Review: Saints Row

Looking and acting very similar to the Grand Theft Auto series, Saints Row features an interesting take on the genre. Too little, too late? Or just the right mix of new and old? Read on for our take on Volition’s game.

When we originally heard about Saints Row, we weren’t all that impressed and just concluded that we had another Grand Theft Auto clone on our hands. But since seeing the game in action at E3 earlier this year, we were pleasantly surprised at some of the advancements that development team, Volition, had made. The publisher, THQ, was also keen to point out that Saints Row will include all the latest graphical wizardry, no load delays, advanced vehicle damage modelling and AI techniques.

Don’t forget – if you’d like to form your own opinion and not take our word on how the game performs, you can download the Saints Row demo right now from Xbox Live Marketplace via a broadband connection.

Describing the game briefly, Saints Row is a gang-themed action game that borrows quite heavily from the Grand Theft Auto series while introducing some interesting features of its own. The game’s multiplayer content, for example, promises to be what GTA players’ dreams are made of, and there’s plenty to get excited about when playing solo as well.

To progress through Saints Row’s story mode, you have to earn respect, which can be achieved either by completing story missions or by taking part in various (mostly illegal) activities. Respect works in much the same way as experience points do in role-playing games, and every time you level up you’ll unlock the next tier of story missions.

Briefly, what we liked about the game- The character customisation feature had us, well, chortling with pain and pleasure. It was funny how easily we could turn our gang member from a normal, slender average Joe, to a horrid and disfigured, fat man. Not that we’re all about the cheap laughs here in the Cyber Shack… we just thought it was nice addition to the game!

What we didn’t like- Shooting and aiming your weapons is a pain. When you’re firing your weapons, there’s no auto-targeting; firing is done the old fashion way – by lining up the aiming reticule accurately with your target. Which wouldn’t be bad if there are only two or three enemies to kill, but if there’s an angry mob of gangbangers out for your blood, then firing becomes more of chore than pleasure.

Despite our initial fears about the gameplay of Saints Row, Volition has introduced a refreshing perspective to an already convoluted genre. With recent Grand Theft Auto titles relying on a ‘rinse-and-repeat’ formula, the impressive character rag-doll physics, destructible environments and an easy-to-control driving model for vehicles makes for some fun and engaging gameplay.

Developer- Volition Inc.

Publisher- THQ

Classification- MA15

Formats- Xbox 360

URL- Saints Row