Archive for Saints Row 4

Saints Row or Fun Trumps All

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Played & Explained with tags , , , on December 2, 2015 by Rabidgames

The throne of “modern times” open world/sandbox gaming is a heavily contested one – while GTA V has the most publicly accepted claim now, there are two more series also asking for the crown – the Just Cause series, hellbent on chaos, explosions and beautiful sceneries (although thematically a bit different), and the Saints Row series, that rose from a humble beginnings to the most outlandish and batshit gaming experience ever.

So, in case you haven’t played any of them, let’s have a look at how it all started, shall we?

Saints Row – Humble beginnings in the shadow of San Andreas

True, the first Saints Row kind of earns the title “GTA clone” – not only do you play the from rags to criminal riches story, Saints Row is also dominated by different gangs fighting for control. Even more enervating for San Andreas veterans, your gang is dressed in purple …

But it is definitely the best San Andreas clone – and the first Saints Row already added a few activities that are now trademarks of the series, e.g. the amazing Insurance Fraud where you have to throw yourself in front of racing cars to ragdoll around in a most hurtful manner to proceed, or Mayhem where you just have to rack up points by killing and/or blowing up everyone and everything – weirdly enough, the best way to get points has always been vandalising fences …

The story deserves some mention as well – in Saints Row (as well as in the next two games), you would battle three different gangs in three different story arcs – and there was always an end game with yet another story to tell!

If you wanted more San Andreas and then some, Saints Row was your game. And yes, some originality was already there, but the game and also the cliffhanger ending with a few decisive twists served mostly as a blueprint for the sandbox revolution:

Saints Row 2 – Fuck your cousin, let’s blow shit up – literally!

Remember this hilarious ad for Saints Row 2, mocking Rockstar for the less fun and mayhem yet more going bowling with your cousin approach in GTA IV:

Actually, this trailer describes Saints Row 2 perfectly – crazy missions and crazier side activities (septic trucks, streaking, being a bodyguard and brutalising people), insane depth of customisation, immature, dark and savage humour … plus, you have a story that ends up connecting all dots in a clever way (big, bad corporate crooks involved) … hell, there are some disturbing and emotional moments in there – Saints Row 2 ticked many boxes, but above all, the game wants you to have fun while playing it. While the first Saints Row copied Rockstar’s formula, part 2 refined it, added bits of insanity and scat. Yep, Saints Row 2 sat comfortably on the urban crime sandbox throne.

Another reason was the honesty of Saints Row 2 – while CJ in San Andreas was still somehow a nice guy, the protagonist was a ruthless son/daughter of a bitch, showing no mercy or regrets akin to Tommy Vercetti in Vice City. And yet despite dealing with drugs, thousands of homicides, the protagonist still was some sort of good guy compared to the corporate nightmare visions of Ultor!

Hands down, Saints Row 2 is at least one of the best games of the last generation, and perhaps the best in combining a convincing story and an urban sandbox. So yes, it is fair to say Saints Row 2 beats GTA IV in the urban crime sandbox competition! As we witnessed a few years later on, combining is the key word here!

Saints Row The Third – A few steps forward, quite a few back

Sadly, the third Saints Row couldn’t live up to its predecessor’s fame and glory. Customisation got severely crippled (no more layers, no more customisable cribs), the serious undertones vanished, the story had absolutely no depth and neither had the characters, old or new.

The missions? Fragmented, sometimes even disconnected, plus the introduction of activities counted as main missions. Yep. The big villain? Dies in the first half! Johnny motherfucking Gat? Dies off-screen in the beginning, and then that’s it. What the fuck, Volition?

Another ugly byproduct of Saints Row The Third was the abundance of shallow to useless to shameless DLC pieces of worthless junk – even advertised as “40 weeks of DLC” – paying money for cheat codes is still a bad fucking joke! Pretty much the only worthwhile minor DLC is the Shark Shotgun!

But Saints Row The Third isn’t a bad game despite all these flaws – gameplay was refined with more fluent controls and the “awesome button”, the action was more explosive, the graphics were overhauled as well, and at least weapons could be customised. And yeah, while the James Bond villain dies early on, the second half of the game develops a completely new dynamic at least, a pretext to the aliens and sci-fi in its successor!

