Saints Row: we tried it, what fun!

While waiting to get our hands on the final product we spent a few hours previewing with Saints Row (find our interview with the Saints Row developers), the new reboot chapter of the famous Volition open world saga. Armed to the teeth, with the worst criminal intentions and with that good dose of madness that has always characterized the franchise, we therefore lived the very first hours of the game as these “new” Saints, and we are ready to tell you how it went. our proof of a title that, from next August 23, promises to give all fans an adventure full of adrenaline-fueled fun.

Welcome to Santo Ileso

As already mentioned at the beginning, our hands-on led us to discover the first 3 hours of the Campaign. We were therefore unable to test the most spectacular questlines or the most advanced gameplay stages – as on the occasion of our in-depth study on that crazy open world of Saints Row following a recent hands-off.

Therefore, what we tell you today are in effect our first impressions of the title, since the incipit of the adventure allowed us to take only the first steps in the new world of Saints Row. That doesn’t mean, however, that our pad approach to hand with the game wasn’t spectacular or fun. In this new chapter, which as the title suggests is meant to be a real relaunch for the saga, it will lead us to experience a story of rise in the criminal substratum of Holy unharmed: after a short cutscene, which introduces the protagonist to a more advanced point of history (where he is probably at the height of his underworld empire), we were asked to model the features, personality and voice of our avatar. As already anticipated on our pages and channels, the Saints Row creation editor will reveal itself quite rich and exuberant. In addition to the more canonical assets, such as gender, face shape, body tone, musculature or the look in hair, beard, tattoos and scars, you can indulge yourself with different options completely over the top. Without betraying, therefore, the irreverent spirit of the series, you can modulate the volume of your chest, the size of the genitals and the width of the nipples. In the same way you can decide whether to bring underwear or – if you choose to show yourself to the world with thanks to the wind – select bizarre elements of censorship near the lower parts, for example a smile or … the emoji of an eggplant.

After a rather shocking prologue, the story takes us back some time, and catapults us into the double life of our avatar: that of a soldier on behalf ofMarshall Defense Agencywhose goal is to bring to justice the most heinous and deadly criminals of Santo Ileso, and that of rogue.

To make ends meet and make a fortune in the hot sands of the city, our character is in league with others three companions in wrongdoingwith whom he launches into robberies and scams to accumulate large sums of money. The goal is obviously to climb the criminal peaks of the place and make a name for himself in the environment, and given what happens in the prologue we can deduce that he will succeed. In the following two hours we alternated this type of assignments, with a decidedly more urban and light-hearted soul, with the missions on behalf of Marshall, which instead turned out to be more complex and spectacularbut nevertheless no less whimsical.

According to what has already been written in the past, the Volition team has guaranteed just over 30 missions (including main ones, mostly, and secondary ones) that will make up the Saints Row Campaign, for an approach that apparently tends to prefer quality over quantity. For the moment, while waiting to be able to evaluate the entire narrative sector and the variety of all the contents proposed by the game, we would like to confirm this declaration at the outset: the few chapters dedicated to History that we have played have entertained us properly, and in some cases they were accompanied by a good staging.

Compared to the pranks of our avatar and his companions, however, it is the activities on behalf of Marshall that have put us in front of the most engaging sequences: between sorties in enemy lairs and daring shootingsup to car chases in the desert worthy of Mad Max, our feeling is that the narrative component will have a really important weight for the overall experience, also thanks to an open world that in its most classic phases does not differ one iota from the trappings of past generations.

Rogue life

However, the world of Saints Row remains very fascinating. The Santo Ileso set up by the development team is a scenario of sand, rust and blooda modern Far West with exquisitely retrofuturist colors that gave us rather pleasant landscapes to behold, while reminding us (at times too much) of the Los Santos of Grand Theft Auto V.

Also thanks to a script that seems to want to keep a more realistic tone compared to the latest iterations, this Saints Row is more than ever inspired by the most recent chapter of GTA and in general by the entire Rockstar franchise, now in the plot twists, now in the infrastructure of its open world, and sometimes in the management of the progression and optional items. We are therefore talking about a rather obvious sandbox in the conduct of free roaming, during which it is possible to intersperse the main quest with the so-called Chores. It is a handful of secondary missions, scattered throughout Santo Ileso, which consist in putting into practice what was done during the Campaign on behalf of other clients. Scattered around the sunny town and its wide canyons, moreover, there are various points of interest in which to accumulate collectibles or information on the surrounding landscape, elements that however stand as mere fillers during the exploratory phases. Another mechanic recovered from the Saints Row congeners is the use of the telephone to open a contextual menu, from which it is possible to access various game features. Through the smartphone you can select the tasks of the Campaign or set the Chores to be completed, as well monitor the Challenges and above all manage a hint of role-playing component linked to the abilities of our character.

Given the limited time available in this hands-on, we have not had the opportunity to discover all the unlockable skills for good, nor have we been able to test their use in battle. Suffice it to say, however, that adding them to the skill wheel not a little enriches the combat system: during our run, for example, we got an attack that allows us to grab the opponent, stick a grenade in his pants and throw it forward, so as to trigger violent explosions that can also hit other enemies.

This kind of irreverence is reflected in the whole gameplay of Saints Row: during the fights, for example, it is possible to engage in hand-to-hand clashes if you have run out of ammunition. Physically colliding with enemy hordes also guarantees two substantial advantages: eliminate the opponent on duty with a single move and recharge your health. Precisely for this reason the melee phase does not constitute the fulcrum of the playful dough: in order to engage this melee sequence it is necessary that the enemies are about to hit you, lighting up in purple. By doing so, after pressing the appropriate button, particularly imaginative kills are activated, made of exuberant choreography and pleasant animations.

In its action soul, Saints Row seemed to us a rather classic third-person shooter. The gunplay it doesn’t look particularly refinedbut it is functional and guarantees a good variety of guns. However, it must be specified that the feeling with the weapons at our disposal was not memorable, as well as the dynamics related to aiming and headshots (all too easy, for our tastes). Overall, however, shootings and fights have been able to have enough fun, fully embodying the profoundly goliardic and “tamarra” soul of the franchise.

An atmosphere that is fully breathed even (and perhaps above all) in the phases behind the wheel: in this sense, the impression is that Volition has worked for better finish the segments dedicated to drivingand we must admit that the feeling with the vehicles seems more satisfying than ever. Despite having improved the grip of the wheels on the road, however, expect a completely simulative approach from car and motorcycle crossings. The arcade and confusing soul of the production emerges entirely during the chases with the police or criminals: the command used to drift allows you to embrace the curves with all the impetuousness possible, and triggering the appropriate button while approaching a half enemy produces gods violent blows from the side. In short, whether on foot or aboard a vehicle, the wild and totally over the top tones of Saints Row will guarantee you hours of unbridled fun and adrenaline, often transforming the adventure into a jumble of explosions, flying cars and creative kills.

Ultimately we mention artificial intelligence, which as it is reasonable to expect remains deeply anchored to the trappings of an old generation open world. While aware that we are not facing the definitive version of the game, the behavior of the AI ‚Äč‚Äčlinked to enemies at times it has left us dumbfounded.

In fact, in the most agitated phases of the Campaign, the movement patterns of the opponents turned out to be quite predictable and linear; in the combat segments within the open world, on the other hand, on a couple of occasions the NPCs have deviated too much from the battlefield, positioning themselves in areas inaccessible to us for the purpose of completing the mission. We hope that flaws do not tend to repeat themselves too often in the final product, from which – in this sense – we hope for a greater refinement.