The carefree, gangster-blasting world of Saint's Row 2 is a place of guns, gangbangers, girls and a distinct lack of guilt about the scores of murders that are being notched into the barrel of your 12-guage. Slightly behind the curve, my long overdue trip to the Row has been shelved on countless occasions, but taking up the gauntlet to review the first piece of Downloadable Content pie, I jacked a car, packed some heat and stocked my respect bar. Lots.
The great appeal of Saint's is that it is a very flexible game, agreeable to the palettes of hard core and casual gamer alike. The original never tried to be something it wasn't; it took the sandbox mould, ripped off the sides, fitted some wheels, some seats and plonked an acid-tripping hippie in front of the driving wheel - it truly went wild. Saint's Row 2 continued this off the wall trend through its zany, over the top characters and comedic resurfacing of its oft-beaten path.
Having experienced the joys that the retail game had to offer, eyes opened and mind freed to the endless possibility of Stilwater, I was dismally perplexed when I realised how little the additional content amounted to. Offering only three new missions, some new purchasable clothing and some vehicles, this content pack feels all a bit Pound-Saver Menu for my liking, and considering its price point at 800MSP - the same price as the glorious arcade hit, Peggle - it really needed to do something special to validate the cost.
The missions are not really anything spectacular, adding a new faction to engage in your crime war against, the company behind the changes in Stilwater, Ultor. The very shortlived episode on offer has you, The Boss teamed up with adult-film star, Tera Patrick, who is casting aside the whips and the chains to sneak through the back door into her role as an ex-Ultor Microbiologist. While a seemingly innocuous and irrelevant choice of celebrity cameo, the inclusion of said pornstar at least gave Volition the opportunity for some euphemism-pumped one-liners and suggestive dialogue, a chance they didn't need telling twice about!
Apart from the presence of the titular (and titillating) latex-laden maiden, the trio of missions are pretty ordinary and if played amidst the playthrough of the retail game, players will barely notice that it is extra content that they are playing, while this is not necessarily a bad thing as most of the missions in the retail game were fun and exciting, for me at least, Downloadable Content has to offer something really noteworthy to encourage the loosening of the purse strings and where the missions aren't bad, they aren't worth the price tag slapped on them.
In addition to the supplementary missions, there are extra clothes and vehicles available. Given that neither of these additions will give a past player any reason to play through the story again, the downloadable features seem to be very much geared towards a first-time player or someone who is playing through the story again already. If you were looking to purchase the downloadable content merely as a reason to dust off the case and take the disk for a spin, then you'd be thoroughly disappointed, the hour-long (at a VERY generous push) extension to the story just wouldn't justify the time spent skimming through your game library.
Adding a bit more meat to the rather slight package are the additional multiplayer maps, but as the game is without a strong loyal fanbase - one that plays Saints and only Saints - these multiplayer maps will pose nothing more than a passing fancy to the majority of potential buyers. As an ensemble, the various components of this miniscule expansion still don't amount to very much. The missions were fun enough while they lasted, so if you really like Saints Row 2 then you may want to give this a look. If you're preparing to embark upon your criminal career fresh from the Stilwater prison infirmary, then I can definitely recommend this pack, as for one new to the game the additional vehicles will definitely enhance the experience. Don't go expecting there to be a whole catalogue of things to do though, as the inventory of items added to the itinerary would barely fill an A5 flyer.
Sam has been unable to peel his bloodshot eyes and RSI-ridden wrists from the world of gaming since he was first introduced to it, like all good junkies, by his Grandad. From those early days of MegaDrive sweetness, bashing through the throngs of enemies on Shining Force II, his love of all things games has extended upwards and outwards onto a variety of platforms. You can either believe that spiel, or get the real scoop and know that his spaceship actually crashed here some years ago and he is currently incognito as a games writer for Console Monster.