If you're one of the lucky few who have access to the Internet, there are a number of online options available in Saints Row 2.
There is the option of a jump-in/jump-out online co-op game, where you can join an online friend, play alongside them for a bit and then go back to offline single play while still keeping any rewards you earnt while in co-op mode. This ability to hop into and out of co-op mode is very useful, and helps get through those slightly trickier sections of the game.
If you yearn for some player-on-player action yo, then there's a whole bunch of competitive modes to keep you happy.
The brawl games are basic deathmatch modes set in a confined area such as a shopping mall. There's nothing special about these games, and they are the type frequented by the typical foul-mouthed teenagers who insist on calling everyone "noob".
The Strong Arm mode, however, is a much better online prospect. It is a team-based game where players face off against each other in a bid to generate the most cash in a variety of short games drawn from the single-player game's activities. You have a couple of minutes to achieve the objective before you move onto the next event.
In a clever twist, if you or one of your team-mates manages to spray your team's tag onto a wall, you get a bonus for your team, such as improved health.
It's disappointing that there aren't more online modes, and although the co-op mode goes some way towards making up for it, it's a shame not to see the return of Saints Row favourites like Big Ass Chains or Bling My Ride.
In the end though, it is so difficult not to make obvious comparisons with GTA. The original Saints Row succeeded in part because it was released on a console that was GTA-free until only recently. Saints Row 2 comes hot on the heels of GTA IV, so the latter is still fresh in our minds. It's inevitable that you'll be thinking about Nico as you play Saints Row 2.
The thing is though, they really are two different games. Where GTA tries to be all gritty and serious, Saints Row 2 opts for the more frivolous approach. GTA forces you to keep your girlfriend satisfied, Saints Row 2 lets you go and play with the boys.
I'm not saying that Saints Row 2 is better than GTA – it clearly isn't, but then neither is it much worse. Saints Row 2 is playing second fiddle, but it's obviously got its sights firmly fixed on the lead violinist role.
Taken in isolation, Saints Row 2 is an enjoyable game, with some solid gameplay elements and an involving storyline. There are a few problems with the game, but they're annoying rather than earth-shattering. The online co-op mode is innovative, although it's a shame that there's no split-screen co-op. Multiplayer is marred by the lack of many decent competitive modes, but Strong Arm is a blast to play.
So, does crime pay?
Hell, yeah. Saints Row 2 has enough attitude that it doesn't care about the comparisons. It's got the balls to shine on its own merit.
And if you don't agree, it's got the guns to pop a cap in yo' ass.