"A total rip off of GTA, only it actually improves core gameplay and beats GTA"

When I first heard of this game, I thought of it the same way I think of all GTA clones.... this must be total CRAP. But then I started looking into the game, and reading some articles about it, and it turned out that the game actually had potential. Because of this, I decided to purchase it. That was the best game decision I have EVER made for my Xbox 360. First, let me say that this game is an EXACT clone of GTA. The controls are the same, the interface is the same, EVERYTHING is just a carbon copy from GTA. But in addition, this game adds some awesome features, and fixes almost all of GTA's problems.

Graphics: 9/10
GTA wasn't known for awesome graphics, however this game not only beats GTA, but it beats almost every other Xbox 360 game out there. Shadowing is in real time with great resolution (you can even see the shadow of the spinners on your car spinning), the cars reflect, the car damage models are amazingly detailed, and the character models rock. The game pulls off a steady framerate. Everything in the graphics department is perfect except some minor screen tearing, however it is barley noticeable.

Gameplay: 9/10
This game picks up on every GTA feature (good or bad), and makes it ROCK. They got rid of taxi and police missions, and added a TON of awesome side activities such as insurance fraud, where you must get hit by passing cars to earn a set amount of money, and you receive bonuses if there are witnesses. There are also about 10 other activities, all which are extremely fun and addicting. You will be able to complete this game rather quickly compared to GTA: SAs' missions, however I prefer these missions quite a bit, they are a great mix of driving, killing, sneaking, just like GTA's but better. And the aiming interface is EXCELLENT. It is great fun to try and get all the achievements (many of them are 10 or 20 points each, so there are TONS of them to get). Another problem solved from GTA is the money problem. In this game, money actialy means something... and you don't lose it when you die (only a few hundred dollars). Its hard to come by, and all guns you use must be purchased (or taken off people you kill)

Sound: 7/10
Of course this game stole the idea radio from GTA, and I must say, while all the songs will be songs you have never heard before, many of them are pretty good, and might end up being something you'd consider downloading later. Also, the talk radio is hilarious (especially for those that are into politics), and the commercials are even more funny than GTA's. My only complaint in the sound department is that the game really overuses the F word. It's an M rated game, so they are free to throw it around however they choose, but there is a point where it stops being funny and starts getting disgusting. This game is leaning towards the disgusting point.

Multiplayer: 8/10
I will applaud that this game even tried to do multiplayer. Its the first of this genre to do so. And for the most part it is pretty solid. But don't be expecting like I was, which was for thousands of people to able to go into the city and cause total mayhem with each other, because that isn't in there. Instead, there are a bunch of semi-fun games in a bunch of terribly rendered stadiums. Don't get me wrong, this multiplayer is very fun and will be addicting for a long while, but I think it could have been done better. The optimatch system rocks though, it is much like Halo 2's matchmaking system, choosing your teammates and opponents for you, based upon the level.

So adding up all my scores, it turns out to be 33/40, which reduces to 8.25 when converted. I'd say overall impression you will get from this game is around an 8. Although it is huge, and hugely fun, it is not quite perfect. It still has a FEW of GTA's flaws, and the nasty humor and constant f-bombs will leave some disgusted. This game is really pushing it for an M rated game. As for the partial nudity that is listed on the box, thats not a big deal, just some poorly rendered strippers walking around with stars over their parts, nothing to hide from your parents. I'd highly recommend that you purchase this game instead of rent... the multiplayer will keep you going for a long time after you beat the campaign. And even if you decide not to get this game, you should deeply cherish it, because trust me, Rockstar is going to learn a LOT from this game, and we will probably see a lot of new features added to GTA4 which is releasing Spring 2008.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 08/31/06, Updated 03/17/08

Game Release: Saints Row (US, 08/29/06)

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