A little over a year ago, a Grand Theft Auto ripoff entitled Saints Row hit the Xbox 360 shelves of game shops everywhere. 'Twas the perfect example of how ripoffs were not inherently a bad thing. Just as a classic known as Doom spawned a plethora of "Doom-clones," it eventually spawned a new gaming genre known as the first-person shooter. Within the genre, new innovations would also be formed; think Half-Life, F.E.A.R., and 2007's very own BioShock.

The same could be said of Grand Theft Auto, a genre that practically started as the game's title, spawning "ripoffs," some good, some bad. The genre eventually became dubbed as the free-roaming crime genre, of which Saints Row became a member, adding to the mix its own set of tricks -- in this case, a custom character creation system that could seamlessly be played in the storyline.

And now comes Saints Row 2, due for release sometime next year, and may very well dethrone Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto, and let me tell you why.

It is sad that Rockstar Games has taken a more PC (politically correct) route with its latest installment, Grand Theft Auto IV, which would take place in Liberty City, or Rockstar's generic name for New York City. The previous installment for non-portable consoles, San Andreas, allowed freedom to fly jetplanes and Harriers.

These have been removed because it has become a PC issue -- apparently, Rockstar fears someone reenacting 9/11 in the game and posting the recorded footage on YouTube. Now since when would a company as offensive as Rockstar even be concerned with that?

Saints Row's Volition will not fall into the same trap with their sequel, which will feature fully pilotable planes and helicopters...and destructible buildings. But this isn't the most intriguing feature that Saints Row 2 will have to offer. Major adjustments have been made to the character creation system.

In the previous Saints installment, character creation was limited to male gender, who can be white, black, Latino, or Asian. Saints Row 2 has added a female gender to the creator, and even female clothes, which, yes, can be worn by the male gender. Indeed, you will be able to create a cross-dressing freak.

I look forward to Saints Row 2 because I'll finally be able to get a girlfriend, which I will create in my image. 2008 can't come soon enough...and I'm getting lonely.