And if you look beyond the flaws and at the fun factor – hell yeah, it is lots of fun to create havoc in this game! You have the tools – from stink bombs to airstrikes and tanks of today and tomorrow, you have the opportunities, pretty much every minute you play the Saints Row The Third is tailor made for our amusement, be it missions or the open world. From a sandbox perspective, THIS is one of the greatest – and even more so in co-op.

So yes, the game is still fun and gained a lot of new fans, but just as GTA IV was a let-down to many fans who enjoyed the size, the crude, immature humour and the general hilarities of San Andreas, the new direction of Saints Row The Third felt a bit shallow – depth was sacrificed for over-the-top action, the humour was just silly at times … But that would change soon …

Saints Row 4 – The best of virtual and virtual² worlds

How can the crazy insanities of Saints Row The Third be even crazier and more insane? By mixing in an alien invasion and the Matrix, of course! This stroke of genius solved the problem of limitations to the over-the-top approach as well as not connected story arcs in next to no time! Two birs with one stone – in Saints Row terms, it’s rather two planets with one death star!

By explaining it all (well, most) happens in virtual Steelport, everything was permitted and the over-the-top attitude culminated in a game full of super powers – including a nuke bomb from high above – the most outlandish weapons ever (black hole launchers, rectifier probes, inflato-ray guns – to name a few and leave them to your imagination), batshit-crazy missions full of easter eggs, nods (from Metal Gear Solid to Mass Effect to They Live) and Keith David as himself aka Vice President! Oh, and Johnny Gat is back  in Saints Row 4 – fuck yeah!

You even get to recruit some of the Saints’ departed antagonists as virtual homies – and they even have a back story to tell! And then there’s the most insane DLC ever – How the Saints saved Christmas is surely one of the craziest experiments in gaming ever. Plus, you can have 3 Shaundies at the same time! Enter the Dominatrix isn’t as great unfortunately, although the ending that is even crazy for Saints Row standard sis something that has to be seen to be believed! Oh, and that throne …

Now, Saints Row 4 certainly is the brawns of the series, while Saints Row 2 is the brains – but it is hard to establish which one is the heart and soul. Probably both, because they are deep yet entirely different.

What does the future hold for the Saints?

Well, no one knows. But since that’s a boring answer, chances are Volition could go for one of these three options:

  1. Time travel: In Saints Row 4, time travel is introduced, and certainly, the fusion of Assassin’s Creed and Saints Row could be mindblowing. After all, what’s left to do without the earth?
  2. A reboot: The easiest option. Let’s return to Stilwater and let’s re-visit the beginning of the Saints saga. While it worked for Tomb Raider, knowing we already know about the betrayals of Julius, Troy and Dex would mean the story would have to be completely rewritten.
  3. Wrestling Stilwater back from the Syndicate: While the Saints battle the Syndicate in Steelport, we could retake Stilwater from the Syndicate – and other gangs. Afterwards, the game could end with us getting honoured by the president …

Whatever will happen, let’s just hope the next Saints Row will live up to its big name and give us some good stories and gameplay antics. Or, as good old Johnny would describe what Saints Row is all about: “Let’s kill some shit!”

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Saints Row IV or More Insanity, More Fun?

Posted in Hands On with tags , , , on September 2, 2013 by Rabidgames

From the newbie in a small-time gang to the president of the US of Asskickers … Saints Row seems to be the embodiment of the wildest American dreams … After the first hour of Saints Row IV, you’ll have kicked a dozen terrorist butts, witnessed an alien invasion, broke free of the matrix to be cast into another matrix, and you’ve obtained super powers.

Yes, Saints Row IV, is way more insane and over-the-top than Saints Row The Third, but because of the Matrix back story, it works way better. If you have a simulation instead of the real world, there’s no need to raise an eyebrow because of illogical situations (remember attacking the weapons depot, stealing tons of weapons via helicopter and then hiding all of that within a small flat without anybody realising?), which means everything is possible – and will be done! One of the things Saints Row IV does best is making gentle fun of everything – be it The Matrix (the setting, of course), Mass Effect 3 (you have “romance options”, loyalty missions and two ridiculously stupid coloured choices at one point), Men in Black (a nice little weapon), various stealth games … oh, and the Saints Row franchise itself.

