It has been nearly 10 years since Saints Row had a new entry into the series. So it comes as no surprise that Saints Row was highly anticipated by many fans. After the lackluster game that was Saints Row IV, it seemed that the series was going in a downward spiral that was very similar to Duke Nukem. So when it seemed that Deep Silver Volition had decided to revert back to a more serious approach to the Saints Row narrative, there is no doubt that I was very excited.
Saints Row goes back to the way things should be!
As has become customary in the Saints Row series, you take on the role of Boss, or Playa if you prefer. And once again, have to build up your criminal empire. Except this time, you don’t just start out as a member of the Saints. Instead, you begin your journey as a broke student that happens to find a job working for Marshall Defence Industries, a private military corporation. You’re also stuck in a dingy apartment with three friends, Eli, Neenah and Kevin, who are all working for different gangs. After some life changing events occur, you and your companions decide to take the world by storm, by starting up The Saints. And that is only the beginning!
This narrative is very reminiscent of the early Saints Row games. It focuses on a more serious approach in the story telling, but there are still plenty of humorous moments throughout. However, this title is in no way intended to be a parody of itself, as Saints Row IV seems to have been. It did initially seem strange to have a Saints Row title that does not feature the usual cast of characters, such as Johnny Gat and Shaundi. But honestly, the new crew are really interesting and entertaining. These fresh faces have great chemistry between them which lead to many excellent moments throughout the narrative.
Saint Row’s combat is slicker than ever
This is easily the best feeling Saints Row game in the series. The gun combat is really smooth, and the added takedown mechanic is fantastic. It gives you another way to quickly dispatch your foes when in the middle of a gunfight. There are also new skills available, which aid you in your fight out on the streets. My favourite is the Pinaepple Express. This is where you “grab an enemy, drop a grenade down their pants, and throw them.” It is absolutely hilarious to see an enemy get hurled through the air, only to fall onto their gang members and explode.
Now I know from early gameplay footage that the driving mechanics have been criticised quite heavily! Especially for how arcade-y the driving looked. From the moment you jump into a vehicle, it becomes quite clear that realistic car mechanics were not the focus of this title. And honestly, I think that was an excellent design choice. After all, this isn’t a driving sim… Being able to drift around corners with ease at high speeds is great fun! Slinging your car into others during vehicular combat is really entertaining. Plus, the upgrades you can get for different vehicles after completing various challenges just adds another layer to the car mechanics. This is good stuff!
Controlling and building your empire also looks slightly different in this new entry. Instead of just driving up to the various stores around the city and buying them, you now have the option of creating new businesses which you can place at various locations around the map. These new businesses will then give you optional missions to take on. These missions help them grow and put some more cash in your pocket.
The interesting world of Saints Row
Saints Row’s new setting, Santo Ileso, is a vibrant city filled to the brim with areas to explore. There are also many different world events to complete. These include the usual side quests such as Insurance Fraud, as well as a bunch of new missions. Toxic Waste in particular is really entertaining, because you have to dispose of hazardous waste in a not so legal dumping location. There are many new criminal ventures that you can take on to help build your empire.
Taking a look at the presentation of the game, the visual design is quite stunning! The developers have really invested in making this the best looking Saints Row game. This is most noticeable in character creation. All the hair now actually looks like hair! Rather than just the cell shaded domes that sat on the head of the Boss in previous entries. Whilst on the topic of the character creation, it is a little disappointing that the deeper British voice has not returned. Now I can no longer make Jason Statham be the Boss. Oh well, I just went for a Texan Cowboy instead.
Overall, Saints Row is a stellar entry into the established series. Returning to the more serious narrative stylings that are similar to Saints Row 1 & 2, has been an excellent decision from Deep Silver Volition. There is no doubt that there was a level of risk with focusing on an entirely new cast of characters. However, this has paid off big time and really feels like a fresh entry in the franchise. The excellent narrative, combined with the slick combat and fun traversal makes this game one that is definitely worth picking up.
By Samuel Incze
Deep Silver Volition took a bold step in setting Saints Row around a whole new crew, and it absolutely paid off. Featuring a cast of interesting and entertaining characters, this narrative reverts back to the more serious nature of Saints Row 1 & 2. Add to this some really slick combat and driving mechanics, as well as a world filled to the brim with fun side quests and areas to explore, and you have an absolutely stellar entry into the Saints Row series!
This game was reviewed using a download code provided by Deep Silver Volition and Deep Silver. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.