Genre: Open World | Third Person | Action-Adventure
Modes: Single Player | Multiplayer
Developed by: Volition
Published by: Deep Silver
Release date: August 23 2022
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Google Stadia and PC
Platform I played on: PC
The Saints Row series has been around since 2006, first debuting on the Xbox (red ring of death) 360. Following on from this, the series has spawned 3 sequels and 1 standalone expansion. The last mainline title was in 2013, and standalone expansion in 2015. With the series being compared to the likes of (shocking no one at this point with the first comparison) GTA and Watch Dogs, Saints Row has gained quite the reputation within the open world genre.
For me personally I've only played Saints Row 2 (which I enjoyed) and some of Saints Row: The Third. So for me jumping into this reboot, I didn't have any high expectations for the series. I went in with an open mind and after playing it, I think it's a fairly decent reboot. Is it perfect? No. Could it be improved? Yes. But, there's still fun to be had and if you go in with no expectations, you might just enjoy it like I did. Why? Let's jump in;
Set in the fictional city of Santo Ileso (which is loosely based on Las Vegas) you play as "The Boss" alongside your three roommates; Kev, Neenah and Eli. In the city there are three criminal factions known as the Los Panteros, The Idols and Marshall Defence Industries. Your character is affiliated with Marshall Defence Industries, Kev and Eli are with the Idols, and Neenah with Los Panteros. Despite their different rival factions, the four are still good friends. Eventually as you progress through the story, you decide to instead form a new faction called The Saints, and your mission is to take down the other three criminal factions who currently control the city.
Throughout the story, the characters don't really develop and they each remain fairly one dimensional - but they're still fine characters who have a solid friendship. I didn't find anything spectacularly outstanding with the voice acting or the dialogue. The dialogue may be a hit or a miss for some, but ultimately I didn't mind it. If you don't mind some cheesy, goofy lines then you'll probably not mind it either.
Unfortunately there's no big stakes within the story - There are some moments that all the characters have to overcome at least, but nothing too major. As for the mission types, I actually thought there was a fun variation which I appreciated. The LARP (Live Action Role Play) mission was one of my favourites, and thankfully kept my interest. As for the humour side of things, there's a bit in here with some dialogue and situations the characters get themselves into. Of course, humour is subjective so some may enjoy it, while others may not so much - or at all. There's also a few self reflexive moments and some cheesy movie references as well.
Overall this 11-12ish hour main story was fairly average with nothing new to give to the genre or the series. If you're looking for a new, innovative open world action game with a gripping narrative - you're not going to get that here. You can see some story beats coming from a mile away, and there wasn't anything that was too high stake.
The combat and driving/steering feels a bit clunky and off, but once you get the hang of it it's not too bad. It's not perfect or as defined as one was hoping for, considering a lot of what you do includes handling vehicles and beating your enemies. You also have a wingsuit that you can glide from rooftops with, and it is genuinely fun to glide around with especially if you're interested to see the entire scope of the city, or you just wanna see how far you can glide.
As this is an open world game, there's also side missions you can do to earn cash or build up your empire, and you can check all this via your phone. Your phone includes a map, camera, contacts, style change, skills, perks, collectibles and apps to earn you cash.
The character customisation gives you a decent variation of style as well as picking from a few voice options too, and you can now customise your character via an app on your phone at any given time. You don't have to go to a specific place to change your character, which is a refreshing option to have.
You can also view other players characters customisations, and I gotta say - y'all are creative! Shout out to whoever made a blue Tobias from Arrested Development! (which may just be my favourite one). There was also Shaggy from Scooby Doo, Shrek, Marge Simpson, Hopper from Stranger Things, Joker (so many versions of them), Aiden from Watch Dogs, Marty McFly, Scarlet Witch, Lara Croft - the list goes on! I thought that was a cool addition to being able to share and see what others have created.
Graphics | Design
Unfortunately I was a little bit disappointed with the graphics and was hoping for something a bit more crisp. For me personally I don't usually mind graphics as I play games more for the story, but here it was a little bit off and could have used a bit more time in the oven, so to speak. In saying that, it didn't ruin my entire experience but if you're someone who cares a lot about graphics, this may be a bit more disappointing for you. One could say that this was their stylistic intention, but still could have been just a bit more crisp.
The overall design of the world they've created is decent and fairly large, and clearly a lot of effort was put into it. But, personally I was hoping it could have had a bit more life in it - such as more interactions with more places to visit other than clothing stores, for example.
I must say it's a fairly decent variation of music, there's a little bit of something for all different types of players. In saying that though, there could have been a few more tunes and genres in here. While you're driving you can flick through these stations as you're driving, killin and/or chillin';
Dos Ochos | KFSTA 88.5 - Classical Spanish + Mexican music
Santo Public Radio | KSIPR 90.5 - Classical music including artists Beethoven and Mozart
Tumbleweed Radio | KWPKE 93.3 - Country music
The Drop | KXBPM 95.7 - EDM including Dillion Francis and Disclosure
The Cipher | KJMMZ 99.5 - Old School Rap including artists DMX and TLC
Outrun | KFADR 101.1 - Synthpop
Route Overdrive | KFVZZ 103.3 - Garage Rock/Indie including The 1975 and Modest Mouse
Flex | KGRLL 103.5 - Hip Hop/Rap including Princess Nokia
El Latido | 106.1 - Spanish Pop
Nuclear Blast | KNUUK 97.9 - Heavy Metal including artists Slayer and In Flames
There's also newscasts and advertisements weaved in.
Glitches | bugs | issues
I unfortunately did come across a few glitches, including a gun not loading in the correct position, failing a mission despite not actually failing the mission, and a section towards the end of the game that didn't progress for me. The solution for most of these was to reload a checkpoint and it would be fine. The only game breaking issue I had was the game crashing once, but once I hopped back into the game nothing was corrupted or deleted. Still, these issues were slightly annoying.
Personally I wouldn't jump back in. I don't know if I can see the appeal for replay ability, but for some players this may be their bread and butter - each to their own I say.
While this won't be in my top games of the year list, I still had fun and enjoyed the time I spent playing it despite it's flaws. As for recommending this game, I think if you're perhaps new to gaming or if this is your first open world title and are looking for something that doesn't take it's self too seriously, then this may be a game for you to check out. For old and new Saints Row fans alike, I think if you go in with zero expectation and just enjoy the game for what it is, I can also recommend this to you.