerate dropped to, at best, somewhere in the twenties. I disabled V-Sync and immediately the framerate returned to around 60 FPS, and made the mission playable. After the mission, and without quitting the game, I turned V-Sync back on, and the framerate did not drop again.

For a port though, you do get a decent number of graphical settings, including View Distance, Dynamic Lighting, Motion Blur, and Motion Blur. It is actually listed twice in the display settings and I am not sure why; maybe there are two places motion blur can occur and you can control them separately. I ran the game at max settings, except for motion blur and depth of field being off (personal choice) and I turned the anti-aliasing setting down from 8x to 4x. I did this at the beginning to ease the stuttering, and it actually did help.


One thing to say for the engine is that I never experienced any loading delays while just running around the city of Stilwater. Sometimes cut scenes took a moment to load, and resetting a mission was not quite instantaneous, but from point A to point B, I never spotted any pop-in, of the environment at least. People and vehicles were routinely popping in and out. In some cases I could just turn around and things would vanish, which is somewhat annoying when you are hunting for a specific vehicle and it was there a moment ago.

Cut scenes, by the way, appear to be all rendered in the game, so your character's customized appearance is reflected within them.


There is more to say about the game's graphics than that they are five years old, but sadly the more is mostly that it is a port and shows it.

Two brief points about the audio before moving on. One is that most of the in-game music is delivered by vehicle radios, which can be controlled by the player, to a degree. You can control what station is dialed in for your vehicle, but you do not control nearby vehicles. The radio stations do have a decent collection of tracks. The other point is that during at least some of the voice work, I could hear noise in the background. This is not present during other recordings, such as the music, but makes me a little curious about the conditions of the voice recordings.

  1. Saints Row 2: Introduction
  2. Saints Row 2: Graphics
  3. Saints Row 2: Story
  4. Saints Row 2: Gameplay
  5. Saints Row 2: Additional Screenshots
  6. Saints Row 2: Conclusion
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