Thanks to popular demand, Shaundi is back in Saints Row IV – you know, the fun-loving dreadlock Shaundi, not her fucking yuppie self (although she’s still there, too). Then there’s Keith David, who now stars as himself – and is well aware of the fact he also voiced that traitor Julius and Captain Anderson in Mass Effect. Oh, and there are rumours Johnny Gat might be back from the dead …

So, how about the gameplay fun? Well, after the amazing set of opening missions and arriving in Stilwater, you acquire your first super powers, and Steelport is your sandbox to wreak havoc and mayhem in. Oh, and super means super in Saints Row IV – if you have a night out with three of your homies with super powers (gained via loyalty missions), no one stands a chance against your powers, which can be combined and upgraded. Well, maybe bosses can. Sadly, boss battles are nothing but wars of attrition – you have to repeat the same action over and over again, especially against shielded enemies. Also, the new system is crap: Because a Warden (an alien boss monster) appears as soon as you reach the maximum level, all-out wars are a thing of the past. If you defeat it, everything gets set to zero. Sucks.

Thanks to your super powers, cars, and to lesser degree, flying things, are now a thing of the past. Why use them if you can jump or sprint quicker? That makes car customisation basically useless. Even piloting a flying saucer is not that much quicker anymore …

Main missions are fun and vary a great deal (recruiting your friends in unique ways – wait until you see Asha’s nod to Metal Gear Solid, Deus Ex & Co., while Pierce’s involves a massive load of Saints Flow …), while side missions are confined to loyalty missions and the combination of activities coupled with a nice extra as incentive. While the annoying activities such as Escort or Snatch are thankfully out, there are now way too many platforming acitvities in Saints Row IV – and if you happen to hate platforming, like Rabidgames does, you’re not too happy with it.

To sum it up, is full price for Saints Row IV justified? Well, it’s the same world, same engine, same cars (then again, look at FIFA, the WWE games or the decade-old Call of Duty engine). On the other hand, there are refined super powers, new weapons, nice ideas and two Shaundis! At the end of the day, it’s all about fun, and there’s plenty of that to be had in Zinyak’s Steelport.

Just one thing: Do not expect anything like GTA anymore. Saints Row IV is basically a Prototype/Crackdown/Matrix/Mass Effect (and then some) love child – but no one knows who the father was … In a nutshell, it’s the Naked Gun of video games.

Rabidgames relaxes: After Saints Row The Third’s shallow, lifeless world and at times dull story, Saints Row IV strikes back with a narrative that allows illogical events and outlandish ideas. And it works perfectly fine. The characters seem to be more than the templates in the predecessor, and even the world feels more alive, mostly thanks to the added verticality.

Proof Saints Row IV IS The Better!

Posted in News with tags , , , on August 20, 2013 by Rabidgames

You know, there were people a bit disappointed with Saints Row The Third. You know, the sandbox felt empty, characters were rather dull and one-dimensional, customisation was two steps back … and there was not much to explore in Steelport. And you know, people were worried about Saints Row IV

But calm down, this video proves Saints Row is back – and it packs a punch! On release day (well, at least in NA), gamers have already found an easter egg – a rather tiny one, but hey, does size really matter:

Only time will tell what awaits us in virtual Steelport …

Rabidgames rejoices: It’s stuff like this why we used to love the Saints Row franchise. And even if it has become more outlandish and beyond-the-top, we can hope the fourth game goes back to the roots – at least some steps … But even if it all looks amazing and good, the shadow of GTA V is already looming … will Saints Row IV have the chance to withstand this giant?

Independence Day Trailer Shows More Saints Row 4 Insanity

Posted in News with tags , , on July 4, 2013 by Rabidgames

THQ, pardon, Deep Silver has released a so-called Independence Day Trailer for the upcoming over-the-top rollercoaster Saints Row 4. If you don’t mind interstellar baddies, space battles, tons of violence, some explicit swearing and German subtitles, take a look:

Rabidgames sighs: Damn it, if you want to convince yourself Saints Row 4 won’t be that great you get an awesome trailer like this! Afterwards, the tenor becomes a simple “fuck story, fuck depth, fuck characterisation … just gimme a gun to kill whatever is on the screen”. Mission accomplished, Deep Silver. You bastards!

