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Saints Row – The Funny GTA-Clone is Back, this Time as a Reboot

REVIEW - The first Saints Row, released in 2006 for the first Xbox, was a simple GTA-clone that, lacking too much sense of style, simply tried to ape the GTA craze at its peak at the time. Volition then realised that with enough humour and some really crazy, utterly unrealistic gameplay (and UFOs) that wasn’t typical of GTAs, they could create their own unique style and put a couple of blockbuster sequels on the table. Saints Row is now back as a reboot, slightly more realistic (no UFOs this time), but with a ‘cool’ storyline adapted to the casual style…
To call Saints Row a reboot is a bit of a euphemism: while the UFOs are indeed gone, and the story is perhaps a bit more cohesive in places, we’re more like the early 2000s in terms of gameplay, AI, action, graphics, physics and overall feel. If you’re not expecting Uncharted or GTA from this game, it’s fun, but in 2022, it’s all pretty dull.

Saints Row

Gameplay - 5.8
Graphics - 5.2
Story - 5.6
Music/Audio - 5.4
Ambience - 6.2

5.6

AVERAGE

To call Saints Row a reboot is a bit of a euphemism: while the UFOs are indeed gone, and the story is perhaps a bit more cohesive in places, we’re more like the early 2000s in terms of gameplay, AI, action, graphics, physics and overall feel. If you’re not expecting Uncharted or GTA from this game, it’s fun, but in 2022, it’s all pretty dull.

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REVIEW – The first Saints Row, released in 2006 for the first Xbox, was a simple GTA-clone that, lacking too much sense of style, simply tried to ape the GTA craze at its peak at the time. Volition then realised that with enough humour and some really crazy, utterly unrealistic gameplay (and UFOs) that wasn’t typical of GTAs, they could create their own unique style and put a couple of blockbuster sequels on the table. Saints Row is now back as a reboot, slightly more realistic (no UFOs this time), but with a ‘cool’ storyline adapted to the casual style of ‘today’s youth’. At least that was the intention…

 

 

Steve Buscemi has that always funny meme of a washed-up, well over 50 private detective trying to infiltrate young people by dressing up in some kind of shabby, “cool, youthful” outfit, with a baseball cap on backwards and a skateboard on his back, approaching them with “How do you do, fellow kids?” (Making a mockery of himself, of course.) That’s where I got this hilarious meme, as the developers of Saints Row were sweating it out to adapt to the needs of today’s “young people” with this deliberately “edgy” reboot, with a brand new “fun and loose” story and cast – while the gameplay hasn’t changed much. But let’s look at the details…

 

 

“Realism” and Saints Row…

 

When the first 2006 Saints Row original story launched, you were just a nobody, a simple criminal who joined a gang to kill people and make money. The series has changed significantly since then because if you look at the latest Saints Row games, you’re now fighting aliens in space with superpowers. So “over the top” has this series become wholly divorced from reality that it was understandable for Volition to take a step back from sci-fi in a more down-to-earth reboot.

Well, there’s nothing really “down to earth” about lying on top of a car going 69 miles per hour and firing an assault rifle at the cops who forget about you five minutes later, but at least there are no UFOs here. And the narrative is relatively sensible, even if the developers won’t get a BAFTA for the story.

Saints Row starts with four protagonists, including the playable character, working for various gangs in the fictional town of Santo Ileso. They join for the same reason anyone else would join: money. These characters simply have to pay their bills. The noname hero we control starts working for Marshall Defense Industries. And your companions are Neenah (mechanic and driver – Los Panteros), Kevin (DJ and robbery enforcer – Idols), and Eli (designer – a business entrepreneur with an MBA). At first, they’re a bit irritating and overly “modern” youngsters, but later they become likeable – true, they won’t be remembered alongside Mike, Trevor and Franklin from GTA V.

I don’t want to SPOILER, but the point is that our heroes eventually leave their own groups and band together to form their own gang – all out of sheer necessity for survival. The main story actually starts from here, and the words “mediocre level achieved” and “poor man’s Tarantino” come to mind, also recalling those as mentioned earlier “, how do you do fellow kids?” meme or “let’s reach the youth of today” mindset from the guy, who wrote the game’s story.

 

 

Poor man’s GTA and Uncharted 4

 

Of course, we never liked Saints Row for its story, but somehow this mediocrity is the main characteristic of the game in every other respect. Let’s start with the gameplay, which hasn’t changed much apart from the lack of UFOs. You still get to participate in crazy, chaotic missions with mind-boggling action, massive firefights, explosions and zero realism. Unfortunately, the latter is compounded by the highly clunky controls and aiming, which is particularly noticeable in the PlayStation 5 version we tested. Somehow, it feels like this game was developed more for PC because the somewhat “floaty” control of our hero, the aiming and aiming, and the general feeling of action, in general, is more uncomfortable with a gamepad than with the mouse+keyboard combo, which the previews have described in a much more positive light.

Despite the clunky controls on the console, I rarely bogged down on the difficulty level set to medium, but that was also because the enemy’s AI as such is non-existent. The enemy, made up of various wild gangs, rarely takes cover. They just stand there en masse like an idiot and shoot at us like there’s no tomorrow, some of them trying to end our lives with various small arms. The fact that they are wounded and die quickly does not bother them in the slightest.

In addition to the traditional TPS action, I also encountered a car chasing truck jumping scene, which seemed to copy a similar action sequence from Uncharted 4 – but it’s a lame copy in that respect too. The graphics, physics, quality firefighting and fistfights are all lacking here, so I’m thinking of this part of the game as a ‘copycat’.

So when it comes to the action part, the whole thing has an early 2000s action game feel that it really does remind me of the first Xbox Saints Row. Not in a very positive way…

 

 

How do you do, fellow PS3 gamers?

 

Leaving aside the 60 FPS and 4K for now, Saints Row’s graphics are also very much in the vein of the PS3-Xbox 360 of two generations ago. This is true for the environment, characters and vehicle design. The textures are crude, and the Las Vegas-like environment means that the buildings are flashy, but the lack of ray tracing or at least any decent reflection makes them look rather bland, as does the vegetation. The same is true of the characters: the low polygon count of the faces, the lack of detail in the facial features, the shadows cast by the likenesses and their shadows, or the typical anti-aliasing flaws are reminiscent of classic PS3 levels – and weaker ones at that, because this PS5 game is nowhere near the level of the first PS3 Last of Us.

The only thing weaker than the outdated graphics is the physics: the character you control or the various vehicles seem to slide on the ground, on soap, without any gravity. This is particularly noticeable when we jump with our hero, or cars tip over, crash into each other, etc. Maybe in the days of the old GTAs or the first Saints Row, this level of physics was okayish, but in 2022 it’s unacceptable.

 

 

You might not be disappointed if you’re not expecting too much

 

To call Saints Row a reboot is a bit of a euphemism: while the UFOs are indeed gone, and the story is perhaps a bit more cohesive in places, we’re more like the early 2000s in terms of gameplay, AI, action, graphics, physics and overall feel. If you’re not expecting Uncharted or GTA from this game, it’s fun, but in 2022, it’s all pretty dull.

-BadSector-

Pro:

+ Happy, non-stop action for those who want it
+ Occasionally funny story and more interesting characters
+ Development of your character

Contra:

– Gameplay is a mix of cheap GTA and Uncharted 4 copy-paste
– Outdated graphics and physics
– Smelling like sweat, he strives to find the “young people of today”


Publisher: THQ

Developer: Volition

Style: GTA clone TPS action

Release: August 23, 2022.

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