"Gang theft auto? (simmilar to GTA but much better)"

I first saw Saints Row (SR) on it's release day. There were a bunch of rowdy and unruly teenagers pushing over each over to get a few final copies, and one guy even tried to bribe the Electronics boutique manager to sell him a copy for $100. When I inquired the manager explained that the game saints row was like a Grand theft auto game (GTA) for the 360. I was never overly impressed with GTA series being that it got overly repetitive with the “go here, get this from point A to point B style game play.”

Honestly I Initially wasn't really that impressed and I passed on SR for a while, one day I saw a used copy at my local EB for $45 and on a whim of boredom I picked it up (just to be having it). To my delight SR happens to be eons deeper than its Rockstar made counter part, and puts a new twist on a genre that is becoming over saturated and flooded with clones.

Game Play:
I try not to give away perfect scores, and try to nitpick every little detail in a category but SR is one of the few games that deserves an above perfect rating in the game play section. This game involves you working as a member of the “Saints” gang and ultimately you must gain control of a city which is currently run by several other gangs. The more of the city you own the more money and respect you earn, the more helpers and followers you'll have at your disposal and the better the items and weapons your helpers can get.

Game play is mainly mission based, and involves having your character to do various tasks. An example of some of these are stealing things, kill/beat up someone, transport someone/thing from point A to B, destroy/wreck something and quite a few more activities like that. In some cases you not only had to take over rival gangs' turf by invading a stronghold but you also had to defend your territories from being over run by them.

Defense happens when every so often you'll have an “Area contested” scenario, that's where a rival gang will muscle in on your turf and you must drive them out by killing the placed area leaders. The invasion happens after you have enough respect and do enough scenarios you'll earn the right to take over a rival strong hold, if you win your gang takes over that part of the city map and you also gain money for controlling that area.

Ultimately this game plays out like a hybrid of the Grand theft auto games (for general game play), the dynasty warriors games (for the city control and planning aspect), and Freedom fighters (for the combat and squad action aspects). In my opinion THO married these different game aspects just right to give us a new take on what's becoming a redundant genre.
10 of 10

Story:
After you make your custom-made character the game starts with you visiting some friends in your old neighbor hood. You accidently get caught in the middle of a three way gang turf war between the Canales, the Kings and the Rollers. You almost Get wasted for being a witness in the wrong place at the wrong time, but the saint's leader (Julius) shows up and saves you from your would be murderer and invites you to be part of the gang.

The main purpose of Saints row is to take over the entire city from the rival gangs. Interestingly enough they didn't go with a conventional one track plot, instead making several different branching arcs with each gang. Most of the rival gang's storylines involves a member or two of your gang who are your sidemen in your endeavors; in some cases you must protect them as they complete a task, some they'll act as a mere helper, and on others they'll be intel and recon.

The storys between the different gangs are all separate of each other and kind of linear with a few plot twists and a little dramatic effect added. Ultimately they're well written, very involving (made me hate Benjamin King) *LOL* and above all the dialogues and scripts are entertaining.
8.5 of 10

Graphics:
The visuals overall for Saints row are quite nice for a first gen 360 game, then you may ask why am I rating it at an average level? Well; some parts are stellar and look astounding, and others look like recycled last generation visuals that were thrown together and dressed up to look 360-ish.

A good example was one cinematic in the beginning were Julius is talking to your crew and I thought they made him look like a “Mr. Potato head”, there was absolutely no detail in the guys face and I remember my first thought was “this is a 360 game?” Fortunately that's not the case throughout the entire game, only one or two lazy spots and the majority of the cut scenes generally look good.

Another (minor) gripe in the visual area they could have done a much better job with the lip syncing Quite a few times you see the guys talk but it didn't really look like it was them or the visual expressions just didn't fit (a-la Saturday morning kung fu flicks).

