The game starts out with your character walking down the street when two gangs crash nearby during a car chase. They proceed to kill each other off until there is only one gangbanger left. He notices that you have just witnessed everything and informs you that you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. As he raises his gun to kill you, the leader of the 3rd Street Saints, Julius, shoots him. He walks over to you and tells you to come over to the Saints’ Crib if you are fed up with things in the city and want to do something about it. Your character is now a 3rd Street Saint and is told to help the Saints’ three lieutenants (Lynn, Dex, and Johnny Gat) take out the rival gangs (Vice Kings, Westside Rollers, and Los Carnales).
Before players can actually play missions, you must complete side missions known as Activities in order to earn respect. Once the respect bar is full, you are able to play missions. Activities are goofy side missions like stealing ho’s from rival pimps, providing protection for drug dealers, driving hookers and “clients” around town, assassination targets, stealing cars for a chop shop, etc. Activities can be pretty fun, but at the higher levels they get progressively more challenging. Hit Man and Chop Shop activities are a kind of infuriating though; you’re given a broad section of the map where the target can be located. You then have to search around the area to find the car or person. I’ve spent upwards of 30 minutes in neighborhoods without finding the target. Instead of bringing something fun and interesting into the game, these two Activities just end up leaving the player angry.
Completing missions or taking over rival gang strongholds (which again require a full respect bar) changes control of a territory from that gang to the Saints. When you take over a territory you no longer find rival gang members walking down the street; they are replaced by Saints. They will help you out in a fight if they are nearby and you can even recruit some to follow you. Until they are destroyed, rival gangs will try to reclaim their old territories. In order to defend those neighborhoods, you must go there and kill any rival lieutenants present. This is a pretty fun distraction and does not happen so much that it feels like it is all you are doing ( I’m looking at you San Andreas).
The graphics in this game are nothing to write home about but they aren’t the worst I’ve ever seen either. There are however a large amount of glitches in the game. Roads, buildings, and even the car you are driving will disappear for a few seconds while the game attempts to load and render everything. I have failed a fair share of missions due to glitches as well – I spent at least an hour on the final Vice Kings mission due to glitches. While this was a huge pain in the ass I kept at it because the story was so good that I wanted to know how it ended.
The music in Saints Row is played through the stereo in your car. There are multiple stations to choose from with a lot of popular songs. You can also collect CD’s hidden throughout the game to unlock new music or stop at a store and buy music. The sound effects in the game are very realistic and keep you fully engaged in the game. When something blows up or a gun is fired it sounds exactly as it should. Each gun even has its own sound instead of using a base sound for pistols, rifles, shot guns, etc.
Overall, Saint’s Row is a very fun game. It offers a great story line, game play, and dialogue. If it wasn’t for all the glitches I would have given this game a much higher score, but even with all the problems I ran into I would still recommend this game. If you’ve got the cash lying around or you are looking for a new game go ahead and pick up this classic.
Note: The Saints Row review was written based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.