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The new Saints Row looks like just the right level of silly - so now I’m interested

After its reveal, my interest in the new Saints Row has flipped 180 - and now I can’t wait to give it a shot.

I’ll be honest - when I heard that a Saints Row reboot was on the cards, I really wasn’t interested. After this reveal, however, my opinion has completely flipped - and it’s now one of my most anticipated games of next year.

I have to confess that Saints Row lost me a little the longer it went on. There’s a level of ludicrous I can take, and am interested in - but once the Saints started doing battle with aliens and really embracing the out-there side of the series, that’s when I mentally checked out of their adventures.

I was thrilled, then, to see that this Saints Row is a little more stripped-back. A little more basic - and yet, still utterly ridiculous. I’ve seen some disappointed reactions on social media, as if this is a neutered Saints Row - but we shouldn’t forget that even in the second entry - for me the series high-point - had things like a string of missions called the ‘Septic Avenger’, where you sprayed unsuspecting victims with shit to “earn cash and respect”. There was a level of silliness there - it just stopped short of aliens.

Anyway, based on the reveal trailer, a tiny snippet of gameplay, and a little more in-game footage shown to the press, it’s clear that this Saints Row reboot is far from serious - it’s just getting rid of the extraterrestrial skirmishes and superman flying. This, I feel, is really for the best.

I realize some elements of that trailer have left some series veterans cold, but from a broad content perspective, this is exactly what I wanted.

In my mind, I view Saints Row as a sort of successor to GTA: San Andreas. With the 360 & PS3 generation, GTA had a subtle tonal change for its fourth and fifth entries - while still firmly tongue-in-cheek, it feels like Rockstar did begin to take itself a little more seriously. Saints Row therefore felt like a continuation of San Andreas’ ideas - that kitchen-sink approach to design in both gameplay and story terms - where within the very broad constraints of the setting, quite literally anything goes. Make it big. Make it dumb.

The natural conclusion of this design was, in a sense, what we ended up with in Saints Row 4, which blended stuff like Crackdown super-jumping and the like into the mix. With that said, I’m glad to return to a slightly more grounded gangster fantasy, where the barometer for silliness is probably spraying people with excrement and doing the sort of unlikely stunts you see in a Fast and Furious movie.

People might miss the established characters and settings - but in every other way, from the focus on building an empire and fighting turf wars to new setting Santo Ileso, which seems closer to Stillwater, the game feels like a return to the focus of the earlier entries - and I’m here for that. I’m crossing everything that it ends up being as good as the second game.

About the Author
Alex Donaldson avatar

Alex Donaldson

Assistant Editor

Alex started out his career in the games media as an over-eager kid working on fan sites, and now has decades of experience. He's the resident expert on esoteric matters such as Pokemon Go, gaming hardware, and genres like RPGs, fighters, and strategy games. Outside of VG247 he's the co-founder of genre-dedicated website RPG Site. He also collects original arcade machines, Lego, and considers himself a whisky buff.

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