Review by TeddyBear
"A Very Nice Sanbox Game."
Many other sandbox games trying to cash in on GTA and remove its hold on the Sandbox genre have failed. Volition is taking a risk to try and challenge Rockstar's GTA series.
Saints Row's city, Stillwater, is full of gangsters. You start off as a nameless person joining one of the smaller gangs in Stillwater, the 3rd Street Saints. After joining the Saints, the leader, Julius, wants the other gangs out of their territory. Upon cleaning up the Row, Julius wants to take out all the competing gang members and leaders in Stillwater and rid them of the city. Your player will be helping out other fellow gang members to help take over Los Cranales, Westside Rollerz, and Vice Kings territory to lead the Saints in complete control of Stillwater.
Characters in this game are creative, and voice acted very well. Every character involved in the story has their own type of personality and look. While some are forgettable, others will be instant favorites of yours.
One area where Saints Row falls is in the performance of it. The constant glitches and freeze times ruin the experience and will frustrate you, especially after not saving for some time or when you close to almost finishing that difficult mission. Vehicles disappear when they were just in front of you, and the game slows down sometimes.
The activites you can do besides the main storyline missions will keep you busy for sometime. The activities are plenty (too much of them to list them here and explain them) and most of them are very exciting, while others get frustrating as you try the harder levels of the activity. These activities throw something in for you to do if you want to take a break from completing a gang storyline.
You will want to play some of the activities more than once. Not only for money and gang respect (your respect is used to unlock the next mission for a gang), but because they are fun. There will be at least one activity in Saints Row that would be a favorite for you. Not only do they unlock achievements, but unlockables (such new clothing or cars) as well.
When you do any mission or activity in this game, you will probably need some homies to help you out. At the start of the game you can only recruit one homie and only have one or two special homies to call up, but as you gain more respect you will be able to recruit more of them and get a few more special ones. While they are nice to have, it is sometimes annoying, like when they fire at an enemy gang or police when you didn't want to waste ammo or fight.
The customization in this game is amazing. It is almost as deep as The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. You can change the shape and color of your player's face to look like anyone you can think of. It's very user-friendly and does not intimidate you, which is good for the casual gamer. The clothes variation is this game is great. You can equip your character with bandannas, over shirts, pants, different shoes, many different hairstyles, etc. The choices are vast.
Customization can also be said for vehicles. While motorcycles, bikes, and airplanes are absent, there are more than 60 types of vehicles that you can customize. Vehicles can be changed with different colors, you can change the different types of hoods, spoilers, rims, add nitrous or hydraulics, etc. You can spend hours finding all the vehicles you can find and customize them just so you can look through them from your garage, which allows you to store over 100 vehicles. The varieties of vehicles that pedestrians drive are plenty, too. The cars they drive will range from an old, rusty, beaten up truck, to that flashy low-rider with stylish rims.
The game handles very well. The rag doll physics in the game are perfect. Cars take damage in the correct places, when running people over they fly, and when you repeatedly kick a body it will move.
The controls in this game are very simple and easy to learn. When using guns there is no auto-lock on control, so you have to use skill to kill someone if they are moving around. It sometimes is a problem, though, like when you need to just move the analog stick slightly to kill an enemy gang member when he is firing at you. But with enough practice, you'll be able to pull of headshots easily while moving around. The controls when you are driving are also simple, but I think it is too hard to drive while firing your gun. It gets annoying when you want to shoot a car chasing you that's behind you while still driving, which becomes a problem on some missions.
In melee combat, you character will do combos, such as punching and then doing an uppercut, but when you use melee you will attack in the direction you are facing, no the way the camera does. Although I didn't find this a problem, I know some other people find it hard to get used to.
The sound is solid. The Radio Stations in Saints Row has a wide variety of different types from Hip Hop to Rock to Classical. Each genre of music has its own radio station, and the talk shows on it are hilarious. It is entertaining, but there is not much content they say so you will soon be hearing conversations you already heard.
The soundtrack is mostly based off unknown people and a few mainstreams. While it is nice to hear music from unknown artists, you will probably want more mainstream music, as it is probably more enjoyable. The soundtracks are not only short, but the radio stations seem to replay a few of the songs while the rest are not even played at all.
Fortunately, the game provides you with an audio player, which you can listen to while you are playing, not just in a car. You can purchase the music you want from the music stores around Stillwater. You can also play music from your saved play lists from the dashboard.
The voice acting in the game is great. Volition hired Hollywood actors that actually fit the parts. The character lines are filled with well-executed humor. It does a good job of not pushing it too far. While it isn't original, the dialogue can be hilarious. A problem with the game is with the pedestrians. They all sound alike, and they repeat many of their lines. The pedestrian's lines are also humorous, though.
This game is very entertaining, but the game is surprisingly short for a sandbox game. If there were more activities and missions for you to do to make this game last longer, while fixing the bugs, this would would have been much better. There are plenty more things Volition could add to the sequel to make it surpass even GTA. This has great potential for a sequel, and GTA fans will enjoy this until the next one.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/22/07
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