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.