Saints Row REVIEW (PS5)
''ROW. ROW. ROW, YOUR BOAT''
Developed: Deep Silver Volition/Fishlabs
Published: Deep Silver
Genre: Open World Sandbox
Release Date: Aug 23rd, 2022
Platforms: PS4/PS5/Xbox Family/STEAM/Stadia
*Review copy provided to me by Deep Silver*
Deep Silver Creator Collective
''Its all about family''
Saints Row 2022 is a reboot of a classic franchise from 2006 and our first mainline entry into the franchise since Saints Row 4 in 2013. Developed by Deep Silver Volition and FishLabs and published by Deep Silver, the developers aim to bring the dormant franchise back into the spotlight once again with its crazy and whacky antics. But do they succeed in giving us a great time or is this one reboot that we really didn't need? Only one way to find out, so lets go!
What if Hank in Breaking Bad went Number One instead of Number 2 and Walter White was never discovered? Well here in Saints Row, all those questions are answered. Shortly after the events of Walters meeting with Gus, the arrangement and agreement they had was broken. ''No harm'' was to come to Pinkman, Walter needed him to cook, however, Gus didn't trust Pinkman and instead hired a hit to kill him, to get him out of the picture. Realizing Walter would take offense to this, before things escalated any further, Gus backstabs Walter and attempts to bury him alive. But unknown to Gus and his goons, Walter IS the danger and now with revenge set on his mind for not only himself and his family, but also Pinkman, Walter White vows to take down Gus's chicken empire, by any means necessary, by forming a new crew called The Saints, bolstering his strength, using his intelligence.. it will all come at a cost. But its a price he's willing to pay, even if it means having to go through Fring's new allies, The Idols and The Panteros. It is finally time to truly see, if he IS the one that knocks.
What? that's not the story? I mean it kind of is. I literally gave you the plot to the actual Saints Row game but linked it with Breaking Bad. You have yourself starting a crew, check, naming it The Saints, check, compete against rival games The Panteros and The Idols, check, get betrayed by an unknown entity that is saved for reveal in the later part of the game, check. See? told you. So because we already started our Breaking Bad narrative, we will continue to tell the story throughout this review in that same fashion and sticking to the theme we've already established. But of course, we will go over everything and anything regarding the game play, extra content, its plus sides, negative sides and everything in between that jumps into our head. So lets hop into this controversial title and see if it is as bad as the gaming community are currently whining about at the moment.. because lets be honest, they do tend to embellish and overreact from time to time. However to be fair, I will say some of their gripes are legit, but not all. You'll see what I'm talking about in a minute, don't worry. For now lets jump into the game play so you can see how this title actually plays.
Upon starting your game, you're thrown into a role of a solider recruit who is on their first mission with the tech and security group known as The Marshalls. it is here where you immediately see how over top and nuts this title is going to be going forward and stays lock in step to the action and chaotic gameplay you knew from Saints Row 3 and 4. Gun play has remained relatively the same with L2 being your aiming, R2 shooting, L1 weapon wheel, R1 to bring up your special abilities mapped to your face buttons that we will get into shortly, R3 to melee kick and Circle to roll away from danger. Like I said, very basic, but it completes its purpose. Running and shooting your way through massive waves of enemies in an old western style town is a really good tutorial for you as a player to get into some really funny hijinks like seeing a body on the floor with rag doll effects and trying to kick it out of the way, being immature like me and seeing a cowboy cutout and throwing a thing of C4 on his crotch and being like ''You don't have the balls'' and then responding to yourself, who was just in character as a cowboy, by blowing up his crotch with a big explosion. Yeah I know. I'm not exactly the measuring stick for maturity, but who cares, this game isn't serious, so I won't be either. You cant make me! - ahem - as I was saying. This game is over top to the point of insanity, but also sort of to the point of cringe too in a way. What I mean by this is, sure, you have amazing set pieces like jumping from car to car as they explode in a shootout, hanging onto jet planes as you stop an enemy from fleeing, those are cool, but you also have dialogue that takes place after a funny scene of you being ordered to steal a codex, failing, getting fired, being told off, and then your character just randomly starts cussing on their way home in just bouts of obscenities for no reason at all. It comes off as very try hard. Don't get me wrong, the premise of you taking on these death defying adventures in a dust storm over freaking rent money is funny, and even watching your character wallow in their own grief from being fired and having nothing go right for them with waffles shooting out of the toaster, which is hilarious, but there are times when that humor borderline falls in line with something you'd expect from a really really cringe TikTok video. Just saying, its hit or miss, not all bad, but not all winners. I however did laugh more than I rolled my eyes, so that's a dub, I guess?
