Monday, June 17, 2024

What Made the Saints Row Series a Blast.

( Saints Row is one of the more successful Grand Theft Auto clones to be released. The series was started in 2006 and delivered a number of features associated with GTA. Given that the series dropped years after Vice City and San Andreas, Volition had a leg up on storytelling in their first two games. Then things got out there story-wise by the third game.. Let’s look at the Saints Row series and what made it so fun.

Saints Row and the Sequel

The first two games in the series were based around the gang era of the purple-clad criminal group known as the Saints. Originally based in Stilwater, their exploits have drawn the attention of rival gangs and law enforcement. Of the two I preferred the second one as there is some tying up of loose ends with gangs from the debut title and the story just works.

Now, the first game in the series also had a good story but the follow-up really built on the lore of the Stilwater era. New people join the Saints and they all appear to be fishes out of the water. Besides the main character “The Boss”, his close friend Johnny Gat, the old head voiced by Keith David, and a young Saints hang around; the new members all existed adjacent to the gang gang lifestyle.

Gang stuff eventually came to their door and the Saints helped them deal with it and provided a home and—pretty quickly—a new family. I always felt that Saints Row 2 captured what made the series fun in the first place while providing that 3D era GTA hit which was missing after Rockstar became a little more serious about their storylines starting with GTA IV.

Prior to the HD era—starting with the PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles—GTA was a series that would get outrageous to the point of almost breaking the in-game realism. Part of the appeal of this was the dated graphics—which worked for the early 2000s.

With the HD era of GTA, the stories became a little more layered as the devs got away from the money-hoarding approach to their “American Dream by hook or by crook” stories. Volition not only said “F**k that”, it reached into Rockstar’s old bag of tricks to make the hardboiled gang drama exist alongside the comedic parts. It’s a strong mix that was strongest with SR2.

The Third and 4


Saints Row Series

Saints Row: The Third was the start of SR really outrageous. From a gameplay standpoint, this was still SR but story-wise this a different but familiar story. We still had to subjugate gangs in Steelport but the Saints were bow a corporate entity of a size where it could rival the true villain of SR2: the Ultor corporation.

They’ve got money, they’re doing movies, they have a big corporate headquarters. All it took was selling their likeness to Ultor. The Saints are open for business but end up being stranded in Steelport which is run by the Syndicate. In the second act, a military agency piles on the gang and freeze their assets. There is a progression of getting your stuff back, unifying the gangs, and taking out the military organization.

It took three games for the game to get outside of the core street gang approach of the earlier entries. However, it had to grow because where would the Saints go but up? That’s just what happened in the fourth entry as the boss becomes president. This was the peak of getting away from the gang narrative as the Saints battled aliens in a hologram of Steelport. Oh and he gets superpowers to use as well.

Again, if the series was going to continue there was only so many times the main character could steamroll gangs in large cities. If anything that would be a failure to hold turf by the Saints. It’s just that this is some wild progression: going from gang member in an ailing gang to the President of the United States.

What Made Saints Row So Much Fun?

Besides having some of the character customization I’ve seen in an open-world game—very specific—what really made this game fun is the gameplay. It was pretty arcade-y most of the time but it was perfect for the game’s direction.

The combat got better in the series as the world and possibilities opened up. Driving remained the same throughout. It was never great but it didn’t suck either—it’s open-world driving. The lore also improved but as the games went on there just seemed to be less to do in the game world. With that said, the fact that Saints Row didn’t have mandatory racing missions was always a big plus for me.

I’m not a fan of racing and having unavoidable missions always freeze games for me. The appeal to continue just torpedos to zilch.

Were you a fan of Saints Row? What did you think of the 2022 entry into the series? Also, what would you have changed about the series? Share your thoughts of in comments!

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.

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