Saints Row 2 in co-op mode is loads of fun and experiences that are very over the top in their presentation. A few things here and there bring the enjoyment of co-op play down by at least a tad. The beauty of co-op in this game is that you can drop in and out of it whenever you want. The host of the partnership pulls the guest into their game world. You come in with the same amount of money and all the guns, ammo and weapons that you had in your world. Once in the game you can do whatever you want. You can join forces against the rival gangs or you can both go off on your own and do whatever you want. The world is basically your oyster, much like it is on the single player side.
My experience with co-op was with Psykoboy2 (Scott Benton) from Colony of Gamers and radio host of In-Game Chat. I joined his game and it was obvious as soon as I came into his world that he was farther than I was with icons I had not seen on my map. First thing we did was hop into a car and start driving around. I pulled into the driver’s seat and we were met with the first problem in co-op. Scott could choose a waypoint or I could, but only the waypoint maker could see their GPS line on the mini-map. So, Scott set the waypoint and I started driving with him giving me directions of where to go. I noted to him that this felt like the blind leading the deaf with us flying all over and missing turns. Yes, in hindsight I could have figured out what waypoint he had chosen and done so myself, but the crazy driving was part of the fun. From that point on we decided unless it was a hairy situation where we need to get the heck out we’d have Scott drive everywhere.
Next up was one of the game's whacky activities, Septic Avenger. Basically what this activity entails is you taking control of a sewage truck and shooting liquid crap onto targets. This is one of the activities added in this sequel and it is very over the top, but also very fun to play since the sewage truck seems pretty tough. This was Scott’s first experience with it, while I had already run through a couple on my own. We quickly found out that only Scott could control the stopping of the sewage truck with the left trigger, but we could both fire crap at the targets, making things that much easier to reach the dollar amounts. We had a ton of fun shooting crap all over the targets and spraying police cars full of it. Once we finished a level of it, we decided to find something else to occupy our time with.
We then found a Hitman activity and started that up. In Hitman you get a list of people to take out. There is a dossier on each and generally broad information on where they are located and how to get them out in the open. Only Scott could see the dossiers and actual location of the targets once close to them on the mini-map. Only thing I had to go on was Scott telling me the target was close and the fact that one of the red dots popping up everywhere was the target. First stop was to find a place called “On Track” in a section of Stilwater. We found the section after a little searching, but had no idea what “On Track” meant. I figured maybe it meant a rail station or a nightclub, but we had a lot of question marks on the map in this section of the city and drove around to each one. Lucky us the very last question mark we came to was what we were looking for. We walked into the nightclub and the dossier said that the target would only appear when the dance floor was full. Well, we found the dance floor after I jumped over a rail figuring it was a short drop on the other side (it wasn’t!), but things weren’t busy at all there. So, we searched out the guy and killed him. Scott went in guns blazing, I went in with my Samurai sword to slice and dice. After the hit was complete, our star rating went up and we had to hightail it out of there.
We then decided to go for the next hit which was a guy in a Weinermobile, who just happened to be right next to us once we went out on the street, so we killed him and Scott jumped in the Weinermobile. However, there wasn’t a second seat so I couldn’t join him. Then we went and fooled around for a bit until around 6AM and called the taxi cab company to get our next hit to us and took out that guy. The next hit was for a porn star that was also a policeman - at least that’s the jest I got from Scott reading the dossier - and this is where things got a bit crazy. It took forever to find the guy and our star rating was going up with cops and gang members trying to take us out. Eventually Scott blurted out, “there he is!” and somehow he got away in the gunfire. Bored with that we decided to do another activity. We wanted to basejump, but neither of us had been to that activity as of yet. So, we found another one called Insurance Fraud, possibly one of the most over the top activities in the game.
In Insurance Fraud you are told to go to a section of the city and initiate dives in front of cars with the trigger buttons in order to get hurt and make money. You get extra money and fill up adrenaline if you do your diving in a special zone marked on the map. The first few times we really didn’t get the hang of it and only made a little money, but then everything seemed to gel together. We went through three levels of this in order to get an unlockable that you get after every third level in an activity. At one point we went to the airport and the adrenaline meter was filled which allows you to defy gravity once hit so you can do multiple hits by moving yourself while in the air. Think of this mini-game like the old Crash sections of the Burnout games. I took a dive toward an oncoming truck and flew backwards in the air, hit the top of the interstate road and kept flying the same way. I ended up halfway across the map probably from Scott and there was no way I was getting back to the area, but at least I racked up tens of thousands of dollars of damage. Those types of experiences just make your jaw drop because I literally flew a long way and was across the body of water by the time I landed. I know at one point Scott made over $200,000 in one adrenaline filled combo, but I was not present because somehow my guy dove out well before the marker where Scott was. I got there just as we were hitting the $400,000 mark we needed.
Those are just some of the activities in the game, there are 17 in all. You need to finish activities in order to receive enough respect in order to play through the story missions. That means you have to rely on doing activities, but at least they are fun or you can find one that is fun. There is a lot of death, destruction and out of this world experiences ready for you in Stilwater.
With that, Scott and I called it a night. It was an extremely fun few hours of playing with someone I know. I would certainly recommend doing it again and there are plenty of other activities as well as the missions to go through if you like. There was some lag in a few spots, but nothing that ruined the experience. It was kind of weird seeing the cutscenes with your player on the screen and Scott said his player was on his screen. For me the actual scene was faded in black with a message up talking about waiting for host and unfortunately Scott could not skip over the scene, so we had to sit through them.
This game would probably be a lot of fun if you played the whole mission structure through on co-op, although I am sure it would take several game sessions to do so. The waypoint thing is a bit frustrating as is the inability to see things like dossiers on the Hitman activity, but given how much fun you and a friend can have I think it can be forgiven. This is a fantastic 2-player co-op game and anyone interested in the sandbox genre should give this game a look for both co-op and single player goodness.