Back to what we were talking about though, much like in previous Saints Row titles, you will be tasked to create your own Boss, who'm you will use throughout your playthrough in a rags to riches type of story that has you taking The Saints from a lowly gang to a massive empire. Customize your character with a pretty decent range of character models, facial and body settings, hair, clothes, hats, etc, nothing revolutionary, but nothing bad, its your typical character creation feature. as I hinted at before, I chose to play as Walter White and my entire playthrough I imagined it as a ''What If'' scenario to Breaking Bad and it ultimately made my experience go from a good time to an extremely silly time. After Walt was fired by Gus and left for dead, he goes on a mission to recruit a new group who can not only take on Gus's empire itself but also his goons that stand in your way, who have control of sections of city, like rival food chain gangs like The Idols and The Panteros. Joining up with his new cooking crew of Eli, Neenah and Kevin, they begin formulating ideas on how to expand what they have, and strengthen their ranks for the fight that's to come. These ideas include starting a social link to recruit new members by going to an island known as Murder Circus and competing in a death brawl to impress new recruits. Normally Walter wound find this ridiculous, slapping around furries? He's too proud for that, but Gus's betrayal and murder of Pinkman has set him over the edge, so yes, he WILL slap them furries and become victorious. Also, using his intelligence to his advantage, with having been around people like Tuco Salamanca, he knew some things about using a firearm or two and takes it upon himself to once again become a teacher, not of the science variety, but of the firearm variety, and shows this young generation just who he is. Heisenberg? You're god damn right.
Once Walter has assembled his crew and built The Saints, it is now time for him and you as the player, to take on the city itself and explore the aspects of this title that are its bread and butter, the open world exploration. Oh man, there's so much to do in this open world this go around, so much in fact that it can feel a little daunting. Granted, not all of the activities you take part in are winners, but the bulk of it is ,overall. When driving around the city in cars, motorcycles, helicopters, etc, you will notice that you're able to get to one place to another in a relatively short fashion. Why is that? well honestly, to me, the map feels much smaller than previous entries into the series, I'd say its the smallest map size since the original two titles. Don't get me wrong, that's not a total negative, sometimes bigger is not better, but it kind of feels like enemy territories are right on top of each other at certain times, so it kind of feels a little bit... uhh... disjointed? that's the word I'm looking for I think. When exploring this massive open world, you can take part in activities such as stealing Gus's chicken empire trucks in order to disrupt his business via a side mission venture, take out your camera and snap pictures of any beautiful scenery you happen to like, damage cars with your fists and kicks like its a freakin Street Fighter 2 mini game, run around the city to annoy NPC civilians and see a woman with a hamburger and realize that during the making of this review, you're hungry, so you approach her to take the burger from her, but she wont give it to you, so you get angry and yell ''What? you won't give me your Burger King? FINE. Have it YOUR WAY'' and then proceed to kill her and take it. Good times. But that's not all there is to the game, far from it, because you also have a level up systems, complete with perks, skills and upgrades that will not only add different ways to play, but boost your character strength and overall customization.
As you're screwing around with the cities inhabitants by angering them, laughing at them as you jump on a roof a car as the civilian and police swarm you while you throw a proximity mine to blow them all to bits and pieces, you're able to get experience points for every main mission, side venture or extra content you complete. Getting enough experience points will offer you a chance to gain more skills and perks, which like I said previously, offer you new buffs or even new attacks, depending on what you choose to equip at that particular time. Based on how much you grind and earn in this title, you can gain upwards to 20 different skills, all of which can be mapped on the facial buttons of Square, Triangle, Circle or X. By pressing R1 and a facial button, you can perform skills such as grabbing an enemy, putting a grenade down their pants and throwing them like a rag doll making them explode, which is funny as all heck - you may also throw proximity mines, use smoke bombs to blind your enemies, which allows you to take cover, or even straight up Falcon Punch people to hell and back with a fire punch. But don't get too excited because these are only able to be used if you have at least one FLOW diamond built up, otherwise it wont work. Much like your melee meter, which allows you to do a cinematic kill shot all on your enemies after its meter has been built up, FLOW Diamond is able to be re-fueled over time or by the amount of damage and kills you rack up, the more you play. Besides blowing crap up, dragging people around with a tow cable while they're in a porta potty because they won't tell you about your friend, exploring the city and seeing giant dinosaur monuments and thinking to yourself ''woah, I wonder if Pee Wee Herman is around here getting chased again'', high speed running from enemy food chains bosses that are seeking to kill Walter White and watching them suck as bad as I do at driving and seeing them fly off the road out of control into a pole on the freeway and explode and... wait.. what?. Yes yes, even besides those ways of expanding your character, you're able to take part in a plethora amount of missions, some ranging from action packed missions like robbing a Yacht and completely botching my landing and exploding and dying.. because.. of course - and even down to silly missions like your friend wanting a toy that's in a happy meal because he never had one as a kid, however a rival gang steals all the burger joints stock of them and Walter White knows what that is like, to have EVERTHING taken from him, his best friend Pinkman dead, his wife Skyler despises him, his son Walter Junior is terrified of him and NEVER being able to get back that $30 he spent on Pizza that can STILL be seen TILL THIS DAY on the roof of his house if you search it on Google Earth. No no. Gus has gone too far this time. Kevin WILL have his happy meal toy and whoever stands in his way, will suffer. Its just a prank bro? you're done? NO. Were done, when ''I'' say WERE DONE. Umm yes, silly missions like that. That doesn't even include the extra content on top of this. Which we will get into in our extra stuff section shortly. But first I wanna dive back into the story first.