At points SR is a little glitchy (like GTA); quite a few times you'll see some horrendous popup. Cars will disappear but you'll be seated and gliding in a missing car, and other little nuances that are in similar games of this sorts con list. Since every comparison is made to grand theft auto I try not to compare/mention it as much as possible but visually you do notice how far ahead this is to it's PS2 counterpart.
7 of 10

Audio:
OH MY GOD The sound quality of this game is leaps and bounds above anything else that has ever come out (period). I do have one complaint in the audio department and unfortunately it's a GTA comparison; the radio. I felt they tried to much to be like the GTA games in the radio department. While the music was good they didn't have the level of humor and depth that you got from some of the GTA commercials. In the end it came off a little flat and seems as if SR tries too hard but doesn't deliver.

Aside from that everything sounds excellent; there is a large variety of music, the weapons sound great, some of the dialogs from around the city are funny, realistic and set the ambiance. From back ground sounds to explosions everything is in it's rightful place and sounds great.

Although the voice acting is visually brought down by the bad lip syncing (*mentioned above*), it still should get some kind of voice acting award. THQ pulled no stops with getting all of these excellent actors to do the voice overs, they may not be “the most in demand” people in Hollywood but there's some real A-list talent featured in saints row. The roster includes: Michel Rapaport, Michael Clarke Duncan, Freddy Rodriguez, Tia Carrere, Mila Kunis, Keith David and Mr Kung fu himself David “Kill Bill” Caradine. None of the less known actors are overshadowed by the stars and in the end they all compliment each other well.

Listening to the delivery and interactions is actually made believable even if in only an entertainment and movie sense. It becomes about as involving as a game's ever going to be (A-La metal gear solid's dialogue).
9.5 of 10


Controls
Controls are fairly simple, not exactly user friendly in the beginning but fairly simple to master after about 10 - 20 minutes or so of play. The pause/sub menu is very easy to use and has a very user friendly interface. The weapons and item screen on the other hand could use some drastic improvement and should be overhauled if there's a sequel. It gets really annoying and kind of frustrating to die while cycling options for weapons and items. All too many times you will get gunned down running/moving for cover, trying to eat a cheese burger to replenish health, while holding down the “B” button and pressing on the digital control direction to get the right item(ACROBATICALLY ANNOYING )
7 of 10

(Extras)
All the activities and mini games give this title way too many options in the extras department. Combine that with a slew of downloadable content including extra clothes, weapons, cars, multi player boards and videos can only be spelled “WIN”.
10 of 10

Fun factor
Oh hell yes This is only one guy's opinion but I personally hate the GTA games, they get repetitive and boring very quickly. While they are both similar what sets this apart is all the variety of the mini games, the competitive multi player and the only game were you can purposely throw yourself in front of a moving bus to collect the insurance money who wouldn't like that? (LOL)
9 of 10

Re-playability
This is the type of game you can take for a few spins around the block and it'll still remain fresh. With mini games that range from racing, escorting, drug trafficking, being a hit man, causing damage, kidnaping people, insurance fraud, taking over a city and holding your territory you have so many different things to do. Combine all that with being able to take SR online and compete in several ranked and unranked Multi player modes this game will have a long time coming before it gets retired.
9 of 10

Overall
A lot of critics will say Saints Row is a rip off or copy of grand theft auto, on the face it's true and there are some glaring parallels but below the surface SR is a living breathing evolving creature. In it's own right has some similarities but outgrows and surpasses GTA because of the sheer depth of the game. Comparing the two is like saying Jean Claude Van Dame *cough*hack actor*cough* ripped off Bruce Lee because they were both actors with martial arts skill and made movies.

Saints Row is a welcome surprise in an era were originality is lacking and most game makers are only out for a fast buck, it seams like the creators took their time to add in-depth games play, some really good scripts and hired some decent actors to bring the script to life.

While it is by no means “perfect' it's basically a fun game with a really good story, nice delivery and a bonus multi player. One word of advice: this game is not for everyone, the F bomb is dropped all too frequently throughout this game along with a few of it's other relatives so the M rating is a definite must on this game.

In the end if you'd like a game like scar face (the movie) with added gang violence, a hint of strategy and some different mini games this is worth picking up, if you're not sure this may still be worth a rental.
9 of 10


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 02/02/07


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