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THQ is hoping to differentiate Saints Row 2 from other Grand Theft Auto clones. By that we mean it's not so much a clone of Rockstar's crime epic, but rather what might be born unto the world if it had a lapse in judgment and accidentally knocked up the Jerry Springer Show (which turned out to be half-Jackass, according to DNA results).
Our first impressions bore this out, and we were left permanently convinced of the fact once porn starlet Terra Patrick and certifiable loon, Gary Busey, were brought on to, er, entice folks to play the game. We were enticed to check out its multiplayer features, which, as opposed to the in-your-face presentation of the "main" game, seemed to do the best job of really seeming substantively different.
Playing off a perceived demographic-wide case of ADD among gamers, Saints Row 2's main multiplayer draw, Strongarm, combines elements of control points (tagging), racing, deathmatch, and other match types into one mega-mode. Akin to an iTunes playlist on shuffle, the mode is constantly swapping out modes and rules, with the overall goal being for each team to amass as much cash as possible.
In one example, typical street racing in an open-world environment is skewered by the fact that team members who aren't racing can take up arms and attempt to destroy rivals as they pass. In many ways, the Strongarm play types reminded us of things we might have put together ourselves in GTA IV multiplayer – only now there's some quantitative payoff for goofing off.
The nudges – some more subtle than others – to do silly stuff even extend into the pre-match lobby, where players can run around in-world, talking smack and shooting each other. Before, y'know, the rest of the smack talking and shooting gets underway.
If it's a war between transvestite pimps and clowns in hotdog suits you want, that's what you'll get. But until we see something truly remarkable out of the game as a whole, you'll have to really want it – otherwise this Row might not be up your alley.