Review by PokkeChampion

"Welcome to the 3rd Street Saints"

Everyone has heard of GTA. This game published by Rockstar was a grand success and is known worldwide. Then, after a few years the game GTA: San Andreas was released, Volition Inc. and THQ released a game called Saints Row. Judging by the cover of the game, it looks like a typical first person game. A whole new surprise awaits the player who is about to try the game.

At first glance, I was totally blown away by the whole thing. The graphics, the gameplay, Saints Row is no other than an extremely fun sandbox game. It is sort of like Volition Inc. took a sample of GTA while changing the city to become nicer and the story to become much more interesting. It is not dull like most sandbox games and also the atmosphere of the city is very refreshening and realistic. Now it's time to see what the game's true capability is all about.

Story: 10/10
The story of this game is truly amazing and it also reminds you of street life. You play as a created character that is casually roaming the city named Stillwater when suddenly you went in the middle of a gang war. Although you survived, one standing gang member was about to shoot you when suddenly an unknown assailant shot him first. As you regained your control, two people helped you up and brought you to a church. Those two were leaders of the gang named The 3rd Street Saints, one of the four gangs in the city of Stillwater. From this point, the story became really interesting. You took on a new life as a member of Saints Row and also acquired a new goal: To rid the city of the other three gangs and claim Stillwater for the Saints.

There are many action and violence in the story of Saints Row, but conversations are also plenty. They aren't boring and some conversations even have some humor. The characters are very lively and all the leaders of the Saints (including you) participate in the story. The game's story has four parts: one story about the battle for each of the three rival gangs (that makes it three parts), and one story after you claim Stillwater. Volition Inc. must have really known the life in a gang if they can make the story this good. Just remember not to follow anything in the story.

The life in Stillwater is in a gangster's way, so don't expect the story to be like Godfather or Mafia. It is truly the story of a gang's life so it may not be suitable for younger players because of the huge amount of violence and explicit language. There are of course, cops, but they do not participate in the story of the game.

Gameplay: 10/10
The gameplay of this game is what makes Saints Row a game not to be missed. You can virtually do anything you want! Kill cops, blow up cars, do drive-bys, rob a store, you name it. There are tons of cars in this game so driving is not a question. You can modify cars to give them a better look or make them faster by adding nitro. The cops in this game are also a fun to battle while the other gang members poses a challenge. This game has wanted levels, an essential part of any sandbox games. Unlike GTA, which has six stages of wanted levels, Saints Row only has five, so don't expect marines and tanks to be on your tail.

You create your own character in Saints Row. Finally, something different! You can choose the race of your character, which the game provides with many different skin colors. The race of your character actually affects the voice acting of him in this game! You can choose if you want your character to become a lumbering fat man or a muscle guy. You can choose many other things to; try them out yourself! Just remember that your character has to be male. Too bad for all of you who wants a female character.

The missions in this game are fun to do besides free - loading. Supported by the good story, the missions of Saints Row can get players to understand the other gangs much better. You can even go to the theatres spread around Stillwater to replay any mission you want! Note that you can only replay missions that you have completed already. Also, many missions are unique in Saints Row. They may involve protecting a certain place, rescuing someone, or even taking down a gang base alone! If the story missions do not satisfy you enough, there are plenty of side missions around Stillwater, like racing, hit contracts, and lots more. The difficulty of the missions varies on how far you are in the story or the which gang you are taking on.

There are three rival gangs in Saints Row; Los Carnales, Vice King, and Westside Rollers. It doesn't take long to eventually find out which gang is the easiest and which gang is the hardest. Even gangs have their own wanted level. If you get to pushy on one gang, the members of the gang will hunt you down. It's always best to not bully a certain gang repeatedly unless you're looking for trouble. Like any other real life hoodlums, the gangs in Saints Row will fight back if a cop attacks them. Also, like any real life gang, the members of the Saints will not hesitate to attack you if you threaten or harm them. Also, did you know some gang members in Saints Row are female? It's true, and even more surprising, female gang members tend to carry better weapons than the male gangsters! A really good thing about this game is that armed people (yes, even cops and enemy gang members) will automatically switch to any better weapon they find lying on the ground. No kidding.

There are many guns in this game, so there is no reason to be bored until you tried them all. There are eight weapon types in Saints Row: Fist (of course), melee weapons, handguns, submachine guns, shotguns, assault rifles, projectiles, and anti-tank weapons. You can only carry one weapon of each type, so don't even think of carrying two types of shotguns or even two types of melee weapons. This game isn't extremely realistic, so don't worry if you are wielding a weapon in front of a cop. Guns can be acquired by two ways: You can scavenge it from the dead or you can buy it from weapon shops. Also remember that you cannot buy melee weapons in Saints Row.

No sandbox games are complete without cars. Why did I say "cars" and not "vehicles? That's because the huge downside of Saints Row is that the game contains no motorbikes, bicycles, boats, helicopters, and planes. There might be only cars, but there are tons of designs for the cars so new players may try them all first. Cars can be modified with the auto shops located throughout Stillwater. You can also purchase cars from dealers around Stillwater. Although the cars sold there are really nice, you might only be able to buy them late in the game because of their expensive costs. Your gang members also drive purple cars (because the Saints emblem is purple) throughout the street. They will become better depending on your progress in the game.

