This past week I've been spending a lot of time with the new Saints Row reboot released on August 23. As a fan of the series, I won't say I was excited when I saw the trailers dropping, but I was at least willing to give it a try. The question is, was it worth the purchase?
Well, not that you care about my opinion, nor should you, you should make up your own mind, but here are my thoughts so far.
The Look And Feel
The Saints Row reboot gets the look and feel of the game right. It plays like I expected, and visually, the exteriors look good. It feels like a Saints Row game, at least as far as controls go.
It falters greatly in bringing the heart and soul of the series, but to the developer's credit, they made no bones about the fact that they weren't here to deliver the game fans were accustomed to. That's fine. At least they were honest about it up front, and didn't pull a bait and switch. Still, I can understand why this would turn off the core audience of the series, and quite honestly, I was almost among them.
Let's just say it's not for me. Bring down the man, establishments, and wealth. It's the siren call of Twitter dwellers, and the audience the developers are clearly looking for.
While I understand that a lot of people find the dialog cringe worthy, and as a result of its "woke" nature, opted not to buy the game, I was able to get through this. Ever since Saints Row 2, I've always made it a point to create a character based on The Joker, and having him give the dialog actually made it easier to get through because I just chalked him up to being dumb, and as a result, having dumb henchmen.
The humor aspect is missing from the game in a big way. The vibe that made Saints Row what it was is gone. I know I said above that the developers made no bones about this. However, the biggest loss for me is that the developers of the prior games made it a point to fight against the stigma of simply being a GTA clone, and this installment is nothing more than that.
Sprawling Empty World
There is no doubt that the map is large, with several streets and alleys to explore. However, there was one very noticeable aspect missing from my time with the game. Numerous instances I would drive down multiple streets that were void of both cars and people. Where is everyone?
Rival gang members and police are few and far between, making it rather cumbersome to get into a "good" fight. Be it a one star or four star notoriety level with my enemies, often times nobody would give chase. or show up in general to defend the honor of their fallen companions. It was if they simply weren't interested in me or my activities of murder.
The world just felt empty, and as a result, boring.
Unique Stores With Nothing To Buy
One of the things that prior Saints Row games prided themselves on was customization. While the 2022 iteration nails this aspect for your overall character design, it falters greatly in the shopping experience. Where prior games offered a store on almost every corner, with a plethora of themed shopping options, this new iteration spreads stores out so sparsely that driving to them becomes a chore. Further, once arriving at said store, options are so minimal, it's barely worth the trip.
Where prior installments offered an array of options mixed in with unique costumes, both meant to add comedy and an element of risque, this new game limps across the finish line. While I found one or two pieces here and there, such as a barbecue wizarding hat, and ice cream costume, that was as eccentric as it got. It was incredibly disappointing, and this was the moment I felt like the life of this franchise had been ripped out.
Quite frankly, with how few shops there actually are, the map could have been condensed to a much smaller radius. Additionally, because they offer so little, you'll pretty much buy everything in each shop your first visit, making them useless locations quite quickly. This is a far cry from prior games where buying everything was not something you could feasibly do for a long time, due to the volume of options available.
No Unique Interiors
Prior games encouraged exploration because you never knew if you would find a unique location with an interior to investigate. I still remember my first time entering Stillwater Caverns in Saints Row 2. It was awe inspiring.
With the exception of shop interiors, I have found no such places to explore in 2022's reboot, nor do I think I'm going to after my futile searches on Google for signs that anyone found anything. This is a completely missed opportunity.
Where Are The Unique Weapons?
Okay, I get it. The developers of the reboot didn't want to add sexually oriented weaponry to the game, and that's fine. However, what they've done is ripped out every aspect of conceptually interesting weapons, and left in their wake bland firearms and common melee weapons. It's quite frankly boring to its very core. After buying a magnum and sawed off shotgun, I simply stopped visiting the weapon shop because I didn't care about any of the other combat options.
Vehicle Options Are Plentiful, But...
One thing you will find in Saints Row is a slew of vehicles to chose from, all of which you can pick and choose to store in your garage and customize.
Change the paint color, add new rims, tires, and a vast amount of other upgrades to your car to make it just the way you want it. Like the character build, customization of vehicles is on point, and a lot of fun to play with.
Sounds great, yes? Well, no. This has, and appears will always be one of my problems with the franchise. A game that offers so many vehicles, and then caps your storage space annoys me. I want to collect every single car, and making it so that I can't makes me loose interest in vehicles in general.
What makes this aspect worse in the reboot is that every car has a special ability that can be unlocked. However, I'm not going to waste my time hunting each vehicle down, and complete the task to unlock this aspect, if ultimately I can't keep the vehicle in my garage. I'm certainly not going to waste the in game currency on customizing them.
Instead, I'm going to find the fastest car, the fastest motorcycle, and be done. All my other vehicles will comprise of the special unlocks I get from completing missions and side tasks.
Mind you, that's just the land vehicles. Water and air vehicles are a whole other point of contention in the reboot. Air and sea vehicles are minimum, at best. For that matter, where the heck is the airport? Prior games offered you the ability to buy a hanger at an airport, and a dock off the water where you could store a vast array of helicopters, planes, boats, and other sea craft. 2022's game does not. In fact, there are no planes at all.
Activities, Missions, and Collectibles
There are no shortages of missions, activities, and hidden collectibles to find in the game. As someone who prefers to handle all side business before tackling the story, I am thoroughly happy with this aspect. With exception of a handful of story missions, this is mainly where my focus has been, and I've yet to run out of things to do.
There is a lot of content here, and in that regard, there is value to be had. If you focus on everything, you're not going to complete this game in a few hours. In fact, the game encourages you to take your time, and essentially do what you want to do.
Saints Row 2022 offers a progression systems which has a max level of 20. Whereas in prior installments maxing this out would see you reaching a God like status with infinite health and ammunition, the reboot does not.
As such, while you can progress to a higher level, I honestly never felt like doing so achieved anything useful or important. Sure, my health bar increased, and I got more flow. However, what I really wanted, and expected, was to become untouchable.
I know a lot of gamers don't like it when their character is overpowered. I'm the opposite. If I am going to put in the time, I feel that the reward should be to mow over everything in your path. Glitches and Bugs
I could forgive a lot of the misses of Saints Row 2022 if the game itself wasn't so buggy. Glitched animations, screen popping, and online multiplayer which is sporadic at best when joining or being joined flat out ruin the gaming experience.
I can't even tell you at this point how many cars I've had to abandon because I simply couldn't get in them anymore, or finisher moves that glitched out in some form or fashion. Don't even get me started on how many times I've had to accept the online terms and send multiple invites to initiate a co-op game.
This is by far my biggest gripe with the game, and it only annoys me more when the developers seem to have their attention focused on attacking people for not buying the game for (insert your favorite "ist" or "phobe" here). How about you get off Twitter, and get back to work on fixing the game for those of us who did shell out sixty dollars?
Saints Row 2022 was not ready for release, and quite frankly, it shouldn't have been in this state.
Saints Row 2022 feels like Saints Row, but is so stripped of the things that made the franchise what it was, that it truly is just a GTA clone. It's disappointing that in removing all the risque items from the game that the developers felt inclined to devoid the game of any form of humorous weaponry or unique clothing. Had they embraced this in any manner, I can't help but feel the game would have been better received. You can still fight the establishment while firing a toaster rifle that utilizes waffle ammo.
More importantly, and like I said above, the game wasn't ready for release in its current state. All forgiveness could be given for the developer's directional choices or the overall story and in game content had the game simply worked the way it should have. In its present state, it is not worth $60.00.
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