“Saints Row is a perfectly fine open-world game. Just don’t expect any surprises, as the reboot lacks much character.”
Competent open-world design
Dated mission design
Where do you are taking a collection as soon as it jumps the shark repeatedly? This is a query the creators of TV reveals like Happy Days, The Simpsons, and The Office have requested themselves after years of fixed escalation and is a query sport developer Volition handled whereas crafting the brand new Saints Row. The Saints Row collection grew to become more and more ridiculous over time till Saints Row IV capped issues off with the addition of superpowers and a DLC set in Hell. While Volition wanted to discover a option to prime itself as soon as once more with a reboot that includes a brand new story, forged, and metropolis, it didn’t. Instead, it settled for making Saints Row completely satisfactory.
Despite innovating in small methods, Saints Row is a protected open-world sport. While that’s completely tremendous for these searching for one other sandbox journey to sink time into, its quaintness feels antithetical to the collection’ wacky fame. Saints Row is thought for being loud, bombastic, and unconventional. So why am I largely caught doing tedious motion and open-world guidelines aims? Volition needed to get in contact with the collection’ roots, however after you’ve jumped the shark so many instances and the trade has moved on, this reserved strategy makes Saints Row really feel like an antiquity.
Since the collection started, Saints Row video games have been crime-focused open-world motion video games with a comedic edge. Players customise their very own character and discover a big metropolis as they drive round and get in gunfights with enemies throughout bombastic set piece after bombastic set piece. Saints Row is not any totally different. Linear story missions see gamers forming the Saints and leaving their mark by asserting dominance over all the different factions in Santo Ileso.
Between missions, gamers can discover the open world, finishing Side Hustles for money, establishing Criminal Ventures to develop the Saints’ prison empire, and inflicting some mayhem for civilians in between. While Santo Ileso is expansive and colourful, it doesn’t really feel very energetic, with essentially the most attention-grabbing interplay at all times occurring in predetermined aspect missions or aims that can mark off a bullet level in your goal guidelines. It’s a system you’ve seen earlier than, and Saints Row executes it seamlessly and supplies the form of sandbox enjoyable this style of sport is thought for.
If that description sounds flavorless, that’s as a result of it’s. While Saints Row isn’t a poorly made or super-glitchy open-world sport, it additionally doesn’t do something that particular. Although meaning followers can have an excellent time dwelling out their prison goals, it makes the expertise really feel like an underwhelming one subsequent to the wacky lineage of its predecessors.
Not ridiculous sufficient
The Saints Row collection stands out as a result of it was usually keen to be much more irreverent than Grand Theft Auto. The third sport begins with a beloved character being killed earlier than a freefall into Steelport as Kanye West blares within the background. Meanwhile, the fourth sport sees gamers develop into the president earlier than they’re trapped in an alien simulation and should cease them with superpowers.
Once you’ve performed Saints Row for an hour or two, nothing the sport does will shock you once more.
In rebooting the collection, Volition reeled that “ridiculousness” consider. Saints Row is a extra grounded expertise following 4 buddies as they create the Saints gang from scratch in Santo Ileso, a brand new metropolis based mostly on Las Vegas. It’s alleged to really feel like a contemporary begin for the collection, however winds up being a cookie-cutter open-world romp that fails to dwell as much as its predecessors despite the fact that it not often does something outright dangerous.
Adventuring round Saints Row’s open-world feels straight out of the early 2010s as gamers have a listing of scattered aspect aims to finish between mainline, linear story missions. This system labored for the previous Saints Row video games and outcomes on this new sport being a satisfactory journey for these searching for a generic open-world expertise. It simply by no means engaged me on a deeper stage due to its dated really feel and lack of selection. It falls again on generic shootouts and antiquated and irritating set items like turret sections, instant-fail stealth, and escort missions.
Too a lot repetition
Even in comparison with the likes of Grand Theft Auto V, Saints Row rapidly will get repetitive. Almost each Mission, Side Hustle, or Criminal Venture boils all the way down to both driving a automobile from level A to level B, mowing down hordes of enemies with weapons and particular perks gained by leveling up, or a combination of the 2. Once you’ve performed Saints Row for an hour or two, nothing the sport does will shock you once more. The solely time gameplay actually adjustments up is with the Insurance Fraud minigame the place gamers toss themselves in entrance of automobiles for cash, however even that isn’t an authentic concept.
Since Saints Row IV launched, video games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Sable, and Elden Ring redefined what open-world video games may very well be. They have expansive worlds that continuously shock the participant and encourage them to discover and join with the expertise. Saints Row doesn’t take notes from these video games and even get as odd as Saints Row: The Third and Saints Row IV did, so getting via the sport is a reasonably scientific expertise even in the event you’ll by no means outright hate taking part in it.
