After nearly a decade without a new Saints Row game, series developer Volition has brought back the Saints in a full-fledged reboot, but in an all-new setting with completely new characters. It’s not the same boss you might remember.
Despite the change, Saints Row still has the same hollow interior and struggles with similar issues as its predecessors. While it’s not sorely lacking in any category, it also doesn’t stand out in a sea of similar games.
Saints Row review: New look, same old issues
Saints Row takes you to the town of Santo Ileso, a Las Vegas replacement located somewhere in the American Southwest. It’s riddled with crime and gangs, all vying for power and control over different parts of the city. Overall, Santo Ileso is by far the most beautiful and interesting location in the Saints Row series to date. Its dynamic and diverse landscape makes it an excellent playground for your criminal activities, which almost always end in large-scale destruction.
The card itself strikes the perfect balance between size and necessity. It’s big enough to be immersive without being too empty. The city and its surroundings are filled with a striking dichotomy: pedestrians going about their daily business and factional gang members openly warring against each other. While there are stretches of barren land and desert areas that look dull and empty, there’s so much more to see in the hubs spread across the map.
The casino districts are teeming with bright lights, mariachi bands and dancers, making Santo Ileso more than just a barren desert. Additionally, Volition does a good job of encouraging exploration with Photo Hunts, which lets you unlock fast travel locations by taking photos of interesting landmarks. There’s also a bunch of secrets spread across the map, such as hidden story collectibles, which tell you about the history of Santo Illeso, junk-diving opportunities that reward you with everything from new clothes to salable trinkets, and drug palette drops, which provide little experience and money.
Overall, this reboot surpasses older entries in the series in terms of visuals, but it pales in comparison to some of the best titles of this console generation – and even the last. GTA 5, which was originally released in 2013, is significantly more detailed and visually appealing than Saints Row.
One of the main issues with Saints Row’s graphics is that the game’s textures show up when you get close to it, even on the highest graphics settings. The cookie-cutter character and vehicle models also make it hard to feel fully immersed. While Saints Row prides itself on not taking itself too seriously, a little more attention to detail in this department could have gone a long way.
Also, the lighting can be inconsistent and uneven. Although not noticeable in daylight, inconsistent lighting is very apparent at night, where dark areas are often barely visible and brighter areas with flashing neon lights are almost blinding.
Luckily, the incredibly detailed character customization feature adds flavor to your bland character model with seemingly endless options. This gives you the ability to make your boss as ridiculous or clumsy as you want. With clothing options ranging from a bloody hazmat suit and shaded helmet to ripped jeans and stylish sunglasses, there’s no shortage of silly or serious outfits. You can also modify almost every physical aspect of your character, including prosthetics and face paint.
You’ll unlock new clothes as you progress and dive into the dumpster, but you can also buy clothes and tattoo styles from shops spread across the map, all of which must be visited and interacted with with 100% gameplay. Neatly, Saints Row gives you the power to change your character’s appearance at any time using your smartphone, an enjoyable quality of life feature that builds on the tagline “Be Your Own Boss” from the game.
Another cool feature is the ability to purchase and download community creations made by other players that allow you to play as your favorite celebrity or fictional character.
Whether you’re playing story missions or indulging in criminal shenanigans, you’ll encounter resistance from rival gangs, paramilitary forces, and law enforcement. Throughout Santo Ileso, you’ll come across opportunities to eliminate threats and increase your income in each district, as well as plenty of random side hustle and hitman contracts.
In an attempt to expand your criminal empire, you will have the opportunity to open Criminal Ventures, which are businesses that champion criminal enterprises and generate passive income over time. You can see every possible business venture at the Empire Table at Saints HQ, and each of these businesses has its own set of activities, such as participating in new product testing for a Hoverboard and a sticky football powered by a rocket of death and the commitment of insurance. fraud by being run over by as many vehicles as possible.
Initially, these activities are a nice change of pace from the main campaign missions. Ironically, they start to get even more tedious and repetitive than the main missions after a while.
As such, having a solid combat system plays a big part in the instant playtime fun of Saints Row. Luckily, the core mechanics are tight enough once you get the hang of them, and taking down dozens of enemies at once is hugely satisfying. Although the combat doesn’t really push you to go through all the different weapons or make full use of the best abilities. Almost all combat encounters can be completed by spamming enemies with bullets from your pistol or assault rifle, which is much faster than using skills or melee finishers which may look cool but are have long animation times.
The most frustrating part, however, is that enemies have a nasty habit of dodging bullets, even when you shoot them at close range. Admittedly, seeing basic enemies evade incoming bullets like Neo from The Matrix is just as hilarious as it is annoying. Additionally, aiming tends to be inconsistent, making combat even more of a chore if you don’t rely on aim assist.
When you’re not busy fighting gangs and blowing things up, you’ll be spending a lot of time behind the controls of land, air, and sea vehicles. You can drive just about anything, from golf carts and dump trucks to helicopters and speedboats. Just like with your character, vehicles also have a ton of customization options, both cosmetic and mechanical. These include adding Nitrous Kits and Off-Road Kits, as well as completing challenges to unlock signature abilities such as ejection seats and wrecking balls.
Driving has an arcade feel, making it easy to perform amazing stunts and avoid oncoming traffic. The vehicles do not have much weight, but they handle well even in off-road driving. While driving in Saints Row isn’t the most realistic, it’s still one of the most enjoyable parts of the game. Plus, the vehicles make for some great high-speed chase sequences that really get your adrenaline pumping. . The ability to ram and side-swipe enemy vehicles and instantly watch them burst into flames is hugely satisfying.
The reboot replaces the Gat crew and features completely new characters. You play as The Boss and will spend most of your time accompanied by Neenah, Kevin and Eli, who are the founding members of the Saints. As they struggle to make ends meet, the group of friends start a criminal organization to make quick money and seize power from rival factions.
The 3 p.m. story attempts to make its cast likable and interesting, but it ultimately fails. Although the characters have distinct appearances and personalities, poor writing and disappointing dialogue sometimes make them unbearable to listen to. Saints Row also likes to throw cringe-worthy jokes at you from time to time, which mostly fall flat. While some of these jokes may slip into games from the previous series, they don’t match the more serious tone of this reboot and end up feeling forced or out of place.
The narrative also suffers from poor writing and short duration. There are some great over-the-top action pieces scattered throughout the story, but they don’t do enough to make up for the repetitive mission structure.
Saints Row Review – The Basics
- Satisfying ride and combat.
- Exciting action-packed sequences.
- New dynamic setting and location.
- Uninteresting story and characters.
- Repetitive missions.
- Disgusting humor and dialogue.
This reboot of Saints Row stays true to the essence of the series, but doesn’t address the issues that have kept the series from competing with Grand Theft Auto. While the classic open-world formula may have worked in the past, Saints Row comes across as unambitious and basic. Both mechanically and visually, the game is closer to being a remaster of a last-gen game than a full-fledged reboot.
That’s not to say Saints Row doesn’t have some redeeming qualities, but its memorable moments are so rare. It offers what you would expect from a typical action sandbox game, but only at the bare minimum. Most of what Saints Row has to offer has already been done better elsewhere. If you’re looking for an open-world game with silly fun and over-the-top action, then it might be worth taking a trip to Santo Ileso. Unfortunately for most, this reboot struggles to deliver anything unique that sets it apart from the crowd of similar games.