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Saints Row (2022)

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I'm sure you can help them sort it out, Dunban.
― Fiora, Xenoblade Chronicles
This article is about the 2022 reboot.
You may be looking for the 2006 game.
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WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

This article may reveal major plot points, especially considering the game had either been released recently or not in specific countries yet.‎

Saints Row
Saints Row Reboot Box Icon.png
"Jesus, you haven't learned a goddamn thing."
— Julius Little
Protagonist(s): The Boss
Genre(s): Action-adventure
Platform(s): Microsoft Windows
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 5
Xbox One
Xbox Series X/S
Stadia
Release: August 23, 2022
Developer(s): Volition
Publisher(s): Deep Silver
Country: United States
Series: Saints Row
Predecessor: Saints Row IV


Saints Row is a 2022 action-adventure game developed by Volition and published by Deep Silver. It was released for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, the Xbox Series X|S, the Stadia and PC via the Epic Games Store marketplace as a timed exclusive, and was intended to be a reboot of the Saints Row franchise.

Plot

Set in the fictional city of Santo Ileso, the story follows a group of four friends led by the "Boss" who start their own outlaw gang called The Saints, which they subsequently expand by seizing power from other criminal organizations, them being the Idols, the Los Panteros, and Marshall Defense Industries (MDI), in the city.

