Day 3 – A game that is underrated
The problem with Saints Row is that it’s always compared to Grand Theft Auto, which as the series has moved on, is unfair.
OK, so the original Saints Row looks and feels like GTA4, however, SR was released 2 years BEFORE GTA4. If you want to do a fair comparison, you need to compare against GTA3 or the subsequent San Andreas / Vice City releases and that’s when SR starts to stand out.
SR looks better that GTA3, the city is bigger and there are more missions and more to explore. SR also has a better shooting system than GTA3, (although in fairness the game designers could have given you a blancmange as a gun and it would have felt better than the awful shooting mechanics of GTA3) and at least you get killed in SR because rival gangs outflank you rather than the fact the crosshair has a mind of its own and starts pointing at the sky, the road, the buildings, anything, anywhere except at the person you are trying to blooming shoot, (yes, that was my GTA3 launches joypad moment!).
Stilwater, the city in SR, feels so much more like a city with crowds and lots of traffic, GTA3, I’m afraid, does not. Honestly, go back to GTA3, have a drive around and tell me it does not feel sparse and more like a city which has been evacuated after a mad man has gone on the rampage with sawn off blancmange!
SR2, on the other hand, was released just after GTA4 and yes, it doesn’t hold a candle to it, although it’s still a decent game which looks more polished and resolved some of the repetitive issues of SR.
SR3 marked a watershed moment as the makers cranked up the humour in an attempt to stand out. However, despite a different city, (Steelport), visually it was not enough to stop it looking like a GTA game.
Then Saints Row 4 came out and everything went mad……
SR4 is just a funny, silly, action packed game that does not take itself seriously and looks, feels and acts in no way like GTA5, which unfortunately this game is often compared to. I’m sorry, but you just can’t compare the 2, it’s lazy, Volition, (the developers), took the game in a different direction.
They thought, ‘How can we make this different to GTA?’, someone said, ‘How about aliens invade?’, the coders replied ‘Hold my beer’.
The end result is the protagonist is kidnapped by aliens, dumped into a virtual reality version of Steelport and tries to beat the aliens using special powers such as super strength, lightning fast running speeds and leaping over buildings. Does this sound like GTA5? Of course not, the 2 franchises have moved so far apart, they only see each other at weddings or funerals.
People bemoan the fact that SR4 is easy and yeah, compared to GTA5, (which you shouldn’t!), it is easy, but do you know what? Sometimes, I just want a game I can pick up, not be too concerned about plots, sub-plots and character exploration and just enjoy myself.
GTA5 is brilliant, don’t get me wrong, but it takes itself too seriously sometimes, which dulls the clever humour and spot on social observations which are the backbone of the genre.
SR4 mission statement is ‘have fun’ and it delivers in abundance, the virtual world opens up the game to things such as a genuinely funny ‘Streets of Rage’ stage, a ‘Tron’ inspired mission and a ‘Metal Gear Solid’ section, (complete with cardboard box hiding).
So for me, Saints Row 4 is underrated because of the comparison of the earlier games with the GTA series. Yes, that was fair comment back then, but today it has its own style, look and gameplay. I just wish it was no longer viewed as GTA’s poorer relation, but as the humorous, daft, action packed, individual game which it is today.