Another Saints Row IV Trailer, Another Worry Raised

Posted in News with tags , , , , on May 9, 2013 by Rabidgames

Well, to make it short, there’s a video from PAX which highlights some of the new stuff in Saints Row IV:

Yes, monster trucks are back in Saints Row IV, and the guitaRPG looks awesome. But unfortunately, that’s about it.

Seriously, it’s too much of everything. That mess is not Saints Row anymore. Superpowers and that focus on melee stuff just looks like the bastard child of Prototype and Crackdown with a postnatal Matrix injection. And worst of all, it all seems terribly random. And really … a dubstep gun? It’s not funny anymore, and it’s not 2012 anymore.

It really seems we’ll get the Saints Row The Third expansion Enter the Dominatrix as full priced game. Great.

Rabidgames is disillusioned: Well, that doesn’t look like the Saints Row we used to love. It looks like a silly montage of reanimated slapstick humour, repeated over and over again. Saints Row IV might willingly pave the way for GTA V to reclaim the sandbox throne – without even putting up much of a fight.

New Saints Row IV Trailer Shows Some Crazy Presidential Shit

Posted in News with tags , , , on May 7, 2013 by Rabidgames

Well, we knew Saints Row IV would be crazy as chickenshit on crack. But the latest trailer shows it goes beyond insanity and back. Watch for yourself:

Well, it might still be Saints Row, although with a healthy does of Crackdown and Prototype infused, but that just seems too much.

We’ll be playing the president of the USf’nA and we’ll have super powers to kick some alien ass. Saints Row The Third made the mistake of putting crazy fucking insane shit before stuff like … gameplay, narrative or good characters.

Even the lifeblood of the Saints Row Series, freedom, took a hit; customisation was worse (less clothes, no fighting styles, the same cribs all over the place), gangs could not be tackled in whatever order we wanted to, hell, they didn’t even fight amongst each other anymore, and exploring Steelport was dull – no hidden caves, weird graveyards or pink sea bunnies anymore.

Rabidgames is sceptical: Of course, Saints Row IV will probably still be tons of fun, but the question is – what about depth? Saints Row 2 felt like Tarantino, The Third felt more like a Bay movie … if done wrong, Saints Row IV could end up like an Uwe Boll movie – rather embarassing to watch and play …

Saints Row IV and the Announcement Trailer

Posted in News with tags , , , on March 15, 2013 by Rabidgames

We’ll be able to delve deep into a world of insane action and over-the-top borderline infantile jokes with Saints Row IV on 23 August! Hooray. All hail the purple dildo!

But … wait a minute. After THQ’s demise, the Saints Row franchise got hawked to Deep Silver. Now, you might have wondered “will Volition be allowed to go ass crazy again” or will Saints Row IV be a tame, politically correct open world adventure where getting the high score means guiding old ladies across busy streets? The answer is – well, check for yourselves:

Phew. It’s still fucking crazy. Sex, drugs, violence, violence and some more violence. The good old Saints Row formula.

But … remember Saints Row The Third. Yes, it was fun. Yes, the gameplay improved vastly. But in terms of story and characters, it was incredibly shallow. Customization was ten steps back from the glorious Saints Row 2. And Steelport felt lifeless and generic. Above all, the thought of the fucking “40 weeks of DLC” still makes Rabidgames mad. Let’s hope Volition adds some depth to the Saints formula. But then again, a good portion of Saints Row IV will probably consist of the canned add-on Enter the Dominatrix, clearly designed for Saints Row The Third. Only time will tell if the same engine and the same base principles allow for a decent experience beyond mere over-the-top action and dick jokes – although there’s nothing wrong with that per se.

One more thought: Is it coincidence Saints Row IV is to be released one month shy of GTA V? Clearly, closer to GTA V would have been a bad idea, and later in the year, with the pending release of the next generation of consoles, worse idea. So maybe summer is the perfect time for Saints Row IV to be released. Let’s just hope the game is finished by then – and please Deep Silver, complete! No more 40 weeks of DLC aka thinly veiled micro-transactions which would have been unlockable rewards in Saints Row 2!

Rabidgames analyses: Saints Row The Third was fun. But it also was a victory of style over substance. Let’s hope Saints Row IV can not only win our hearts and risible muscles, but also our brains.