We tried Saints Row, the reboot of the crazy Volition series

The new Saints Row is on the home straight, and we have been testing it for a few hours. Will it be a throwback, or once again a completely crazy game? Here is the answer.

We believe that having some fundamentals on the Saints Row series is quite important to understand its evolution over the years, so it is appropriate to start our discussion from its dawn. The saga of Will was born in 2006 as an open world action focused on gang fighting; immediately aims to be an excessive and scarcely realistic experience, but conquers a decent fanbase of fans with its memorable characters and its world. Just a small problem: in that field the king is a little game called Grand Theft Auto, such an “invincible monster” that it forces the Volition to a sharp change of course (possibly able to take their brand away from Rockstar’s works). The chosen path? That of absolute madness: Saints Row becomes a series with aliens, action scenes completely devoid of the slightest realism, very dangerous purple rubber dildos and every kind of amenity conceivable by the human mind.

The plan works, the last few chapters become moderate commercial successes and take a slice of the public beyond expectations. Too bad that, almost completely abandoning its roots, the game loses charm in the eyes of many of its original fans and that over time even a good part of its “fresh” fanbase begins to want to see a few steps back from the developers, perhaps in a more refined and realistic title.

It is probably also for this reason that, when Agents of Mayhem comes out, the title sells below expectations: it is always a spin off of Saints, but the change of “class” structure combined with the new name leads many players to ignore it. The trend almost identical to that seen in the fourth chapter, then, also makes that part of the community lose hope that wanted to see an evolution in the saga, becoming a heavy nail on the coffin of the series.

But now Volition has decided to try again and tries again with a reboot. We have tried Saints Row for a few hours and today we can finally tell you how Volition has tried to revive his little boy. A clue: they have not followed the path of subtlety and drama … not even remotely.

The cake boss

Saints Row: Santo Ileso is a den of crime, but still has some respectable views

The new Saints Row puts you once again in the shoes of the “head“, albeit with a substantial difference: the Saints gang has not yet formed and you are just a half-criminal trying to make a living in the brutal city of Santo Ileso, working as a mercenary for a private army called Marshall and carrying out small robberies. in the company of your roommates. The first few bars are interesting, especially because Santo Ileso seems to be a place where legality is not even considered and all your fellow raiders are an integral part of various gangs that control the metropolis. It is a cocktail. explosive of events, which in fact does not take long to overturn, setting everything on fire.

Told in this way, the story of the game might seem like a return to the more “serious” roots of the series, however it takes very little to understand how things really are. In fact, since the introduction, your alter ego proves to be able to survive events that could raze an entire neighborhood, as well as demonstrate a natural talent in carnage. The realism in this game is not really at home in short, even if it must be said that at least the aliens, superpowers and virtual worlds have disappeared from the equation. To give you a crystal clear example of the overall impact, think about the series Fast & Furious: here, let’s say that the comparison between this Saints Row and the first chapter is comparable to that between the first film of that saga and the last ones. We’ve gone from old-fashioned shootings to battles on jets and moving trains, with cars that defy every law of physics and characters able to escape unscathed from a hail of bullets. ‘Murica.

The team therefore did not want to abandon the exaggerations of the last few chapters, but lowered the nonsense gear slightly in the main storyline to try to groped back to historical fans. We doubt that this will welcome the game with open arms indeed, but we are not opposed to the choice of the Volition, because if nothing else you find them crazy about certain missions they have given us more than a sound grin. After all, there is no shortage of successful jokes and the caricatured game world is a great stage to have fun without too many thoughts. The problems, unfortunately, arise when you go to analyze the rest.

Worms of mass destruction

Saints Row: Does this seem like an excessive confrontation?  you haven't seen anything

Saints Row: Does this seem like an excessive confrontation? you haven’t seen anything

Now, we want to get our hands on and clarify that, despite the release of the title, the demos we tested during the preview events are often rather backward versions and therefore in general more unstable than the finished product. That said, the new Saints Row really turned out to be rougher than expected, both from a systems and a technical point of view. The game for its part it seems to be a decent evolution compared to that of Saints Row 4: the super powers have been replaced by a basic character progression that allows you to use very useful special abilities – placing explosive mines in combat, throwing enemies with a grenade in their underwear , etc … – and conveniently usable in battle between one riddled and the next. THE enemiesfor their part, they are more reactive and diversified, and some of them have armor that prevents immediate elimination, forcing you to intelligently calculate which targets to focus on during shootings (it’s a pity that the “sponge” effect is boring when they are too numerous). Even vehicle battles are more interesting, thanks to sudden doors and the ability to shoot from vehicle roofs. The problem is that these system improvements are part … well of a system that has generally deteriorated in base mechanics.

