Review by Arschrammen
"The best in the genre"
The makers of Saints Row have seen room for vast improvement in the free-roaming/gangster genre and have capitalised on these opportunities to make what is, in my opinion, the greatest game in this genre next to Scarface.
Saints Row has quite a rich story line that always feels relevant; it doesn't just feel like you're doing a heap of random chores for no good reason, as can be the feeling in this style of game. It's actually quite cinematic and has a wealth of interesting and entertaining characters and a few twists and turns.
This is also a game with a great sense of humour. It's like a parody of the childishness of gang behaviour and also society in general. For this reason I find it so hilarious and ironic playing it online against gangs who play like its real life.
At a glance, Saints Row doesn't appear exactly innovative. At least not in the general running-around-shooting-gangsters kind of way. But where other games in this genre fail are the add-on sub-games. The side missions in Saints Row both 1) have a purpose 2) are actually really fun, some of them more so than the actual missions. My personal favourites are the pimp missions where you have to go and kill pimps and bring back the hookers to a brothel. The drug-trafficking missions were also great fun. In these you ride as passenger to a drug dealer and protect him from gangs and police chasing you down.
The missions themselves are fun but not heaps varied and if you've played extensively in this genre it is unlikely you'll find a mission where you feel you haven't done it before. Still, they are executed very well and follow a story line so don't feel ultimately pointless like in other games of this genre.
My favourite part of Saints Row is the city. Its a perfect size - not small, but, more importantly, not too big! - and there is always a lot going on: random gang violence, police arresting people, maniac drivers and just general chaos. It feels like a real, living, breathing city!
One of the few let-downs is that it's quite glitchy. The game often freezes for no apparent reason and needs to be reset. The online gameplay is also disappointing, but to no fault of the developers; the modes themselves are really good but the people you'll most likely come up against are 14 year old pasty white boys who think they're massive black men. I've never copped so much abuse in an online game before the game even starts. It's a shame that the majority of online Saints Row players are giving this game a bad name.
Overall, this is a very pretty game considering all that is going on around you at once. Generally all the textures and effects are amazing. The CG movies are also quite good but the characters have Muppet-like mouths - the kind of thing we've been seeing in CG movies for a long time. The detail that has gone into the vehicles is amazing. Your car becomes riddled with bullets, panels fall off or get beaten in, windows smashed. When cars explode the explosion effects are among the best I've seen. And not only that, but bits of the car go flying all over the place. Very satisfying.
To be honest it feels like the developers of Saints Row have made a deliberate attempt to differ drastically from other games in this genre at the expense of comfortable, intuitive controls that take a long time to get used to. Even when you do get used to them, they still feel quite awkward. Having said that, the method of selecting weapons is very cool though and makes for fast and easy weapon switching.
Overall, the sound is not too bad. The car accidents and explosions are particularly meaty and satisfying. The quality of the voice acting is also exceptional. However, unfortunately, besides some really funny commercials the radio is not even worth listening to. No matter what you're into, the music selection is really average.
There is really a lot to do and explore in this city with lots of missions and activities to complete. And now that Saints Row is available at a reduced price it makes for a very valuable and affordable game.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 08/20/07
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