When Saints Row was originally announced, it wasn't long off the cusp of the highly successful and innovative GTA San Andreas in the last generation of gaming. Many saw this game as a rip-off from that success as they took many elements from San Andreas and applied them to this game. The gang aspect was the most prominent comparison between the two as, in Saints Row you play a mute gangster who joins a group called the 3rd street saints who are a gang located in, you guessed it 3rd Street in the rundown city of stillwater. The 3rd Street Saints are a group in constant conflict between 3 other gangs of stillwater as they battle for control of the city.
The plot itself sees you, again an un named mute character witness a fight between these three gangs. You're unwittingly sucked into this battle and are thankfully saved by saints leader Julius and are brought in to prove yourself worthy of gang membership. Over the course of the game you engage in a number of missions that introduce you to the 3 seperate gangs. They are...
Los Carnales: This gang is lead by Hector Lopez and are quite a ruthless gang of street thugs sporting red gang colours.
Vice Kings: Are a group lead by a ruthless businessman and criminal by the name of Benjamin King. They are the highest profile gang and sport the colour yellow
Westside Rollerz: They are a group of street racers, let by street racing pro Joseph Price and they sport the blue colours.
Upon first glance, the gangs may not seem that intimidating or indeed that big in profile. However, when you get into the game you come to realise the power of each gang especially the Vice Kings lead by the intimidating Benjamin King played by Michael Clarke Duncan. Although it's a video game I found myself being genuinely intimidated by the presence of King and he was easily the best character within the game. Along with your enemy gang leaders, there's also the prominent characters within your own gang to become familiar with. Especially the quite frankly legendary Johnny Gat, who's a man not afraid of a good shoot 'em up. Along with taking over stillwater territory one disctrict of a time, you're also given a hell of a lot of other stuff to do.
The customisation of the game is when this game starts to become unique. Upon the beginning of the game, you're given the opton to create your main character from scratch. This includes morphing all facial features, character size and general body features. Cars are also fully customisable with a plethora of different features for each individual vehicle. This includes colours, bumpers, windows, hoods etc. Which also includes the option to have Nitro for your vehicle to take full advantage of the street racing games. As part of the customisation, you can also purchase cribs at different levels of the game. Unfortunately, in this instalment you can't customise the cribs, but it's brought in in the second game.
Along with customisation, there are a number of other different activities which you can take part in at your leisure. These games allow you to unlock other particular benefits and earn you some extra cash on the side. One of the more fun activities is the Insurance Fraud activity, which sees you throwing yourself in front of cars to get some extra cash. If you're not a fan of participating in the set side missions, you can also choose to hold up, or break into a store. To hold up a store you simply point your gun at the clerk and wait for them to open the safe. To break in, you wait 'till night time, smash your way into the back of a store, crack the safe and steal the goods inside.
The police mechanics aren't great in this game as you find that to avoid the police, you simply have to avoid doing anything wrong for a short period of time and the police meter will run out on you. The interraction with the gang wars is great and easy to use, the shooting system takes away the typically annoying targetting and allows you to free aim, which presents a much better gun fighting experience. One of the biggest drawbacks of the entire game is that there is no flying available. This is mainly due to the relatively new streaming technology employed by the Volition team to put together this game, meaning that to have any ability of flight would slow the game down immensely.
This is a really good game and although the free roam premise can be considered a GTA rip-off, there's no doubting that this is still a unique game in of its own. Just cool all over and something every XBOX360 owner should have in their game collection.
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About the reviewer
Steven Stewart (Steveo)
Currently studying Law at University, my main interests revolve around Politics. I read quite a lot and love learning about History. Not just the history of a specific time, place and person, but I'm … more
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If Grand Theft Auto created the open-world genre, Saints Row for the Xbox 360 has taken some bold steps to refine it. The fictional city of Stilwater is plagued by violence. Four rival gangs compete for turf through a series of petty crimes, street races, and vicious urban gun fights. One of these gangs is the 3rd Street Saints. As the newest initiate to the Saints, it’s your job to earn respect and street credit by accomplishing missions and running rival gangs out of your territory. Saints Row features a robust character creation system and allows you to take the fight online in a collection of multiplayer modes. Saints Row is available exclusively for the Xbox 360.