Review by YamiYaj
"Grand Theft Auto with Good Graphics and Story"
I'm going to put it out there and say that the only reason the Gameplay doesn't receive a 10 is because it isn't innovative. Though not directly copying it's Rockstar counterparts, Saints Row manages to keep virtually the same control scheme, as well as gameplay, with a few improvements, and much needed subtractions. Saints Row takes the Sandbox-style genre of gameplay brought about by the Driver and GTA series and expands upon it by allowing you to customize your player right from the box. You're not restricted by hair, race, or anything else, nor are your clothes or cars. Throw in the fact, that Saints Row has improved upon GTA's Melee controls allowing you to fight without looking like a goof, and fire a much better bevy of weapons(which are available without cheats and not only obtainable through hard missions) and look good doing it as well. Furthermore, you can get just about anywhere within the large city of Stillwater, and be told how to do it via a map trail as well. Another great aspect is the simple fact that the side missions, unlike it's counterpart games, are actually enjoyable and can entertain you for hours, if not days without actually exploring the main story line. Saints Row also succeeds in taking away completely unnecessary and gimmicky aspects of GTA such as flying planes, or needing boats to travel far distances over water in order to get to shore fast. Unfortunately, the lack of bikes of any kind is disappointing. Finally, the feature that I am sure many others have praised that puts Saints Row over the top is the fact that if you fail a mission you're offered the choice to replay it, rather than having to track all the way back through the city to find the starting point again.
Something Grand Theft Auto has, and probably won't have even on the Next-Gen systems is great graphics. Hopefully I am wrong on the latter half of that sentence, but that's my personal sentiment. Anyway, Saints Row is beautiful, and at times, I found myself rubbing my eyes in order to makes sure that what I was watching during cutscenes wasn't a movie. The in game graphics are rendered greatly as well. Real-time shadowing makes an already gorgeous city even more beautiful, and the graphics of the cars, buildings, and just about anything within Stillwater is amazing. The only reasons that the graphics don't receive a ten is because when playing, at times I feel as if I've seen the exact same car graphics in True Crime: Streets of LA for some reason, however, with an obviously smaller car stock and the simple fact that, like GTA, most of the cities residents are all of the same 30 to 50 character models scattered throughout.
Though I am sure that many will disagree with me, I feel as if Grand Theft Auto has never actually had a great story in any incarnations, and I've been playing since the 2D versions. Saints Row, however, feels cinematic any time you're watching a cutscene and I could easily see myself watching this game as a movie within the coming years. Yes, there is the obvious story of trying to cleanse the streets of the other gangs within Stillwater, however, as you play through the game you find that the gangs actually have unique traits about them, such as how they act, attack you, and just live their fictitious lives. Furthermore, the characters that you come across will make you actually feel for them as the game comes close to closure, and unlike the GTA series where you saw the ending coming before you were even a third of the way done with the game, Saints Row involves an ending that leaves you to think about what just happened. Because of the astounding, shocking, and just awwing ending, the story easily gets a 10 out of 10. The only problem is that this game, like many other 360 titles suffers from Xbox 360 Syndrome in which the game feels short. The game in itself is not short, however due to the great story line that will suck you in and keep you playing, the game, or at least the main story, is beatable in 8 days, if not less.
Once again, another perfect aspect of the game, because of the aforementioned cinematic feel. How did you feel when you first recognized Samuel L. Jackson's role in San Andreas? Well take that and add it to the entire primary cast of Saints Row, because each and every one of them has a perfect voice actor, most of which are famous. Though you realize who the voice actor is, your mind is clearly clouded because you see the character talking with a voice that fits them perfectly. However, voice acting isn't the only aspect of Saints Row that will drag you in. The game actually integrates the Custom Soundtrack feature via the old Xbox way, as opposed to the blade system, however, you won't necessarily need it unless you're not into Hip-Hop or Punk Rock. There are great sound effects though, from the quick quips of the residents of Stillwater, to the sound of your car engine breaking down over time. Plain and simple, any game that includes Michael Rappaport, Dante Basco, and Michael Clarke Duncan as voice actors will automatically merit a 10 out of 10 in the sound department.
Nothing great, nothing truly innovative within terms of the actual shooting, however, multiplayer for Saints Row is actually fun, and is something other Sandbox genre games should think about. I came into Online play for a Sandbox game as a skeptic, but I was proven wrong. The ability to integrate the basics of your player from the game online, and then make money via online matches and thus truly customize them with hundreds of different items is a plus and should show other games how to do online customization. Add in the fact that there are interesting, yet somehow trivial gameplay modes that involve protecting pimps, and blinging out rides and you have some new interesting ways to play online multiplayer.
Plain and simple, you have the aforementioned online multiplayer, as well as the sheer multitude of missions that are playable even after you beat the entire game. This leaves you with the ability to then patrol the entire city with everything you have earned, get just about any gun or car, and do any activity. Furthermore, with the in-game movie theaters you can replay any mission from the main story line at any time for free, as well as watch any cut scene. All this allows for unrivaled replayability, from, quite possibly, every other game out, regardless of system or genre.
Overall Score: 10/10
A great game. Simply put, that is how one should describe Saints Row. So what if it's been done before? It hasn't been done this well, this beautifully, and this captivating. While Grand Theft Auto is a great series in it's own that I will always play, Saints Row has managed to steal a little of it's thunder, and hopefully with it, will get Rockstar to churn out an amazing product for the Next-Generation of gaming consoles.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/18/07
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