Playing time: 18 hours
Saints Row is an identity crisis distilled into software. While Volition's playful third-person mayhem-sim charm is still alive and well in places, the 2022 iteration of the fan-favorite series struggles to figure out exactly what it's supposed to be. However, if you think you can perform the necessary mental gymnastics, you may be able to get a lot out of a visit to Las Vegas. Sorry – Holy Unharmed.
For those new here, Saints Row is an open-world GTA third-person shooter where you play as an aspiring gang leader who's tired of being misunderstood in his role as a nine-to-five tenant. -policeman. The game attempts to marry over-the-top, wacky criminal shenanigans with a story based on Zellennials in distress.
Seven years have passed since the last installment in the series and a lot has changed since then. The gig economy has become more endemic, we are in the midst of a pandemic, and politics has somehow become even more caustic and vicious. Saints Row tries to drag the whimsical and chaotic formula of its predecessors to this new decade.
And this attempt to have your cake and eat it too really reveals the limitations of Saints Row. Sometimes the more serious moments of the narrative add a nice layer of spice to the adventure, rooting the antics of the Saints in a relatable world. But this contrast often creates both dissonance and intrigue.
- Saints Row 2022 (XBox Series X) at Best Buy for €34.99 (opens in a new tab)
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Saints Row price and release date
- What is? An open world third-person shooter where you play as an up-and-coming gang leader
- Release Date: August 23, 2022
- Price: € 59.99 / € 54.99 / AU € 99.95
- What can I play? PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and PC, through the Epic Games Store.
angel with a shotgun
(Image credit: future)
You spend most of your time in Saints Row shooting someone. You show up, commit a crime, and then shoot some people out of necessity. This is the basic game loop. At its best, it's glorious. At worst, it's tedious and overworked. What you get out of Saints Row will largely depend on your appreciation of this process.
The basic assault rifle looks like a fire hose crossed with your little brother's fully automatic electric Nerf gun.
Don't come to Saints Row expecting a precision crafted shooting experience. It's not Battlefield 2042 or Arma. Fortunately, Saints Row doesn't mind that it's not Battlefield. He revels in this fact. The basic assault rifle looks like a fire hose crossed with your little brother's fully automatic electric Nerf gun. It's like aiming a harpoon while trapped inside a giant vat of molasses. It's a game-enhancing feature.
In fact, the combat on Saints Row is not a carefully organized military contest. It's more of an exercise in exhibitionism. Despite the title's most substantiated claims, all your actions in combat amount to gloating. Fight long enough and your knockdown meter fills up. Approach an unlucky enemy wrestler, right-click, and your boss will deftly execute an unlimited takedown worthy of WWE's juiciest action movies or WWE's most explosive cage fights. they are luxurious
To add icing to the Layer Cake, we have the new Flow system, a welcome addition to the Saints Row combat experience. As you progress through the game, you will unlock abilities that you can use during combat with destructive effects. These range from the mundane, like grenades and smoke bombs, to animated punches and vampiric health-stealing buffs. These additional tools in your arsenal can be activated by spending flow points, which you acquire by dealing damage or killing lives. While they don't drastically change the status quo of the third-person shooter, they do add another avenue through which the more over-the-top elements of Saints Row could manifest.
The trifecta of over-the-top abilities, takedowns, and shooting makes you feel at least a little bit superhuman. It rarely feels like a fair fight. In fact, taking down hordes of enemies in Saints Row often feels gratuitous. It's basically a ridiculous power fantasy. I love him.
(Image credit: Deep Silver)
Unfortunately, the latest Volition doesn't always remember this crucial aspect of Saints Row's appeal. This negligence is no more clearly demonstrated than in the initial mission.
Here, our hero spends his first day with Marshall, an extremely morally questionable private military group. In contrast to the much happier atmosphere that pervades much of the rest of the title, the opening scene comes across as an almost parodic depiction of the worst aspects of forgettable and heartwarming late-2000s FPS games. and I don't stray into the parody you seem to want. It's strange that Volition refrains from stepping on the gas during this first segment.
This is in stark contrast to later missions, most of which are simple but enjoyable games through the town of Santo Ileso. One mission in particular, an homage to Fortnite and the Elden Ring, locks the player up on a spooky island and requires them to collect weapons that fall from the sky. Victory is only assured when you are the last person standing. It's hard to believe that the tutorial mission and this melodramatic Battle Royale pastiche end up in the same game. It is in this duality that we see the fundamental struggle taking place in almost every aspect of Saints Row.
