Because Saints Row is so old I won’t do an out and out First Impressions blog. Rather, I will compare it to the masterpiece that is Grand Theft Auto IV, which I recently completed.
The first thing that really jumps out at me is how much GTA IV had to be inspired by Saints Row. The GPS, the cell phone, the targeting system, I could go on. While Saints Row is clearly inspired by the GTAs that preceded it, all the improvements it made on the GTA formula are evident and have been implanted in GTA IV as well.
I’m not crazy about the driving in Saints Row. I was one of the few who really fell in love with the driving physics is GTA IV and going back to taking 90 degree turns at 100 mph is a bit jarring. I also don’t like how the gas and brake are mapped to the face buttons instead of the triggers.
The gunplay in Saints Row is very satisfying and easy to switch to after playing GTA IV (keep in mind I never used the Auto-Lock in GTA). And it’s good that it’s so satisfying, I’ve only been playing for a little over 7 hours but I’ve shot a whole shit load of people. In the beginning I was particularly addicted to the drug trafficking mini-missions. The on rails shooting contained within is a lot of fun.
The one area that I can’t compare the two games is Saint Row’s character creator. I’ve always been a fan of games that allow me to customize my appearance. However, I’m usually disappointed by the meager offerings games usually give me (I’m looking at you, Project 8). I’m happy to report that I’m very satisfied with the amount of options I have for my character. Minus the hood wear, my avatar looks a lot like me. I wish I could get a good screenshot. It makes the story more fun to see myself in it.
So far I’ve only taken over the Los Carnales territory but I can say I’m enjoying the story so far. After being blown away by the story in GTA IV, the story here feels more like a Saturday morning cartoon, albeit an extremely violent one. The characters in particular seem very cartoony to me. However I am enjoying it quite a bit.
Not all is sunshine and rainbows however. I feel like the games only way to challenge me is to throw 20 guys with rocket launchers in my path. It’s kind of frustrating when I breeze through 10 missions full of guys without rockets only to be blindsided by a whole group of them in mission 11. As I’m sure most of you are aware, Saints Row lacks the checkpoint system that it and GTA so desperately need. This all leads to a bit of frustration for me, but I’m powering through it.
Overall I can already tell that I’m going to like GTA IV better than Saints Row. Unless Saints Row pulls something amazing out of the hat for the end of the game, it will always be the lesser game in my mind. I’m still excited for the sequel though.