Release Date: Out Now
GTA spawns at least a couple of clones every year, and every year we hope and expect that one of them will bring something new to the sandbox game table, or improve on Rockstar’s mega-franchise, in at least some way. Saints Row gets off to a good start as it allows you to design how your in-game character looks in great detail, from face shape, eye colour and shade of skin (if you’ve played a Tiger Woods game in the last few years you’ll know what to expect). You buy food to boost your health, weapons & ammo, clothes and can even change the look of your character in-game, you can steal just about any vehicle you come across and store it in your garage (even customize many of them) – so far, so good, and so very San Andreas…
Caught up in a violent gang battle, your character’s ass is saved by the Saints, and naturally you become one of them, and so the game’s story and pattern is set – you complete various tasks and activities to earn ‘respect’ to unlock more missions from the Saints and advance the story mode. Much like GTA you have complete freedom to just tour around the city of Stilwater stealing vehicles, shooting people and generally having a mindlessly great time until you realize that 2 hours have passed and you’ve accomplished exactly nothing.
Unfortunately it didn’t take me long to discover a few problems, including some shameful bugs and glitches, not least the fact that occasionally your vehicle will completely disappear as the game stutters to load a new section of the city, leaving the passengers suspended in mid-air until the game jolts back into life and redraws the car! – This “event” has even resulted in a complete crash of the console, requiring me to turn it off and reboot – along with SR’s lack of an autosave this means I lost about 3 hours play on one occasion…
Another common complaint from people who’ve played the game is the lack of indication that you’re getting hit by bullets – many a mission has been failed simply by the fact that there is no “threat detector”, and there’s often so much going on that spurts of blood gushing from your character aren’t enough to tell you that you’re being sniped from afar. Cars will also explode like they’re full of C4 explosive when they reach a certain damage level, which whilst being spectacular to look at, also results in some annoying deaths.
The overpowering feeling I got when playing SR is that it simply isn’t finished, and the designers had many more ideas they wanted to incorporate into the game; for instance despite a decent back story too many missions feel exactly like the previous one, there’s a massive airport with just one small jet standing forlornly there, there are miles of railroad track in the game with detailed rolling stock, but no moving trains apart from the city’s L-Train, miles of beautiful water (and a docks and boatyard) but no usable boats, and many vehicles like Taxis, Ambulances, earth moving vehicles, car transporters, fire engines, delivery vans etc. all of which could and should have side missions available to them, but don’t – and where are the motorbikes?
- Good looking
- Excellent physics and ragdoll
- Spectacular explosions
- Loads of detail and lots to do
- Neat customisation options
- Buggy, including one that can lock your 360 up solid!
- Tearing graphics spoil the look
- Vanishing cars
- Samey missions
- Not enough indication that you’re taking damage
- The whole street gang thing has been done to death, and done much better
- Seems unfinished, hence the score