Saints Row ruined Grand Theft Auto for me


One shall stand, one shall fall

My relationship with the car-jacking hooker-mugging series we all know as Grand Theft Auto began the way it does for a lot of people. Sometime when I was in middle school, a friend brought over a copy of Grand Theft Auto III. It was a weird moment for a twelve-year-old, to feel like you’re getting away with something by playing a video game, but Grand Theft Auto was taboo. It was in the media constantly at the time, the number-one game to shit on when it came to games “destroying our youth.”

For those reasons, Grand Theft Auto will always hold a special place in my heart, but that isn’t what I’m here to talk about. No, I want to talk about the game that showed me the open world career criminal game could be done better. I’m of course talking about Saints Row 2.

The sequel to Saints Row was a game I picked up on a whim, after finding Grand Theft Auto IV to be lacking. I needed something to fill that open world itch that was willing to get silly in ways GTA no longer seemed willing to. At their most base level, GTA and Saints Row are one in the same. Drive around, shoot people, blow up police helicopters. Where Saints Row differs is that I can do all of that while dressed as the god damn Riddler.

Saints Row 2 hooked me with how absurdly silly it dared to be from the Septic Avenger missions where you’re scored for spraying housing developments with shit to a Japanese samurai themed gang, topped only by Saints Row: The Third’s gang of luchadors. In short, the downright fun and unapologetic stupidity of the Saints series made it hard for me to even go back to old GTA games, or be interested in playing the new ones. 

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, for example, is still a fantastic game, but I’d pick a play session with Saints 2 over it every time. It’s down to personal preference at this point. I’m more than willing to admit that. While plenty of you were out enjoying Grand Theft Auto V, I found myself more concerned with Gunning through Saints Row IV for the third time.

There's been a weird amount of star power in Saints Row's voice acting over the years as well. From Neil Patrick Harris as DJ Veteran Child to Keith David and Burt Reynolds as themselves.

The Saints also seemed to get progressively better and different while GTA kept feeling like more of the same but bigger. The Third saw a bigger map with a more insane story, hell, Saints Row IV won me over by being more Crackdown than Crackdown. Of course, a grounded more serious story about criminals has its place, but not for me. I just wanna fight aliens and blow shit up.

It’s hard to enjoy the more grounded stories of GTA V after Saints Row IV has already made its protagonist the President of the United States and had said protagonist quote an exchange between Optimus Prime and Megatron from the '80s Transformers movie with an evil alien Emperor. All set to Stan Bush's "The Touch," I might add.

Let's also not forget the ridiculous expansions that the fourth installment spawned, like How the Saints Saved Christmas and Gat Out of Hell. Having Johnny Gat rescue the boss after he is betrothed to Satan's daughter is the right kind of weird.

With the recent Saints Row Humble Bundle, I ended up playing through Saints 2 over the weekend, and it still holds up pretty well. The PC version is filled with noticeable jank(I'm told the Gentleman of the Row mod can fix this), but it was still nice to sit down with the game while I gear up for the release of Agents of Mayhem later this month, a game that I assume is basically Saints Row V

It's probably worth noting that I never really gave the first Saints Row a fair chance. I played about an hour and something about the overly thug esthetic turned me off. The series as a whole is one of my favorites, and I give GTA credit for inspiring it, but can say in my opinion it doesn’t hold a candle to Saints, secret alien missions or no.

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Rich Meister
Rich MeisterNews/Reviews Contributor   gamer profile

NY gamer who duped Destructoid into hiring him. JRPG nerd and Paul Rudd enthusiast. Full disclosure, I backed some Kickstarter things. Monster Crown and Knuckle Sandwich have my money so take my... more + disclosures



Filed under... #Editorial #Grand Theft Auto #open world #Saints Row



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