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Saints Row XBox 360 Review - -

Gameplay 8.0
Graphics 8.5
Sound 8.2
Value 8.1
Distributor: THQ
Review Date:
October 2006
Edwin & Shael Millheim


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Saint's Row

Not for the faint of heart, sensitive, or children. This over the top look into the world of an imaginary gang called the 3rd Street Saints. A gang led by a guy named Julius. The claim to fame of the 3rd Street Saints…or Julius really is that they claim to have one goal only, for the other gangs to leave the neighborhood alone. Hmmmm a rose by any other name as they say…


As noted this is not for children as the language is more street, than street, and I know I’ve been around a lot of it growing up. So parents, please pay mind to the Ratings on this game, they are not just putting it on there because it looks cute.

Players start the game by choosing a character type, more like a race. Then you can make the character either as muscular or thin or even fat…as you would like. Along with some features of the face which really don’t seem to come into play much other than perhaps some abilities for making the characters look different perhaps for the online play portion of the game... Other than that I see no real use in the ability for choosing, race, and body type or any other tweaks to the characters features.

The game world is reminiscent of the Grand theft Auto titles, and in some ways does it a bit better than GTA. (Well at least raised the bar just a bit, until the new Grand Theft Auto hits the scene for the 360) The game world is violent and trash talk with plenty of explanative is pretty common. Glamorizing in some respects the gang life…and in more cases than not…there deaths, and there is a lot of death when a gang war takes place. Well now as noted, the players character ends up in the 3rd street Saints, Julius and a companion saves the character from some other gang members and invites the character to come to the 3rd Street Saints. In no time…the player is part of the gang….


To terrorize the city, or not to terrorize the city: that is the question... Saints Row enables the player to run around and do practically whatever tickle’s his or her fancy. One can of course go along and play the plotline missions, but a little bit of chaos here and there is always fun. You can steal a car and get money from a hostage while outrunning the police, and crashing into cars head-on at high speeds is always fun, especially when drivers get thrown out of their vehicles! The game world is pretty good size, it does not compare to the immenseness of Grand theft Auto, and for me anyway that is a good thing. A too big of a game world can kind of cause some problems with keeping interest. I kind of want to move along to the next thing, not travel 100’s of actual miles to get to the next goal. But hey that’s just me.

Let’s see the game premise is pretty much to the point as noted earlier, so let me get down to brass tacks… the game looks freaking awesome. Now for the 360 as I have noted in another review, the knee jerk eye popping feel of the eye candy has worn off of the 360…for the most part. A game just has to have a lot more than looks to really keep the interest and make to make it worth the time and money of all you impulse gamers out there. Saints Row, while it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, is a game that has the looks, and the teeth to grab hold and keep a gamer going and coming back for more.


Cut scenes move things along and lend itself well to the feel of the game. The Xbox 360’s power is used well here. Everything is smooth and I often felt like I was watching some really interesting animated movie instead of just playing a video game. Other parts of the eye candy that the game throws at you in extreme abundance is actually in game play itself. Lots of vehicles on screen at once and a lot of characters as well, all with out so much as a small graphic stutter. The city itself all looks really good, with shops and different structures such as warehouses, a city and the suburbs and even a freeway to get you around a lot faster. While the game really does look spectacular, I could not help but feel that there could be more in the graphic department. Small glitches during loading of scenes makes you wonder if something in the game has crashed for the briefest of moments. Textures disappear and then come right back when it fully loads. This in no way degrades the game.

Speaking of the looks…buildings and streets and all the little things graphically look just down right spectacular. This includes the vehicles of which there are goodly amounts. From two door cars, to SUV types and also big rig semi trucks. All of which you can car jack and go for a spin. Even the emergency vehicles can be borrowed and taken for a ride. Lights and siren blaring or not. What a blast! Driving and shooting are a bit of a challenge when you’re trying to do it at the same time, that’s why it is always suggested you get some of your fellow gang members to go along with you for any drive by destructive outings you go on. While you concentrate on driving and bashing into what ever the heck you want to, you pals will target any rival gangs and blast away with their weapons.

Keeping it real in your little gang world, In Saints Row there are several ways to get respect and money, most of them would be frowned upon in polite circles no less, and since it is getting close to election times again in real life this bit of indulgence may be on the radar of some office elect hopefuls. Personally the game does not claim to be anything else. It’s up front in its packaging and the tag lines on the back of the box. There should be no mistaking what the games all about. If you pick this game up and claim to be surprised and claim you had no idea that the game would have such things in it, you’re an idiot.

Ok, that being said… there are certain activities that can net the player respect for the character and the gang, as well as some cash in their virtual pockets. These include store robberies, high jacking vehicles and holding an occupant hostage long enough to scare them into paying you money. There are also missions called…AHEM…. “Snatch” Missions. I do not know if the term means the same thing all over the world…let’s just say that if you do not know…it is a term meaning a certain part of the female anatomy. In this mission you have to liberate prostitutes from there pimps and escort them to another pimp that will…take better care of them… Yea…

Another such mission is driving an escort around in a car as they take care of business, the point of the mission is driving and keeping the paparazzi away so they cannot take pictures of the escort and their client who we can only assume is a high profile person. As a gang member you spend time getting respect and also taking over turf, or sections of the city for those that have no idea what tracts of land have to do with anything. Keeping parts of the city as your gang territory is not as easy as it sounds. Once you enter an area that is held by another gang, you do your best to go on missions that will help your gang take over that section of town. Completing a stronghold mission is pretty straight forward, kill all the opposing gang members in the area and the section of the city is yours, then come the turf wars. Gangs come onto your turf trying to take it back and these battles can get a bit long and drawn out.

While your character can get killed in the game, the enemy AI is not all that bright. Finding a strategic location and just mow the enemy down as they come on at you is almost too easy. I for one like to grab a vehicle along with my fellow gang member and as my fellow opens up on the opposing gang with his gun, I just run the enemy down with the car.

Ah yes, there is a police presence in the game and they will chase after you if you cause too much trouble, they are no where near as aggressive as the Grand Theft Auto series. Though I was very surprised to see the Pit Maneuver in the game. That little tid bit was just enough to put a smile on my face. The Pit Maneuver or PIT is Precision Immobilization Technique or Pursuit Intervention Technique -- was first used in the 1970s. Many Police agencies use it in the United States to end vehicle chases. Players can also make their mark on XBOX live, Teaming up with fellow players for various challenges against other gangs. Challenge players online in games such as 'Big Ass Chains', 'Blinged Out Ride' or 'Protect tha Pimp'. Form gangs, recruit new gang members and compete against other gangs for cash and respect in a variety of online multiplayer modes, including co-op. Hmm it’s gotta be safer than running with a real gang. I guess.

All in all Saints Row does a lot of things a bit better than Grand Theft Auto…. Some things I miss and would have loved to see are some two wheeled vehicle use. Motorbikes would have been nice to have, would have been great to go blasting through the streets on a motorbike. Another thing I just would have liked to see is something more than a next to useless option to customize your gang characters features. Certain stats and the ability to go up in skills would have been a nice touch. Raising skills such as street smarts or marksmanship so your character could shoot better would have been fun.

In the end Saints Row for the Xbox 360 is a delightfully indulgent thrill fest. When you get bored with one part of the game, there is always something else to do; the player does not necessarily have to follow the story. There is some small sense of freedom to the game and that’s just great.

Well worth having in your game collection, Saints Row is not for young kids, but teens and adults will find it a worthy distraction for a couple of hours per session.

Kick back relax, let’s play.
Shael Millheim

Have Fun, play games.
Edwin Millheim


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