Saints Row Reader Review
Alright, im gonna cut to the chase, YES saints row is a GTA clone, YES it is heavily inspired by rockstar's masterpiece, YES the game would probably not even exist if there was no GTA? So, the burning question, is it still worth getting? YES, it definitely is. To say that Saints Row is 'inspired' by GTA is a gross understatement. The game is practically copied from GTA, albeit with enough differences to make Saints Row an enjoyable experience in itself.
You start off as your avergae joe, stuck in the midst of gangwar crossfire, and just before getting capped, are saved by the leader of the the Saints gang (yawwnn...), and guess what, are called for getting recruited by them. Now starts the pain staking process of rising through the ranks and taking over the city, how original. The cheesy and old storyline is however saved by some good voice acting, and some great next-gen graphics, with all movies being in-game, and you can see your custom created mute character (did I mention he never speaks throughout the game, except once) in every cutscene.
The game offers a very high level of customisation to make your own character. Make him in your own shadow, or the wildest pimp to walk gods green earth, the choice is entirely yours. Nothing more amusing to see an asian dude, with a huge afro and long thin beard! Unfortunately (or fortunately?), your characters appearance has little to do with the way the game unfolds.
The games works on the same principle as GTA. You have to do side missions and earn respect in order to be able to do the main story mission. This works like a double edged sword. It forces the players to make use of the many fun mini-games scattered across the city, some of which just simply get betetr and better, but the most of them just get tedious and boring. The best tactic is to do as many side missions in one go as you can, and earn enough respect to undertake quite a few story missions.
The driving and on foot mechanics work like a charm, and in all respects is very similar to GTA. You can steal any car/truck you see, with some hilarious animations of kicking out drivers, which ranges from banging the drivers head on the steering wheel(with added horn effects) to shooting them point blank in the head. The AI also shout some hilarious obsenities when you steal their car. The shooting mechanics work nicely, and is a free targeting system which turns out to be quite satisfying. Despite the lack of a lock on feature, combat is easy and very fun. While driving, player is given full freedom to shoot anywhere, making for some intense car chase missions.
The more respect you earn, the more 'homies' you can recruit to help you out during missions. Infact, it is highly recommended you take at least some help before fighting off overwhelming enemy gang members. The AI is nicely scripted, and actually help you out instead of getting stuck in circles. These intense battles are helped a great deal with a self recovery health system. Just dont take damage for 10 seconds, and your health will start regenerating.
This is where the game excels. There are enough fun side missions to keep you entertained for hours. These range from normal escort missions, to driving a prostitute in your back car as she entertains high profile client while dodging papparazi cars. Probably one of the best ones uses the Havoc 3.0 engines and the Ragdoll physics and encourages you to put yourself in harms way to take most damage for insurance fraud. Jump in front of cars and see your limp body getting thrown off miles in the air. Go inside a shop, point your gun at the shop assistant and you start a hold up, but beware, he may fight back!
Spectacular, specially in HD. You can see every ripple in your cars bodywork, evry last dent. The characters are nicely animated, but the game suffers from some serious framerate issues when there is a lot going on screen. The explosions are FANTASTIC, and the first time you blow up a car with an RPG, your eyes will pop out of your sockets!! The cars are nicely animated as well, and a cool feature is you can hear the blaring music as the car goes by, and the closer you get to the car, the louder it gets. You can also purchase music from various stores and add them to your mp3 player, an awesome feature. You also get a cell phone, and can dial random numbers scattered all over the city which makes for some really amusing conversations.
I didnt get a chance to explore the XBOX LIVE play yet, Ill update this section when I do.
On the surface, Saints Row look like GTA, with better graphics. But to get the true flavour of the game, you need to scratch the surface and look under the hood. Saints Row picks up GTA, and adds a whole new host of features which make this game an excellent addition to the 360's armoury. There is simply too much in the game to list in this review, but I can safely say its worth the money. It certainly has enough pump in it to last till the next installment of GTA.
8 / 10