I’ve often regarded the Saints Row series as San Andreas on crack. Really, I’m not wrong in this, but it’s how THQ and Volition go about their gangsta bromance trilogy that’s really important. All 3 Saints Row games have provided an incredibly fun, over the top experience with each one pushing the boundaries that much more in what makes crime games fun, often becoming self aware and parodying itself.
Really, there’s not a whole lot else I need to say to get you prepped, so let’s just hop right in! Oh, and don’t forget about the embedded youtube links if you want to see trailers and stuff.
When I tried to describe why this game was fun to coworkers, they’d usually dismiss it while saying “no thanks, I already own San Andreas.” While it’s true it’s obviously a San Andreas clone, it’s important to understand what this brings to the table. Firstly, yes, it’s VERY much like San Andreas, but there are some twists. There are three major gangs you can go after in whatever order you’d like and all present interesting challenges.
This becomes a major running theme in the Saints Row games that ultimately leads to more open world and player choice goodness. Basically if you’re having trouble with one chapter of the game, no problem! Work on another gang for a while. Or do any one of the several side missions sprinkled throughout the game. Or even try to hunt down special stuff like tag points and what have you.
Saints Row also features an auto-recover bar, so the game is never too hard, but never feels too easy either. As far as the side activities, they range from escort services to pimping to mayhem challenges and much more. Even if you just decide to walk around and blow shit up, you’ll have plenty to do in Saints Row. Moreover, the game is hilarious and constantly makes fun of itself, which never gets old.
As far as the story, well, the third street saints are suffering pretty badly in the gang world and offer you a position in desperation. You get to completely customize your character and the sheer amount of stuff you can wear, music available, and much more is absolutely ridiculous. Really, there’s not a whole lot else that can be said. Many elements are very similar to San Andreas, just with a lesser RPG focus, but concentrating harder on what a gangsta game should be, so the overall experience is greater than San Andreas if you ask me.
Saints Row 2
So what’s better than San Andreas on crack? Try Saints Row on crack. Yeah, this is the one that shamelessly claimed it was more GTA and GTA. Well, to be fair, SR3 did as well, but we’ll get to that later. Better music, better graphics, better story, bigger laughs, more side missions…I mean, Saints Row 2 really is all about being as ridiculous as possible, but somehow still stays focused in the gangsta perspective.
Now this is crucial because the transition from 2 to 3 is a bit rocky. SR2′s story starts with you exiting a coma in the hospital. Ever since you’ve been in the coma, the saints basically don’t exist anymore, so you bust out of prison and brings the saints back to the streets. Once again, there are three new gangs that have swept in to fill the void while you’ve been gone, each with their own flavor of bastardy to offer.
There isn’t even one thing I can think of that the original Saints Row did better than SR2, which means that THQ and Volition worked very hard to make a refined and amazing product. This rarely happens in the industry anymore and it really is 10 times better than GTA4 in my opinion. By the by, if you’re pissy about the GTA4 comment, no worries. I’ll be posting an article about that shortly.
Saints Row – The Third
This is kind of a “what the hell happened” game. I will say this…I love this game. It doesn’t matter what negative things I throw out there, this game is absolutely amazing and goddamn fun, which is what really matters. The story this time is the saints have completely sold out and cashed in on gangsta “marketing” and as a result have become totally soft.
This is made ever more apparent after an awesome, but failed bank heist that lands the saints in the middle of a hornet’s nest with an international crime syndicate. All kinds of amazing, over the top crazy shit goes down and you have to start all over gaining street cred for the saints in an all new city. There are a couple of things I don’t get about this one and a number of things that are fucking awesome, so I’m just going to jump right into it.
Firstly, your phone allows you access to things like Saintsbook (a Facebook parody of sorts that lets you access assassination missions, challenges, etc.), your map where you can set various GPS targets, missions, and even an extensive upgrade system that allows you to upgrade virtually anything you could possibly think of. You can also completely upgrade your entire arsenal at the weapon store this time around.
Clothing and ink isn’t as impressive this time around, nor is the music. Sure, Kanye’s “Power” track is hot and so are the techno tracks this time around, but almost everything else ranges from okay to meh, which is sad because usually these games fucking rule when it comes to music. The customization system this time around is hilarious, offering all kinds of wacky things to mod on your character…like “sex appeal.”
The side missions this time around are fairly basic and don’t try too much that’s new, which again, is very depressing because the last Saints Row featured all kinds of crazy side missions. What is new in this one is that, once again, you can purchase cribs, but also any available store and several basic properties that earn you shitloads of cash over time, much like the Fable series.
This is especially important because some upgrades are ridiculously overpriced. In fact, because of the upgrade system, respect is no longer about what missions are available; it’s more about what upgrades are available. In many ways, Saints Row 3 is everything I could possibly want from a Saints Row game, and yet it’s also like comparing different entries to themselves in the Fable series.
It’s not a BAD game, but it dismisses so much that made the last one great.
The Saints Row series is well worth checking out if you like GTA style games and especially if you want big laughs and big action. There’s very little that’s done in these games that involve subtlety and they’re all the more fun for it. It is a shame to see the direction the latest one has taken, but honestly, it’s not a bad direction because of the new upgrades system. All in all, all three are worth owning.
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