Thursday, May 22, 2008

Xbox 360 - Saint's Row

Saints Row by THQ

Note to parents: Like GTA IV, Saints Row (and this review) contain mature themes. I wouldn't recommend this game to anyone younger than 17.

This Xbox 360 game has got to be one of the single most underrated games out there. I've seen little buzz about this game and even the Gamestop clerks didn't have much to say about this game.

Well, here's my review of it. I decided to purchase this game and play it along side GTA IV. I knew that this game was primarily about 'Gangs', but what I didn't expect was that it is basically GTA without the name. So, let me tell you that while GTA IV is a welcome addition to Xbox 360, Saints Row (a 2 year old game) blows GTA IV away in many respects.


This game utilizes a similar style of mission based system to GTA IV. So, as you progress, different missions open up from different areas and from different people. Except, with GTA series, most of the missions are linear even if assigned by another person. This means that in order to get to the end of the game, you have to progress through GTA IV in a linear fashion.

With Saint's Row, your missions are not always related to one another and can be done simultaneous (once available). Even still, unlike GTA IV, Saint's Row has 'activities' that give you both cash and respect points. Respect points give you the ability to open more missions. Activities give you more things to do in the game. So, as you complete activities and chalk up cash and respect points, you can do more missions.

The overall premise of the game is to own the whole Saints Row territory by getting it back from rival gangs. You do this through a series of missions. Missions involve various types of things, but are usually in the GTA style (i.e., driving people around, blowing things up, snipering rival gangs, etc). So, the ultimate point is to get all of the territory to become owned by the 3rd street gang (Saints Row).


Some activities include:

  • Finding cars for the chop shop to earn cash and respect
  • Tagging certain areas with 'Saints' to earn respect
  • Escorting prostitutes around with their johns (avoiding paparazzi)
  • Gathering up prostitutes to give them back to their madams
  • Hostage missions when you jack a car (to earn cash)

With the money you earn, you can buy such things as clothes, jewelry, expensive cars, food, alcohol, drugs, weapons (of course) and plastic surgery.

GTA similarities

If you have played GTA III or GTA IV, then you have basically played Saints Row. The way THQ designed SR is almost identical to GTA in most respects. So, you can easily play SR if you've played any GTA III or newer game. For this reason, I won't go into too much detail on exactly how SR works because it's so similar to GTA.

Controls and Features

In most ways, Saints Row copied GTA's control system. And, just like GTA, you can jack cars, run people over, blow cars up, obtain weapons, buy weapons and and store your vehicles (basically using the same keys on the controller). However, THQ took this idea one step further. Now, you can store as many cars as you want in the garage. You can take vehicles to the mechanic and soup them up (paint them, add hydraulics, decals, racing fins, etc). You can save your game anywhere without having to be at your 'apartment' (or crib).

The controls respond better than the controls for GTA IV. I always felt that GTA IV's controls felt sluggish and lagged. Saints Row controls perform much better and respond much faster. So, it's easier to get out of a jam (in most cases) with the control system. The cars also seem to actually be running the correct speed. In GTA IV, the cars also seem sluggish and slow.


The first thing you'll notice when you start up Saints Row is that it gives you the ability to customize your character right from the beginning (including race, face shape, etc). In this way, it has an almost RPG feel to it. The game doesn't quite live up to a full RPG, but it's a lot closer to an RPG than GTA has ever been. This is also what I was hoping GTA IV would have been, but wasn't.


While the graphics don't completely stack up as nicely as GTA IV's (after all GTA IV is newer), the graphics are still quite well done. The cars break apart well when crashed up and blow up nicely. There are a lot of touches in Saints Row that I can see that Rockstar copied for GTA IV and improved upon.


The radio works almost identically to GTA and the voice overs are equally as impressive as GTA. So, when you're listening to the talk radio show in Saints Row, it's just like what you would expect in GTA.


While I have found some bugs in this game, I have only found one lockup bug. I have found a few glitchy things (background disappears and reappears), character gets locked into a motion and can't get out, etc. Overall, these have been few and far between. Because you can save anywhere, you can easily restart and pretty much get back to where you were. However, I would prefer a save that starts you exactly where you left off instead of starting you back at the last save point (usually inside the crib).


Saints Row is completely underrated and ignored and overshadowed by the GTA series. However, this game is equally as good as GTA IV in many respects and even excells in areas where GTA fails. I'm definitely anxious to see Saints Row 2 (to be released in August 2008) and see how it stacks up to GTA IV.

  • Graphics: 8/10 (only because it's not as pretty as GTA IV and the 3D characters could use some work)
  • Sound: 9/10 (you can pick your own tracks from the 360)
  • Controls: 9/10 (driving) / 8/10 (walking)
  • Bang-2-Buck: 9/10 (it'll keep you playing for a while, definitely worth the $20 or so that it costs now)
  • Replay value: 4/10 (I'd play it again)
  • Overall: 9/10 (a few bugs here and there)