Now that The Saints are at full strength with Walt and the rest of his crew being prepped and ready, its time to take down everyone that has wronged you. One by one, The Panteros, The Idols, and even henchmen of Tuco Salamanca himself, The Nahualli, falls to Walter White. But he knows that even if he kills all of Fring's men, he has so much money that he can hire as many new bodies as he wants. So where do you attack your enemy that has that type of power? their bank account. Using his connections from his time spent working on Fring's projects, Walter uses his influence and intimidation as Heisenberg to be granted a meeting with the largest food chains in the business who are competition to Fring. They would like nothing more than to see him fall. However before you ink the deal, you're arrested thanks to Fring pulling strings in the DA. Hank tries to get you out, but to no avail. Luckily for you, you already know a good lawyer who can get you out in no time at all, a wild card ace up your sleeve that Fring never knew about. What do you do when you're in this much trouble? simple, you Better Caul Saul. Using your one phone call to call up Saul, and exchange prices, he works his magic and boom, you're free. Giving a thanks in the form of a large sum of money to Saul for his efforts and a twinkie for Huell, because you know, Better Fuel Huell, you join back up with The Saints, kill the messenger who delivered your arrest warrant, rob Gus's personal investment banks, and raid Fring's chicken enterprise in one last rush of vindication and revenge for all the pain he has caused you. Ultimately ending up victorious, Walter White can finally rest in peace, continue cooking at 99.1% purity and enjoy his new empire he has built and live on for the sake of Pinkman and everyone else he has lost throughout the years. Thus bringing an end to the TRUE ending of Breaking Bad.. I mean Saints Row.
So you finish the main storyline, got your closure and think there's nothing else to do? wrong, bucko. The main storyline, which lasts anywhere from 15 to 16 hours, depending on what difficulty you play on, is just the tip of the iceberg compared to what awaits you. Much like leveling up and activating new skills was a thing to do, so to is unlocking character perks. When leveling up, you will be able to use your in game money that you have saved up from your empire growth via your Cash App that tracks your hourly income, to purchase perk slots and use permanent perks such as being able to run faster when near death, shoot from the hip more accurately, never lose FLOW diamond except when you use a skill, collect more rounds when picking up ammo, etc. All of these are locked behind three main categories, Minor, Major and Elite, with the Elite category costing upwards to 250,000 dollars to unlock. Holy crap, that's nearly as much as some people make with OnlyFans, pretty crazy. Don't worry though, even if you aren't as successful as people on OnlyFans making a living, you too can still be rich. How? simple, by taking on extra content that includes Side Hustles, The Wanted App, Empire Board, Character bonding missions and find collectibles to decorate your Saint church. Your Side Hustles are missions not linked to your main storyline, like bonding with your friends Eli, Kevin and Neenah and taking on specific missions for them, such as LARPing with Eli and being involved in a fictional game of tower defense role play, or stealing artwork from peoples homes for Neenah and literally dragging gigantic metal apples and other objects back home to your Church. But that's not the end of it either.
