Saints Row 2022 is here and it is on a clean-up mission. After the wacky adventures of the previous installment where things got pretty crazy after the Saints’ boss became the President of USA and received super powers to stop alien invasions and zombie apocalypses, the latest game by Deep Silver decided to take a different approach. And usually, that is a worrying sign for gamers (we all remember Diablo Immortal and eFootball 2022).
The latest Saints Row wanted to go back to the basics of what made it such an iconic game, which even rivaled the popularity of Grand Theft Auto series in its heyday. The idea was simple. The game went to the origins of the Saints in a city called Santo Ileso and the player has to form his own gang and takeover the city with the help of a few friends. The only problem? Two warring gangs and a private military corporation which intends to eliminate all gangs from the city. The premise is definitely fun and the franchise is known for this. But has the game been able to execute this and create an experience which will not make the fans miss Saints Row 4? I spent two weeks with the game and this is what I found out.
But before we dive in, do know that Saints Row is available on Epic Games Store on PC and we tested the game on HP Omen 16, which is a mid-range gaming laptop. The game is also available for PlayStation and Xbox. The price on PC is kept at Rs. 1859 but console prices can go as high as Rs. 3,999.
The first 15 minutes of the game is action-packed and has some of the best dialogue-work in the entire game. You get to hear ‘the Boss’ being all snappy and witty without losing his charm. You very quickly get acclimated to the violence, foul-language and the intensity of the game environment and you begin to expect something big to go down. You also get introduced with some important elements of the game in this period.
First is customization. The game is very customization heavy and I was pleasantly surprised with the diverse character models as well as the detailing. While not all choices were realistic, they were all fun.
You also learn game controls, wide range of weapon selections as well as shooting mechanics of the game in this part. The shooting is not as accurate as I’d like it to be. You will not be sniping people but with automatic weapons shooting multiple rounds every second, that sort of matters less. But I can see why people who are fans of the shooting mechanics can be upset because of it.
And suddenly, after 15 minutes, you find yourself completing mundane and repetitive tasks to earn money and street cred, which gets old very quickly. Even when I decided to stick with just the main storyline, it was not as appealing and the missions were not as fun. Most of it just involved clearing out enemy waves or stealing vehicles. These were also essentially the entirety of side-missions. Was I just missing the space action? Probably. Was I missing the innovative challenges and fun to do boss missions which keeps you guessing and on the edge of your seat? Most definitely. The main campaign can be finished in about 15 hours and the majority of it felt like a grind. After the initial buildup, it did feel like a big disappointment to me.
I might be among the minority, but I liked the city design. Santo Ileso has been modeled after Las Vegas and has enough diversity in its aesthetics to justify the open-world concept. You get to see the orange desert-filled parts and rocky mountains on one side and another area would be a posh locality with neon blue technologically advanced surroundings. The different themes of regions was a fun thing for me to explore. The detailing was also nice as I kept running into new things all the time.
The game also uses a smartphone as the main tool the Boss relies upon to get by the city. It has the map, mission details, skills, style changes, wanted status, camera and more. It’s a quirky little addition but goes well with the modern city theme and grounds the game in realism.
Moving on, we have to talk about the characters. The main group, aka the founders of the Saints include three individuals — Eli, Kevin and Neenah. Each character possesses a unique ability that helps you out in various missions. Neenah used to be an ex-mechanic for Los Panteros who now serves as the gang’s driver. Kevin is an aspiring chef who formerly worked as DJ and as a result has multiple connections in the city. Finally, Eli is a struggling investor and business entrepreneur that plans most of the gang's operations.
For most parts, the characters are unique and are fun to interact and co-play with. But the overall characterization of each character felt a bit shallow. Neither their motivation nor their influences felt real enough to take on such a big project. However, the interactions and the character lines are absolutely hilarious and will have you laugh out loud consistently.
Finally, the AI. The NPC lines are enough to not feel repetitive and their reaction can range depending on whether they are a member of a gang, a police officer or a regular citizen. For most part the AI is consistent and intuitive. From car stealing to beating up pedestrians for pocket change, the reactions of these characters was always fun. It should be noted that in the early days of this game, a number of glitches were noted. But the company released a patch which took care of most of the issues.
I want to make one thing clear before the verdict. My experiences of the game will always have a bias towards my preference, which is a story-driven game with character progression and evolving game-mechanics to keep me engaged. However, this is not a universal standard for all gamers. We have already explained what we felt the game lacked and what we enjoyed about it. But now, the big question is should anyone buy this game?
If you have ever been a fan of early 2000s action movies like The Fast and The Furious, and you enjoy mindless action and the open-world experience in a GTA-like setting, then this game definitely has a lot to offer. Especially if you love offensive humor, it will not disappoint you. Similarly, if character bonding and fun interactions are something you like in your games, you might enjoy it.
But apart from that, this game does not deliver in terms of game mechanics or visual experience. It often felt like it was a game stuck in time and did not want to utilize the technologies available. The game had a lot of potential, but in my opinion, it was somewhat wasted. Fans of the Saints Row can give it a try although we would recommend you to wait for year-end price drop sales on Steam.
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