Respect; an essential aspect of every gangster. Without respect, no gang members will ever follow or help you, thus making you a much more vulnerable target. Saints Row offer players a variety of ways to gain respect. Your clothing, your progress in the game,
doing side missions, all these things can increase your respect. If you want more respect, always choose anything related to purple (especially clothing) when you have the chance. The game displays circles at the left of your HUD. This is the amount of gang members that you can recruit to help you. More gang members will take commands from you when you have enough respect. Note that the maximum amount of gang members you can recruit in the game is three.

Robbing is truly a unique aspect of Saints Row. You can rob every local shop in Stillwater. Robbing can be done in two ways. First, you can aim your crosshair reticule at the shopkeeper, showing that you mean business. The shopkeeper will lead you to the safe and open it for you. There are two things you must be aware on doing this. You must not your crosshair off the shopkeeper or he/she will trigger the alarm and you must kill the shopkeeper after he/she opens the safe or he/she will trigger the alarm. The other way is to just burst inside the shop and open the safe by yourself, although this will certainly trigger the alarm. An alarm in the shop will give you wanted levels, so you may want to do it the right way to make a clean getaway possible. Realistic, huh? Expensive shops like a jewelry store may contain a security guard or two, just like real life.

All in all, the gameplay in this game is truly astounding. It can be easily said as one of the best sandbox game of all time.

Graphics: 10/10
Next to GTA 4, Saints Row boast the best graphics a sandbox game can offer. The faces and features are shown very, very clearly. When a character talks, you can see their mouth moving exactly to the rhythm of their speeches. The surroundings and the city of Stillwater itself is designed very beautifully. There were complaints from a few people that Stillwater is a dull city, but it's actually very nice. Car graphics and designs are good also in Saints Row.

Character designs are really excellent. As well as their good mouth movements, the movements of their body parts are also flexible, unlike the stiff movements of many other sandbox games. The clothing of the main characters in Saints Row also have unique clothing. It's true that the gang members in the city may look like clones, but Saints Row have plenty of gang designs to keep the Saints looking different from each other. Each gang members are different races, thus giving a big plus to design of the characters.

Car designs are also not left behind. Even the crummy ones are actually nice, like an everyday family car. The best cars, which can only be acquired if you have enough cash, are really, really, amazing. You can bet that many good cars in this game resembles Ferraris and McLarens in real life. Volition Inc. really did put a lot of effort in making amazing cars for Saints Row. None of them look similar than the other. Cars also realistically crumple a bit when they get hit with extreme impact. Car explosions are extremely realistic looking in this game. Try to blow up one and see for yourself!

Weapon designs are a really nice part in Saints Row. This game holds the coolest looking AK-47 I have ever seen in any sandbox game. Dropped weapons are highlighted blue so players may spot them quickly and pick them up in the middle of a gunfight. Melee weapons are also nice in this game.

Overall, the graphics are extremely nice. To put it in another way, the best of any sandbox game if not for GTA 4.

Sound: 10/10
The sounds in Saints Row can be easily be described as one the best from the history of sandbox games. The voice acting is really good and so as the gun sounds and car sounds. A big plus to this game is also dedicated to the character's mouth movements to the voices. The engine sounds from the cars are also realistic. The sounds of an exploding car or barrel gives a nice touch to the sounds of Saints Row.

Every game needs a voice acting, or else it will be completely dull. In Saints Row, the people of Stillwater really sounds different from each other so you don't have to worry about people sounding like clones. The voices of the main characters are what appeal me the most. Also, there are no mix-up voices in the game, so there are no men sounding like women and no women sounding like men. The tones of the people are also plenty in Saints Row. Your character has limited voice acting though. He only talks in very few cutscenes and when gets hurt.

Have you ever hear the sounds of a Ferrari engine? Then you may want to know that some of the best cars in Saints Row sound like that when accelerating. Realistic engine sounds are a good part of this game. If your car holds a nitro attachment, try to trigger it. It is like the sound of a jet in real life. When a car explodes, you can hear the realism inside it. Try accelerating a car really fast. You can hear how cool the engine sounds.

The sounds of weapons are music in Saints Row. They sound by far the coolest in any sandbox game. The coolest weapon sound of all comes from the M4 (known as AR-40 in this game). They sound like the rifles used in the World Wars. The sound of the melee weapons is also nice, especially the catchy WHOOSH! sound when you swing a bat.

Throughout my time playing the game, Saints Row delivers sounds which is both realistic and nice. They fit perfectly well into this game.

Replayabilty: 10/10:
Perfect. With many side missions, robbing, and having fun with your gang, Saints Row can offer any player 200+ hours of gameplay (even I'm still playing now!). What else can I say? Saints Row was born to give players a useful reason to spend their time.

Overall: 10/10
My conclusion? Saints Row is truly an amazing game for anyone in this world. Here's my message: If you happen to see any kind of sandbox games and Saints Row, you don't even have to think twice for making a choice which one to buy

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 07/21/08

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

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