Despite the predictably provocative strap line, we're not going to bang on too much about the ridiculous number of similarities between Saints Row and Grand Theft Auto (and it is astonishing). Rather than get steamed up at the death of creativity and end up ranting incredulously "and they even stole this bit!", we're in the 'talent borrows, genius steals' camp today. We're also interested in how we managed to glean so much enjoyment from such dead-eyed creative bankruptcy. In some senses it's a terrible game that you want to take an AK47 to, yet there you are, 25 hours into it, 3AM in the morning, still enjoying it.
Whether you're sick to death of the glorification of gangster theme, bored of GTA-style games or you just plain hate what the game stands for, the thing that it's hard to escape how well-crafted it is. And how enjoyable it is. It's like a McDonald's burger; you know you shouldn't like it, but man it tastes so good. The most puzzling thing is - unlike a BigMac - it's a curiously moreish experience that keeps you coming back for more.
Saints Row is, quite simply, a 'product' in the most calculated sense. THQ and Volition sat down a couple of years back and identified not only what was so popular about GTA, but what people hated about it. So, what we've ended up with is something that's not just specifically designed to appeal to the mammoth GTA audience, but makes an effort to fix all manner of irritations that have bugged fans for years. It effortlessly ticks all the right boxes. It's playable, fun, and forgiving, yet also remembers to be challenging, diverse, absorbing and epic. It's also very very slick, and polished to the nth degree. The hardest thing about the game is getting over your own dogged preconceptions and slightly irrational prejudices.