The builders even appear self-aware on this difficulty. One mission follows the Saints as they fight totally different team-building actions, however every exercise retains devolving right into a shootout. It’s performed for satirical laughs, however its emblematic of the sport’s very actual lack of goal selection. Crafting that mission ought to’ve been a purple flag that the sport wanted to get extra inventive, however as an alternative serves as an in-game condemnation of Saints Row‘s dated construction.
One place the place Saints Row does stand out is in its automobile and character customization, which you’ll already try within the free-to-download Boss Factory. There are many distinctive choices to craft your playable character, whether or not or not it’s with physique shapes, garments they put on, or textures. Players may design themselves asymmetrically, cementing themselves as a style chief on this space.
The character customization can also be the place Saints Row will get the zaniest. Some of my favourite moments taking part in the sport have been once I found I may play as characters like Squidward, Shaggy, The Rock, and The Joker after which spent a while inflicting mayhem round Santo Ileso as them. If Volition had offered gamers extra instruments to create wacky eventualities whereas truly taking part in the sport, then Saints Row may need been an exponentially higher expertise.
Instead, gamers should expertise the linear narrative Saints Row follows. This is a whole reboot of the collection, that includes a forged of brand-new characters who’re all struggling millennials that kind the gang after getting kicked out of the organizations that run Santo Ileso. Outside of the participant character, who’s as trigger-happy and quippy as ever, the Saints Crew consists of the investment-minded Eli, automotive mechanic and driver Neenah, and the well-connected and eternally shirtless Kevin.
“Saints Row is not an ambitious game in any way.”
Neenah and Kevin are the actual standouts of this new group as they’ve essentially the most attention-grabbing backstories and loyalty missions. Over time, I got here to love this new group of Saints, even when their character designs are extra muted. None of them really feel fairly as iconic as Johnny Gat, Shaundi, or Kinze Kensington but, however it’s price remembering that these characters didn’t develop into iconic in a single day. Fans had time to fall in love with them over time; hopefully, this new forged will get the identical alternative. I’d additionally like to see this new forged work together with the previous one. Maybe some multiverse shenanigans are so as?
The story of Saints Row is about being the grasp of your individual destiny and the way having buddies and letting others in is necessary, even in the event you’re a flawed particular person. While that’s not a really profound message and the plot is predictable, you don’t come to Saints Row video games for an emotional The Last of Us-like story. The new characters are endearing, and the writing is stuffed with lighthearted humor that by no means crosses the road to develop into annoying (see: Borderlands 3). As a consequence, Saints Row’s story is an fulfilling backdrop to formulaic open-world gameplay that it’s largely disconnected from.
Weird is best than boring
From story to gameplay, Saints Row is on no account dangerous, however it’s additionally nothing grand. It’s only a challenge that lacks any actual ambition. It appears like an open-world sport that would’ve come out in 2014 and pushes the boundaries of the style lower than the 2 video games that preceded it. Personally, I’d relatively a sport be tremendous bizarre or tremendous horrible relatively than not shock me in any approach.
I perceive why Volition needed to try to get again in contact with the extra grounded feeling of the primary two video games within the collection, however as a result of nothing takes the place of what was eliminated, beating Saints Row left me feeling unfulfilled even when I by no means hated my time with it. This is the one Saints Row sport that by no means actually jumps the shark indirectly, so it feels milquetoast, scientific, and nothing greater than completely satisfactory all through. Those are adjectives that really feel alien for a collection with such a definite voice.
Saints Row doesn’t do quite a bit terribly improper outdoors of some irritating aims. It additionally doesn’t stand out as significantly robust in any class apart from character customization. After eight years and years of innovation within the open-world style, the tame reboot feels caught previously, even when it’s an simply digestible and enjoyable open-world journey.
Is there a greater various?
You’ve most likely already performed Grand Theft Auto V, however I’d additionally suggest the Mafia collection and Watch Dogs collection for related open-world experiences. Saints Row 2, Saints Row: The Third Remastered, and Saints Row IV: Re-Elected are all available via PlayStation Plus Premium, so you may at all times replay these.
How lengthy will it final?
Clearing the story mode ought to take round 10 to 12 hours, however if you wish to full each Criminal Venture, Side Hustle, and different aims round Santo Ileso, this sport may simply final 20 hours.
Should you purchase it?
Yes. Saints Row is a tremendous sport in the event you’re searching for a by-the-numbers open-world journey to tide you over as the autumn launch season ramps up. Don’t sweat it if you find yourself lacking this sport, although.
Digital Trends reviewed Saints Row on Xbox One.