Bad Qualities

  1. The main problem with this game is that it takes nearly every element that was added and improved in past Saints Row games (especially the first two games)' and throws them out of a airplane window. Prior to the announcement of the reboot, fans of the Saints Row series have been waiting for a new game since 2013's Saints Row IV and its 2015 standalone expansion, Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell. The brick wall with the graffiti on the Saints Row website generated lots of hype from fans of the series, who wanted the game to go back to its gritty gangster roots set by the first game in 2006 and Saints Row 2, especially in light of many modern open-world games going for more fantastical, over-the-top features. However, fans' hopes were quickly dashed once the announcement trailer came out, showing the Boss and new Saints members, Neenah, Kevin, and Eli, facing off against Los Panteros, one of the three new gangs in the game (the other two being the Marshall Defense Industries and the Idols), and dialogue suggesting the Saints are paying off their student loans. Tone wise, it looked like a mix between Saints Row 2 and Saints Row: The Third, but the way the Saints were presented was a far cry from the series original roots. To say that fans of the series were disappointed would be an understatement.
    • Also, the past games' previous members of the Saints such as Julius Little, Johnny Gat, Shaundi, Benjamin King, Dexter Jackson, Troy Bradshaw, Kinzie Kensington and Pierce Washington are nowhere to be seen and replaced by Neenah, Kevin and Eli.
  2. The writing in this game is disjointed, and filled with ludonarrative dissonance and inconsistent tone. For example, Kevin will talk about giving Mechaburger toys to an orphanage after killing the Idols to get said toy, and said moment is played completely straight, without any ounce of humor behind it. Keep in mind that the original games didn't take moments like this seriously for the most part.
    • Some of the dialogue is cringeworthy, as if it was written by people who wanted to keep up with the latest internet trends, and it shows.
    • The story tries to touch on complex and very real issues like student loan debts or access to healthcare, but lacks intelligent writing to actually make any comments regarding them (in comparison Grand Theft Auto series notoriously commented on many real life issues, but with proper understanding of them, as well as necessary remarks). They're used as nothing more than one liner jokes, and the student loans and rent pay plotline is never touched upon again.
    • Speaking of jokes, they're pretty lousy, as they range from mocking capitalism (which is ironic considering the previous Saints Row games had the Saints become a brand), cringy hashtag gags, and hypocritical jabs towards Todd Howard's memetic "it just works" sentence (something this game, what with its numerous bugs, has no stand in that joke), and microtransactions (when the previous games had that kind of problem with DLC packs).
    • Neenah, Kevin and Eli are uninteresting, poorly written, two-dimensional and stereotypical characters compared to the previous members of the Saints such as Julius Little, Johnny Gat, Shaundi, Benjamin King, Dexter Jackson, Troy Bradshaw, Kinzie Kensington and Pierce Washington from the previous games. They lack depth and fleshed out personal story arcs, feeling like they were written by upper middle class boomers trying to satirize working class millennials in a way accessible to zoomers who consider MCU's humor to be funny.
      • It's also never explained how Neenah, Kevin, and Eli first met the Boss or why they decided to join the Saints gang.
  3. Many features that were in the previous games were cut in the reboot.
    • You cannot recruit or dismiss any members of the Saints to make them follow you, apart from Neenah, Kevin or Eli.
    • You can no longer mug people or take them as hostages nor can you rob stores outside of missions.
    • The Saints members don't spawn around the districts taken over by them unless you complete everything in the district, including collectibles, side jobs and visit the stores. Even then, the enemy gangs that the Saints were supposed to take over the territories from can still spawn.
  4. Similar to Cyberpunk 2077, despite being delayed to August of 2022, 6 months from its originally intended release date in February, the game launched with a plethora of bugs and glitches, such as placeholder texts, character animations not playing properly (mainly during takedowns), chances of softlocking the game in the menus, and broken physics, and it's even worse when playing in co-op mode. This shows that Volition didn't learn their lesson from when Agents of Mayhem first launched in a similarly buggy state. Examples shown in the Betaz video "Why is GTA V better than Saints Row?" are:
  5. Weak and outdated graphics and visuals, even for the 8th and 9th gen console standards. The character models look like they were ripped out of Fortnite, and the sandstorm effects are terrible, looking more like fog, leaving you unable to see much of anything in the open world, like the rain in Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition on launch.
    • The game's graphical limitations are in some capacity caused by its dated engine, the very same one Saints Row: The Third (released in 2011) used. Aside from the engine itself, developers repurposed many assets from their old games, like animations, for example, which was noted by the Saints Row community.[1]
      • This in itself shows that Volition wasn't willing to use a brand-new gaming engine designed for eighth-gen consoles including higher-end PCs and took a cheap way out.
        • Porting Disaster: The console ports are poorly optimized, even on the PS5 and Xbox Series X, where both consoles struggled to run 1080p 60fps with the settings maxed out!
    • Although the PC version has graphics options for ray-tracing, it lacked options for DLSS or FSR on launch, something which should've been standard for PC games since 2021, regardless if they have RT graphics options or not.
      • The game will add support for FSR 2.0 in a future patch.
  6. At times, the city of Santo Ileso can feel a bit empty, especially considering that it is situated in a desert area.
    • What's even worse is that Santo Ileso feels like a massive downgrade to Stilwater, a city that had far more life to it.
  7. Much like Saints Row: The Third, you have to complete certain side missions in order to unlock story missions, and some of them can be very tedious or boring, such as Toxic Truck Delivery.
  8. Some of the criminal ventures have missed potential.
    • KAKTS Radio has the Saints boss setting up a new radio station, but you don't get to listen to it, as KAKTS Radio doesn't even get added on the radio wheel, even after you complete everything for that venture. It would've been interesting to hear what songs or programs KAKTS Radio would've played.
    • Let's Pretend is a criminal venture where you get to set up heists and participate in them, but you only get to act as a getaway driver, as the actual heists happen off-screen.
  9. The A.I. in this game is extremely broken. For example, in the first mission, if you stop and get out of your motorcycle, the enemies will stop their cars and you can kill them easily.
  10. There are some hints of censorship and PC culture pandering, which, again, is inconsistent.
    • They changed the name of the tuning garage from Rim Jobs to Jim Rob's, and yet they kept the double entendres at the donut shop.
    • For some strange and bizarre reason, they removed gender and race options in Character Creation because they think it's problematic and offensive in 2022. If anything, it only did more harm than good.
  11. Health bars on enemies are very unnecessary, and most of the enemies become bullet sponges.
  12. When an enemy is chasing you in a car, be it law enforcement, a rival gang or a hostile NPC, there's an annoying rubberbanding mechanic where you can't shake them off your tail by driving faster, as they'll inexplicably catch up to you. The only way to get rid of enemy cars is to sideswipe them or shoot at them until their vehicles blow up.
  13. One of the main story missions is literally your character moping around their apartment after getting fired from Marshall with QTEs for mundane tasks.
  14. The subtitles are not always accurate, and most of the time, they will jump too quickly to the next part of dialogue before the character even finishes speaking the previous part.
  15. In the credits, they thanked and gave credit to the moderators of the Saints Row Discord server and subreddit. This would've been fine, if it wasn't for the fact that one of those Discord moderators insulted fans of the original Saints Row and Saints Row 2.
  16. Vehicles lack functioning interiors, and do not have interior view as well, and their interior quality in vehicles are incredibly morbid. This is unlikely the result of hardware limitations, but rather, pure, utter laziness from the developers. Even Grand Theft Auto V, a game from 2013 that was later re-released starting with the PS4, Xbox One and PC, had functional interior views for vehicles and aircrafts alike!
  17. There are no cheat codes whatsoever, a feature that all the previous games had.