Saints and sinners
(Image credit: future)
Still, there's an arrogant charm at the heart of Saints Row that no amount of indecision can completely undo. At its best, the dialogue shines.
During the early stages of the game, you and your cohort of downtrodden Zellenial friends Eli, Neenah, and Kevin attempt to break the economic stagnation with the judicious application of free crime. Most of the time, these characters are very funny. They offer lively and well-polished talk. Unfortunately, they're not free from the awkward tonal ambiguity that plagues the game, and on the more personal missions with each character, whiplash abounds.
Tragically, Saints Row often seems ashamed of itself.
Tragically, Saints Row is often ashamed of itself. Although the game flirts with a refreshingly skeptical line on the excesses of capitalism, it rarely commits to a political statement for long. The main characters, all workers in the struggling gig economy, will often deliver exactly the kind of scathing, critical one-liners that suit their circumstances. Yet the next moment they will scoff at the idealism of others who share their skepticism. The lack of consistency is sometimes disconcerting. Why should a cast of characters who can steal cars and hold up pawn shops on a whim feel tied to such mundane concerns as "rent" and "job security"?
(Image credit: future)
In a mission, you help a character take revenge for the destruction of his car, a gift from his beloved terminally ill mother. Their face-to-face discussion of a delicate and painful family situation is immediately followed by a helicopter battle. On their own, these two elements are compelling, albeit in profoundly different ways. Together they form a strange cocktail.
In its most serious moments, Saints Row asks you to pretend you're not some superhuman killing machine in a world full of hapless NPCs. While this attempt at sleight of hand is sometimes successful, the game never fully escapes the strain it puts on the main story.
be your own boss
(Image credit: future)
Saints Row wants to remind you that you are the figurehead of an up-and-coming street gang.
In addition to playing an important role in the lives of your friends, you will also find yourself directing the financial prospects of the gang through the Venture system. This system allows you to build shady businesses and income streams throughout the city. Each company then offers a series of side quests that improve the financial performance of the company and the passive income of the Saints as a whole. These Vice City-style hustle and bustle do not disappoint. From insurance scams to a real LARP fortress, each criminal enterprise has an endearing character.
When it comes to the Boss himself, Saints Row doesn't skimp on other character-building opportunities, literally. The character creator is sumptuous in its offer, bordering on free. Removing the gender slider from previous titles, Boss Factory allows you to individually customize every facet of your physical appearance and gender presentation, allowing you to represent a fuller spectrum of human beings. The game also provides a degree of representation for people with disabilities. For example, you can create a boss with prosthetics. It's refreshing to watch and emblematic of the ever-present generosity of Saints Row.
Most vehicles are also fully customizable, allowing you to mix and match paint jobs, additional equipment, and even hood ornaments if you wish. A wide range of different attractions are on offer as you make your way through the bustling open world of Saints Row. Muscle cars, convertibles, and even jet motorcycles are readily available to those looking for them. Fans of the series will be pleased to know that the radio is back too, allowing you to roll down the road accompanied by anything from Bach to KRS-One. Fans of custom open-world experiences probably won't be disappointed.
is not no rest for the wicked
(Image credit: future)
Saints Row is ultimately an ambitious but flawed title. The game dips your feet in two contrasting hues, sometimes to your advantage, but often to your detriment. However, when it decides to take advantage of the brash melodrama of its predecessors at the expense of an adjacent grittier GTA 5 experience, it shines.
Some Saints Row skins will have to stand the test of time before they can be rated. Bugs are infrequent but present, and while none have broken the game yet, some have required the occasional mission restart. While it seems likely that Volition will address them in time, I'd be lying if I said they didn't impact gameplay. On the other hand, the cooperative campaign system, while promising, will require stress tests. before anyone could speak of his robustness or kindness.
If you play Saints Row, I guarantee something will make you laugh. It could be a joke from one of the central players who understands you. Or maybe you revel in the childlike joy that only comes from hitting a car full of cops with a dump truck. Although he sometimes seems ashamed of his own excesses, Volition contains enough to amuse even the most stoic of us. You'll have to decide for yourself if it's worth wearing a neck brace after all the tonal enhancement.
Saints Row 2022: price comparison