It’s hard to believe that the Saints Row franchise is over 16 years old in the video game industry. With multiple sequels that increased the extravagance one after another, totally absurd stories, and addictive missions because of its sound design. But, above all, because of a personality that did not take anything seriously, it moved further and further away from the competition and resulted in a hilarious title.
Unfortunately, after fully exploiting each of its qualities in its various sequels, the franchise reached a creative standstill. That is why Volition sought a way to give the franchise a new look with a complete reboot of the entire saga: new characters and locations to start with, but with the promise of maintaining the same spirit that made the franchise so famous. But is this reboot faithful to the saga? Is it just more of the same? We will accompany you on your journey while providing all details about the new Saints Row in this helpful review.
Saints Row is a sandbox genre title where the player can freely explore the entire map while solving story quests and a ridiculous amount of side activities. If you are new to the franchise, this may sound like Grand Theft Auto. Saints Row was created as a tribute/parody to the Rockstar title, and that is where its most excellent appeal comes from, the absurdity of its story and mechanics.
Now, how much does this reboot change compared to previous titles? Well, the short answer is: very little, more than a total reboot of the saga, the new Saints Row feels more like a sequel with new characters. But it brings with it much, much of the same that we saw in the past, and this plays both good and bad for this reboot.
The new Saints Row takes place in Santo Ileso, a much larger city with more activities and things to do to sink and waste time. We are talking about a more extensive map than in previous titles, with the characteristics of industrial, urban, desert areas, and some places to swim.
Don’t expect an immersive or interactive map. Inside Santo Ileso, we have the classic passers-by who don’t pay much attention to your actions and a police system that will persecute you at the slightest inconvenience. So far, it sounds pretty similar to any of its old installments, so what does this reboot bring again?
Well, nothing except for the size; the setting is quite similar to previous titles. Sure, there are also new buildings and particular areas, but they’re not something that can surprise players… luckily that’s what story missions and side activities are for.
Welcome to Santo Ileso
As this is a reboot, everything you knew about Saints Row is in the past. Now you and your cronies must forge a new criminal empire in the city. You and your team reveal yourself and form a new partnership called The Saints.
You will have to add allies, increase your savings and look for a new base of operations demonstrating your power in the Streets. All of the above implies that the story missions follow a very linear narrative since to develop your empire, you must face other gangs seeking to stop your destruction wave.
We noticed in this installment that much of the eccentricity and madness of past titles had been left in the past. Forget about those awkward moments or off-color jokes, we are in a very “x” story, which does not add anything to the lore of the game, and in the end.
It is resolved in the way you thought from the beginning, leaving you with a tasteless ending and very, very unexciting. We did not expect a masterpiece, but we would have liked the story missions to be more in line with what we remember from other installments, with that feeling of black humor that we liked so much.
What about the Saints Row gameplay? To begin with, you can create your main character very freely, and it can be just as you imagine it, with a very robust creation system that allows you to save several models and outfits so that you can change as many times as you want during your game without fear of lose your game.
The variety of clothing and unlockables that you will find will allow you to customize your character, share it with the community, and you can even download models from other players.
Once inside the game, we find the new skills and perks system. Skills are granted to you as you level up and are passive and active. Passive abilities give you more health and increase your flow level, allowing you to use active abilities. The latter allows you to perform special attacks, throw grenades, call your teammates or recover life when hitting enemies, and you can assign four of these abilities to your hot buttons to use them as long as your flow is active.
Non-stop attacking your enemies will increase your flow, that is, the engine of these skills, and by combining them with your weapons, you will have an excellent respite for when you face the waves of enemies. These skills are a great addition and give an extra to the combat, they are also very easy to use, and without problems, you will be coupling with them in your game.
We also have perks available, which are other types of improvements that you can unlock with in-game money. Running faster with low health, improving your aim, or doing more melee damage are examples of the perks you can find.
