Saints Row 2 is a stunning game. I've already completed it having bought it on retail. Unfortunately the retail version forces you onto Steam - extremely happy to report that the Gamersgate version lets you play the game normal-style in complete freedom which is how PC games should always be played. Can't praise this game enough - it's been said it's "the game GTA IV should have been" which although I've never played GTA IV was enough, having played this already, to stop me even bothering with GTA IV.
You start off choosing your character - which is an insane affair - you get to choose the looks, right down to colour of eyes, shape of face etc. That's extensive enough, but you ALSO get to pick things like voice, style of taunt, and even the way he or she walks. I even had him dressed in women's underwear in one option screen. I subsequently decided against this in my final decision.
The controls certainly take a bit of getting used to - but once you do, they're almost second nature. I would recommend sticking with the defaults as they've thought them through rather well.
The level of freedom is immense. There are tons of well structured missions to complete, which involve doing missions against 3 rival gangs, until you've wiped them all out. There are special side missions, which count towards your progress through the game as a percentage (and what's interesting to note is that having completed every single gang mission, and had the end credits roll, I'm still not "100%" through the game) or you can just run around causing mass mayhem, which is incredibly stress relieving. You can buy up petrol stations, record shops and such. You can buy up houses for your gang. You can randomly recruit gang members if you see any wandering about the streets, or dismiss them at will (or execute them if you're savage like me). You can take control of just about any vehicle, be it land or air or water based. The 'boss' missions - i.e. the rival gang leaders can be really savage - or you could get lucky on them. Just be prepared for a serious, heart-pumping, adrenylin-filled challenge.
The graphics are beautiful - though you will need a meaty, modern system to run the game at full settings without any judder - though these days it isn't all that expensive to hit the mark (just don't buy a retail PC). There are occasionaly glitches like the soft shadows of the trees turning blocky but that really doesn't detract from the overall look.
The whole island feels alive - there are so many people wandering around, driving around. You end up down the beach and there's people sunbathing on the sand. You go over to a building site and there's people hammering away and lazing about inside. These areas aren't just put there to break up the scenery like in some games. They're actually functioning.
Minute attention to detail, hours and hours of mindless fun and destruction, and truly an adult game for adults, Saints Row 2 is epic, and I for one absolutely cannot wait for the next Saints Row game.
100% totally recommend.