Even apart from the half a dozen character related missions, you can also help people in trouble, like for instance , killing someone in police custody before they have a chance to snitch, kill a go-kart racer for a client who wants to win the championship herself, and also take on hits using the Wanted App. This is probably one of the better side ventures to get into because they're either really serious or really stupid. One minute you're a hired freelance assassin taking out an important gang leader and the next you're literally hired to take out a bunch of Furries. Seriously whats up with the furries man, that's like two to three times in the game that you beat them up. Someone call PETA right meow. Even though all of that is still a good time, there's going to be a point where content runs out because there's no more territories to take part in, well fear not because just like in previous Saints Row titles, here in this reboot, you can also take over the entire map completely and finish off your gameplay with a Saints Tower. Sounds awesome huh? but how do you do this? Well after Fring is taken out of the picture and his chicken empire collapsed, you can use the Empire Board in the Saints HQ strategy room and it is here where you spend money earned in order to place criminal enterprises such as Bright Future that has you transport a truck of toxic waste across town before it has a chance to explode and leak, and man do I hate these missions, its literally impossible to get back to your mission point without losing 5 or 6 barrels, absolutely annoying. You also have The Big One that is your games Mayhem mode that requires you to do as much as damage as possible in the time allotted to you, Jimrobs Garage that has you repo peoples cars, Laundromat that helps you cover for people for murders and everything else, etc. With 14 ventures to build in all, in order to get your Saints Tower, alongside gang territories opening up after starting up each one. You're GUARANTEED at least another 7-8 hours or more of fun. Which is way longer than we could all stand seeing Skyler and dealing with her attitude in Breaking Bad, am i right or am I right, guys?.
Oh boy. Here we go. The dislikes. Contrary to what you've read so far, yes I do have my gripes. Sure I had a lot of fun, definitely, but as I stated earlier, the complainers and whiners about this game weren't exactly 100% wrong, they did have some legit gripes that hold weight and water and some of them I actually agree with. Some small and some bigger, obviously. One of the more minor gripes right off the bat is the environment and object pop in from time to time. Saints Row is a very weird game because some sections of the game look absolutely gorgeous and then the next area you drive or fly to looks really bad with lower textures or objects popping into view at the last minute. This is extremely evident during night time in Lakeshore with the buildings looking like early PS4 level of texture design and poles and other objects showing up at random. Its not immersion breaking, but it definitely isn't pleasing to the eye. This title also has some bugs that can cause you to lose 20 to 30 minutes of progress with save screens locking up and freezing, which seemed to have occurred for me in both the middle portion of the game and near the end. It was pretty frustrating having to play several missions all over again and the only reason I wasn't madder than I was at the time was do to how often it happened, which was rarely. Still annoying as hell though. Like Skyler the entire time she gets into Walts business. Ok ok, I know, that's my last Skyler dig, but I cant help it, I hate her as much as everyone else hates Hectors bell. Sadly its not over for my dislikes and gripes as of yet, because this game does one of the cardinal sins for me and my pet peeves, and that's putting missions behind a progress wall. You see, in order to advance in missions at certain sections of the game, you will be required to complete other criminal ventures via the Empire Board or even take on side missions that you may not like or want to do. You're FORCED to do it or you cant progress. Oh man does this trigger me so much like a whiny little ween, because there are some side missions that are so dang boring like I mentioned before with the waste barrels, that it made me want to sound like a pig getting its tail pulled and make me REEEEE all the way home without going to the market.
At the end of the day, I actually had a lot of fun playing Saints Row. Did it set the world on fire with revolutionary stuff and turn the genre on its head? heck no, but for me, personally, it delivered on the crazy and whacky antics of the Saints Row games of old, mainly 3 and 4. From funny moments with civilians seeing someone dressed as Freddy Krueger and beating the crap out of them because you had enough of his nightmare crap, to intense high speed chases and watching Neenah put Vin Diesel to shame by performing stunts with her car that aren't physically possible, watching a team building mission go wrong in a very charlie brown like way, become part of a board game with animals. There's so much to love here. But on the flipside, its a game with a ton of issues from game lock ups, bugs that make characters disappear or glitch out in key moments of the game, pop ins, some tedious or boring side missions, etc. So weighing the positives and negatives, what do I feel is a fair verdict here? Well for me personally, I would've bought this at a $60 price tag given how much fun I legit had with it. But I'm not here to be biased, I'm here trying to be as informative for you all as I can be and think with the consumer in mind. Sure, I like it a lot and would buy it, but based off past items I've reviewed and what the market dictates for the type of problems it has, for YOU as a consumer. Unless the game already has your interest or you love playing as fictional characters like Walter White or other fan creations, then I would suggest waiting for this title to drop down to $40 before biting the bullet. Even with Co-Op in mind and its overall bugs, I feel $40 is very fair and a legit price for anyone curious enough to jump in, to do just that, jump in. So with all that having been said, my verdict is clear. GameNChick says WAIT, at least for it to hit $40.