Saints Row

Saints Row
Game: Saints Row
Platform: Xbox 360
Studio: THQ
Rating: 9/10

GAME DESCRIPTION: Welcome to Stilwater, a city where the streets are everything but tranquil. Divided by rival gangs, you’ll need to adopt savvy street smarts in order to make money and build respect. As a member of the 3rd St. Saints, you need to push back against a city looking to wipe you out, in order to rise up the ranks and eventually control the streets. If it takes theft, extortion or tried and true brute force, then that’s what you’ve got to do – only then will you rule the streets. But watch your back! On your rise as the city’s controlling syndicate, reputable and powerful gangs, including politicians will have you in their cross-hairs.

* High-Adrenaline Action Online – For the first time ever challenge players online in games such as ‘Big A$$ Chains’, ‘Blinged Out Ride’ or ‘Protect tha Pimp’. Form gangs, recruit gang members and compete for cash & respect in a variety of online multiplayer modes including co-op.
* Evolution in Open-World Gaming – Next Gen Technology means no load times, a fully dynamically lit world, normal and reflection mapping, dynamic and ragdoll physics. Freeform gameplay means that you can be who you want to be, go anywhere in the city at any time and choose to earn respect & money through a range of different activities & missions.
* Huge Variety of Customization Options – With thousands of character customizations to choose from you can customize your look, your body and your clothes as well as customize your ride with the extensive car modification system.
* Pumping Music Wherever you go – 12 radio stations play over 130 tracks which range from the hottest Hip-Hop & rock stations to classical music & humor-laced talk shows. If you are paying attention you’ll also hear gameplay clues on air. Personal audio devise also let’s you add your own mp3 tracks for customized listening!

PLAY: If someone gave me Saints Row to play without a box or other information my first impression would be that this was Grand Theft Auto: Stilwater. And that’s a huge compliment. The fact that there are things that Saints Row gets right that GTA got wrong is a huge surprise. Saints Row borrowed heavily from the GTA franchise—and never looked back.

Everything from the maps to stealing cars to trying to build your rep all come from Grand Theft and as with GTA you are given tasks to complete but never restricted. While exploring you can do cool things like scam for money and buy new gear. Then again you can stay in your neighborhood and shoot a few fools who might come steppin’. But at the end of the day you are on a mission and that involves a lot of violence, drug dealing, and other scams. One of the funniest aspects is getting hit by a car for insurance money.

And your character isn’t already handed to you out of the box. You must create him from scratch. There are different hair styles, sizes and shapes of faces and jaw size, mustaches, and more. It’s an amazing amount of detail and makes the game fun to play a few times over.

The controls are well done. This is where Saints Row outdoes GTA. Shooting is easy. The aiming is smarter than GTA because it’s not so complicated that you never get used to it. The target sits center and it only takes a few shots to get aiming and shooting down cold. In GTA, shooting was always a major frustration—one that was never sorted out because they claimed the shooting system was an attempt to make it more real. When in reality shooting a real gun is easier than shooting in GTA. Bravo to Saints Row for making capping fun. Similarly, driving is a piece of cake–one button for the gas and one for the brakes/reverse. It doesn’t get any easier than that. Just don’t mess with the right stick while driving as it will swing the camera around and make you feel like you are driving drunk.

GRAPHICS: If you’re pimping Saints Row in HD you’ll be both pleased and puzzled. The environments are fantastic. Even more impressive is how your custom character is used in animated sequences—talk about a major step-up in console gaming! One odd situation is issues with textures—although it does a great job of fading into new areas of the city. There are also times when victims disappear or their car disappears. Thankfully, these technical glitches don’t take away from the your level of enjoyment.

SOUND: Again like in GTA, you car jack someone and get to listen to whatever they were jamming before you got in and can change the channel as you feel necessary. It was so loud that it became distracting–so often I just shut off the radio. The list for songs is massive—as detailed by the credits in the back of the book. Even more impressive is the voice acting with such actors as Michael Clarke Duncan, David Carradine, Michael Rappaport, and Tia Carrera!

FRANKLY: You’ll have fun, fun, fun until the policemen come and take you away. Seriously, Saints Row is a totally rip-off of GTA and we couldn’t be happier. If someone told me there would be a game that rivaled Liberty City with better graphics and a better shooting scheme it’d sound too good to be true. Looks like Christmas came early this year!

+ Richie Wright






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