A Little History of the Saints
Let me start off by saying I am a HUGE Saints Row fanatic. I love the controls, I love the handling and more recently I love the quirkiness; I pretty much love it all. However, when I first started Saints Row IV I wasn’t sure if I liked the direction. This post will have some spoilers and I don’t apologize for them. If you haven’t played this 2 year old game then I’m sorry for that, but not for potentially ruining it. Oh… and Happy Thanksgiving, and if you don’t celebrate it, then choose one of the following daily holidays:
- Good Grief Day (Charlie would be proud)
- National Cake Day (Mmmm… Cake…)
- National Day of Mourning (This is due to the fact I don’t have any cake)
A Little Prequel Action
So I started playing Saints Row 2 for the Xbox 360 years ago when I was looking for a good multiplayer Co-Op free-roaming game that I could LAN my two 360’s with (I was a little cheap to buy two PCs). Some of the titles I enjoyed playing were Red Dead Redemption (UGH I love RDR, it’s so good!) and Saints Row 2. Saints Row 2 was the better bigger brother of Grand Theft Auto in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong I loved Vice City for the PS2, I played countless hours of it and I had to convince my parents that the Rated M was purely a government thing that it wasn’t that bad of a game. Boy, I got yelled at when Australia started banning it and they saw it on the news. Woops. Anyways, I love the classic GTAs. Heck I remember owning the anthology on the PS1 and owning a demo (remember those) of GTA2 for the PC. What a fantastic series… but then I felt it went to Hell. I wasn’t a fan of San Andreas, the Co-Op seemed messy and needed to much work, the innovation was great, but other than that, eh. I despised GTA IV and didn’t care for V later. You can blame Saints Row for me.
Begone Heathens, the Saints are here!
So I’ve come to realize that this blog is off topic, I should be spouting out love rage or hate for this game. However, I think I like where this backstory is going. Time to get back to Saints Row 2, SR2 had AWESOME customization abilities. I loved being able to paint my car, upgrade it with NOS and have under-body lighting (I thought under-body lighting was so cool, I bought a set in High School to install in my Silhouette… it wasn’t cool, it was EPIC). Anyways, I loved the customization, another aspect I loved was the handling. Those cars handled so nicely, Hell the street sweepers handled better than the top race cars in GTA. And finally Co-Op. Ugh, after decades I’m still a huge fan of Co-Op and it’s pretty much a deal breaker for any game with me, even to this day. Whether it’s creating a mini-LAN in my office to play with my girlfriend, gaming with a friend in another state on the PS4 in Party Mode, or playing a game on Steam with voice chat. Needless to say, I LOVE CO-OP. And when it works, I’m happy. Saints Row 2 had working’ish Co-Op, it wasn’t great, but it did have the drop-in/drop-out methodology, similar to Baldur’s Gate Dark Alliance… lord I love that game too. It’s safe to say I am addicted to Co-Op, so much so that I’ve written older blogs about suggestions for any system out there. If it has a good Co-Op I’ve played it, beaten it and wrote about it.
From 2 to 4. 3 was alright.
Saints Row 2 started my cult following. SR3 is when they started getting a little odd and I didn’t mind. The graphics were well done, the Co-Op worked and once again they added extra customization. SR4 is when they started going a little crazy. I constantly thought, what major drug did they take in bulk to create this game…? It was off the wall, the comedy was everywhere and it was odd. Whether it was attacking the evil Santa Clause, using a dubstep gun to make people get down, or whacking people with a giant D!C#. Odd yes… great, absolutely! Once again Co-Op on Steam worked fantastic. However as I played the game further I realized something. As I battled aliens that were attacking earth. I realized I had missed the classic old school gangs, the storyline of the original Saint Row games that I had fallen in love with. I mean Shaundi was HOT! Attacking aliens that were creating a virtual world of Saints Row where you had superpowers took away my favorite aspect of the original games. Death. I couldn’t really die, it seemed too easy. Also, car customization. When you could run in a blue blur and knock tanks in the sky, all of which faster than a jet. The aspect of owning a car and upgrading it seems pointless, in fact it made any car seem slow. This made me sad.
While looking over the multitude of hours I spent on Saints Row IV I realized I was getting older, and as I looked back at previous SR games I felt as though they lost their way, and instead of trying to find it. They created their own way. It was smooth, it was sleek and it had massive amounts of explosions. But what it lacked was substance. You weren’t the lonely gang building up the ranks, instead you replaced your hoodlums with mascots and ninjas. Swords and Machetes were replaced with phallic weapons and music cannons. Sports cars were replaced with well… jogging? Overall SR4 was a well-designed game with a clever storyline, but in the end it just didn’t feel like Saints Row any more. It was a title that even Johnny Gatz couldn’t save.
Rent or Buy: If you have an older console (PS3/360), rent it. It’s a fun game with a clever storyline and you will certainly chuckle. Also Co-Op! If you are a Saints Row fan, then I think you will become nostalgic… and miss the past, and weep for the future. If you are looking for a third person action game, then buy it. It’s cheaper than it ever has been and it’s a 20+ hour experience.
Alternatives: I’m not mentioning GTA here since it’s clear they are no longer in the same state. So I would suggest playing them in reverse. Start at SR4 where it goes crazy. SR3 where it’s starting to lose its mind and finally play SR2 where you begin to understand the roots. Essentially it becomes the Benjamin Button of video gaming. Oh, and if you have time play the original but, eh.