Likewise, these perks will be unlocked by completing challenges such as killing enemies with a specific type of weapon, connecting headshots, running, flying, and a long and extensive etcetera. This adds more customization to your character, as it feels like a small skill tree that you can upgrade or swap out depending on your play style.
Now, let’s talk about the main and side quests. Like much in the game, the developers didn’t take chances and played it safe, with main missions ranging from destroying enemy bases, storming a moving train, or driving at full speed while blowing up anything in your path. To be honest, we had fun with these missions, but we had a hard time knowing which were the main ones and which were the secondary ones.
Many are quite similar, with the same goals and similar resolutions. Although these missions are not tedious, they are repetitive and follow the same scheme: go from point A to point B, shoot and return. Yes, it is something that we could expect from the series, but we would have liked a little more creativity in this area, as it was promised to us with the reboot, but unfortunately, we did not find anything new.
Fortunately, the game includes various activities beyond the main missions. These side quests are unlocked as you progress through the story and are central to growing your empire. These activities or opportunities are businesses that will grant money from time to time; each one is different and has its own set of missions to increase your income.
Although they all use the same core mechanics, like driving and shooting, we liked that they were themed. For example, you will have a cleaning business where your goal is to cover up crimes, either hiding the evidence or blaming someone else, a weapon and vehicle evidence business, a castle for role-playing games, and one of our favorites, fraud. insurance where you must cause as much damage as possible on congested avenues.
As you can imagine, being an open world, Saints Row has hundreds of collectibles that range from objects to recover, photographs to take, to the opportunity to get statues that adorn your base of operations. There are also stores to buy clothes, tattoos, and various accessories to dress your character. If you have doubts, the game includes the classic radio system, where you will find a wide variety of music and speakers that will make your trips more pleasant.
Errors, Bugs, And A Little Imagination
Unfortunately, due to early review, we couldn’t test the co-op mode, which offers the opportunity to play missions with multiple friends online. We can always call NPCs in quests makes us think it will be a lot of fun to pick up on this idea in open-world side quests and extra activities when playing online.
When we find ourselves with an open-world game, bugs and glitches are the order of the day. In Saints Row, we find a game that constantly suffers from texture problems, unresponsive characters, impossible-to-complete missions, crashes, stuck menus, and a mediocre artificial intelligence.
This makes us think that the title needed time to iron out these glitches, and while there weren’t any that were utterly game-breaking, restarting missions or even the game because it didn’t detect the completion of a mission was a huge headache.
Saints Row also suffered from multiple complaints about its change in visuals, which at the end of the day, does not represent a drastic problem in the final game. If you are a fan of the saga, you will notice that the colors, environments, and designs are maintained well and do not feel alien to the saga.
What we did dislike is that the game looks old; even though it was developed for the new generations, having to drag past consoles did take its toll, and there is no noticeable visual jump. Also, Saints Row suffers a lot with animations, and we were rarely able to play with a constant 60 frames, and sometimes we dropped below 30. All this can be fixed with an update, but adding all the bugs mentioned above, we wonder how made Saints Row passed quality control.
There are several different primary and minor quests.
Very smooth and varied gameplay.
Fantastic use of music throughout the game.
There are numerous different ways to defeat and kill the enemy.
The positioning and focus of the control camera are poor.
The game’s aesthetics are mediocre, and the characters are not given any attention.
A Limited number of players in CO-OP.
Multiple technical errors.
Occasionally, there is a sudden dip in frame rate.
Saints Row Review
Is the Saints Row reboot a worthwhile title? If you're a big fan of the series, this installment will make you feel at home. But without the necessary changes to feel like the next step in the franchise, it already seems afraid to risk trying something new.
If this is your first time in the series, you will find a fun and irreverent title, but one that feels very mediocre compared to other open-world titles. We expected a lot more from this reboot, and while it's not all bad, its imperfections and lack of variety make it a title best left as a second or third choice in release season.
Hamiz Khan is a seasoned gamer with a knack for critics and game reviews. He explores Video Games from the inside out and then pens down unbiased reviews. While away, you may find him grinding Diablo 4.