Just down the block from Sinners Alley: Saint’s Row Retrospective, Part 1-Introduction

So, I’ve had this blog for weeks now.  Weeks.  And yet I haven’t done any things with it yet.  Should we do a thing?  I think we should have done a thing already.  Are you ready to do a thing?  I’m home alone and have had way too many margaritas.  That makes it the perfect time to do a thing!  Let’s do a thing!

What thing you ask?  Well, you probably ask that because you’re too impatient to read the post’s title.  In memorium of THQ, we’re going over the Saints Row series!


So, we’ll be doing this in five parts.  The first post, which you’ll be reading here, will give an overview and my thoughts on the series based solely on memory.  Kind of a summary of things to come.  Then, I’ll play through the games, making a post for each one as I finish them.  We’ll get more in-depth in the analysis there, covering the various characters, the plot, the gameplay, all that fun stuff.  Then, at the end, I’ll give a more informed retrospective of the type of stuff the series covers.  Interested?  Of course you are!  Hit the jump to find out more!

It’s impossible to talk about the Saints Row series without talking about Grand Theft Auto.  That’s because the first Saints Row kind of rips off a lot from the later entries in the Grand Theft Auto series.  Shamelessly.  Like it’s kind of proud of that fact.  But you know what?  It works.  The fourth entry is usually when things start taking a shift in direction, and the Grand Theft Auto series is no different.  The first three entries were pretty light-hearted, you played a cheery, happy psychotic murderer, murderizing your way across town to riches and glory.  Then Grand Theft Auto IV hit and all the cheer and happiness ceded way in favor of dark, gloomy seriousness.  Or so I’ve heard.  Haven’t actually played the game quite yet.

The Saints Row series really picks up, at least in tone, where Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories left off before the series got all serious. Yeah, you’re murdering your way across town, committing almost every crime in the book, but this is just a video game!  All the characters are really just lines of code and polygons!  Who cares?!  This is your city, have fun with it!  These games aren’t meant to be taken seriously.  There’s plot there, yeah, and you better believe we’re going to analyse it, because that’s kind of what I do, but it’s really just there to set up a playground for you to have fun with.  Who needs Niko Bellic and all his “drama” and “issues” and “problems”? You’ve got a world out there to mess up, and you better go have fun with it!

The series is well-known for being over-the-top.  And it’s a well-deserved reputation.  It starts out relatively reserved, but each successive entry starts pushing the walls further and further away.  The first Saints Row has its goofy moments, but that’s generally delivered by the characters and dialog while the gameworld itself plays things relatively straight.  At best, it’s an affectionate parody of THUG LYFE and the whole sandbox gangster genre.  Saints Row 2 is where the series really sets the irreverence we know and love.  It takes itself much less seriously, and is focused much more on creating wild situations and finding refuge in audacity.  Saints Row the Third is just absolutely ridiculous.  It drops all pretense of being based in reality, and embraces the kind of world you can only find in videogames.  Your missions take you through the oddest situations the writers can think up, and it escalates everything the previous game establishes.  Everything’s bigger, better, faster, harder, weirder, etc.

Gameplay is relatively the same across the three games.  The driving mechanics are imported wholeheartedly from GTA, and Saints Row VASTLY improves the on foot combat system.  I can’t even describe how much that fixes things up.  It’s actually fun to get out and go into combat on foot.  Who would have thought?  In each game, you make your own character, who’s pretty much a monster in combat and member of the Third Street Saints.  You lead the Saints in various battles against three rival gangs in the city, eventually taking it over completely.  The games are absolutely full of minigames, where you earn cash and respect for completing various minor crimes.  By the end, your character’s an absolute monster, and everyone who’s in the know either fears you or respects you.  And, of course, there’s the innumerable amounts of death and property damage you’ll inflict over the course of the game.  That just kind of comes standard with the sandbox territory.

And the rest, you’ll have to check the individual entries for.  I know, I know, I’m such a tease.  I’m very sexy, teasing is kind of expected among our people.  While the games aren’t exactly deep, they are a lot of fun, and hopefully across the next few entry I’ll do a decent job explaining why.  In our future entries, we’ll get to go more in-depth on the particulars of each game, as well as what makes a Saints Row game and what the series in particular can bring to the table. Anyways, you’ll see more soon!  In the meantime, I’ve got some games to play.

2 responses to “Just down the block from Sinners Alley: Saint’s Row Retrospective, Part 1-Introduction

  1. I don’t have much experience with Saints Row, aside from the Hell spin-off that was recently free for PS Plus subscribers. Maybe it started off as a GTA clone, but in recent times they have embraced whackiness to build a fanbase and identity of its own.

    • Yeah, that’s one of the really interesting things about this series. It started out so normal, then grew into pretty much a saturday morning cartoon. With blood and hookers. They really did build a very unique identity out of it, going after the craziness that GTA used to edge on and embracing it whole-heartedly.

      That reminds me, I really need to finish up this retrospective series. There’s another one to add to the project list.

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