We have indeed found it shot more inaccurate than we expected (moreover with a very annoying tendency to miss the target at close range due to a strange management of the impact areas of firearms), the movement a little too crude, and the artificial intelligence too much prone to idiotic behavior despite improvements in general reactivity.

Saints Row: The Idols are one of the city gangs.  They have tastes

Saints Row: The Idols are one of the city gangs. They have “particular” tastes in clothing

For the record, all these shortcomings are if only dampened by the excesses of the game: this Saints Row has a decent variety of missions and in addition to the main ones – predictably the most absurd and interesting – there is no lack of deliveries with escapes from the police, races in flight armed with a planing suit, and even ridiculous insurance frauds in which the player’s plan is literally to be run over by as many cars as possible by creating a road disaster. That’s a nice range of options, mostly plagued by general technical instability.

During our all in all short (for an open world) test we in fact encountered a myriad of insectand not even negligible: permanently jammed weapons or “jammed characters” that guaranteed our elimination during heated clashes; died from the crazed physics that hurled our vehicle into space after lightly touching a rock; and a whole host of other annoyances that we have often observed in this overly ambitious genre, but never with such frequency. We sincerely hope that these issues will be fixed soon, because, although the gameplay is not exactly a masterpiece, the general caciaronaggine still amused us during the test, and we believe it has its own scope if appreciated without stumbling.

Be your own calamity

Saints Row: ok, this is already a fight closer to our expectations

Saints Row: ok, this is already a fight closer to our expectations

The shortcomings highlighted above could suggest a game unable to really stand out from the crowd, yet the new Saints Row has other meat on the fire that could at least guarantee a fun experience for those who do not have great needs in terms of gameplay. In fact, the last work of Volition embraces the absolute customization as much as his excesses and, in addition to offering a very complete editor of his protagonist, he has the possibility of modifying in detail every usable weapon and every vehicle in a comfortable garage (which is unlocked in one of the first missions in history). She is a valuable gem, which also joins some of the management elements linked to your gang, since it seems it is possible to buy activities for the whole city, and unlock specific missions linked to each of them to create a real criminal empire. Consider that there are even some collectibles with which to customize your headquarters (an abandoned church, rightly so), and we would not be surprised if even your companions were somehow modifiable in the look during the adventure.

Saints Row: exploring by car isn't the only way

Saints Row: exploring by car isn’t the only way

This emphasis on customization is a not inconsiderable quality in such an open world. It adds personality to the whole and, if combined with interesting enough activities, it could raise the quality of the campaign. Too bad our test didn’t last long enough to thoroughly test our role as boss.

If nothing else, it is confirmed once again the cooperativehowever, an element always appreciated by many in Saints Row, and it should be possible to obtain extra passive skills by completing various objectives during the game, for an additional personal touch to the experience. Overall, therefore, the last work of Volition gives the impression of having a sea of ​​contents, and this critical mass could also be the reason for the poor general finishing.

The new Saints Row seemed to us very unfinished, and its technical problems are undoubtedly worrying with so little time before the release. Overall, however, the Volition game seems able to maintain the excesses and exaggerations that have made the last few chapters hilarious, albeit with a less absurd base narrative. Variety and fun in this mix of madness is not lacking despite the problems, and the extreme customization combined with the management elements could represent a surprise and raise the quality of the experience. Well, whatever happens, we will find out the real value of the title shortly.

CERTAINTIES

  • Caciarone, exaggerated, and at times hilarious
  • Extreme customization
  • Numerous and varied contents

DOUBTS

  • Too crude gameplay, especially the shooting
  • Technically far from exceptional, and riddled with bugs