Good Qualities

  1. The customization options are very robust, especially the character customization, which is an improvement over Saints Row: The Third and Saints Row IV.
    • You can customize your character's appearance and personality from your phone, which is more convenient than going to a plastic surgeon like the previous games. You can also save your character presets (not just outfits, proper characters) and share them online with other people.
    • For first time in the series you can uncensor women nipples without using mods although sadly, genitalia, penis and vulvas cannot be uncensored at all unlike Cyberpunk 2077.
    • Vehicles are also getting a customization overhaul. You can change things from how much rust is in your car and adding bosozoku-styled exhaust into your chopper to "swapping engines" (by that it means you can change your engine sound in your car), to even swapping your car's spec The Crew style (you can make your, example, sports car into an off-roader). Oh yeah, not just cars and bikes by the way, but...
    • ...you can now finally customize boats and aircrafts without mods or glitches unlike the previous games.
  2. Similar to Doom (2016) and Doom Eternal, the player can regain health by taking down enemies.
  3. Despite feeling dated, the gameplay is on par with Saints Row 2 and Saints Row: The Third.
  4. The day/night system made a grand return from Saints Row 2 after being absent from Saints Row: The Third and Saints Row IV.
  5. Regarding BQ#11, yes, you can remove the health bars in the Accessibility options menu.
  6. The soundtrack in this game is pretty good, including the licensed music on the radio and the original score by Malcolm Kirby Jr..
  7. Some of the missions, like "Observe and Report" and "Take Me to Church", are pretty fun.
  8. Despite feeling somewhat empty, the city of Santo Ileso and the surrounding desert is much more interesting to explore compared to Steelport in Saints Row: The Third and Saints Row IV.
  9. The PC version has somewhat better optimization than the console versions.
  10. The idea of a starting a gang from scratch and building a criminal empire is a pretty decent idea for a Saints Row game, it was unfortunately bogged down by poor writing.
  11. There's a quote saying "if a game exists, there's a mod for it". It does apply to this game and one example is a mod that made (un)censorships consistent, by replacing the FB's sign with its predecessor, Freckle Bitch's (though still a WIP mod).
  12. Like its predecessors, it has easter eggs, such as a Jenga building, the Zohar from Xenoblade Chronicles, the TURDIS, and several secret vehicles like a wrapped-in-tinfoil Potato hatchback, the golden Sanicruiser garbage truck, the Shifty bathtub mobile (a stealth reference to Garry's Mod's infamous Bathtub Car) the Marshall Tornado helicopter and the MDI-7078 hoverbike.
    • Not just that, there are more easter eggs and references to be found such as a crashed UFO, a reference to the IT movie, a secret Raycaster that resembles Brian's Mitsubishi Eclipse from The Fast and The Furious, the singing bush from The Three Amigos, a monolith that leads to a UFO parked inside a lodge (a reference to The Thing), and even a moment where the game makes fun of microtransactions (despite the hypocrisy).

Reception

When the Saints Row reboot was first announced following the commercial failure of Agents of Mayhem, fans were hyped, as Volition touted that the game will be a "return to its roots". However, when the first trailer came out in 2021, fans felt that Volition lied to them about the "return to roots" of the original Saints Row games, and the reveal garnered tons of controversy, especially as Volition started mocking the fans as "haters" and deleting negative comments about the reboot as a form of damage control, despite later apologizing for the former.

When the game was released, it was met with mostly mixed reviews from critics. Fans of the Saints Row series, however, were much less kind to the reboot, with the Metacritic user scores ranging from 2.9/10 to 1.6/10. Not only did the fans criticize the game for its poor story, characters and dialogue, but also its dated visuals and technical issues. The Saints Row reboot currently has a rating of 3.7 out of 5 from players on the Epic Games Store, making it the lowest-rated game on the storefront. In spite of this, Volition continued to blame the fans for the reboot turning out unfinished, showing that they couldn't take criticism.

Some fans even went on to give the reboot mocking nicknames, like "Saints Woke" and "Sanitized Row", due to its cleaner humor compared to the previous Saints Row games and its disastrous marketing campaign.

Some former members of Volition also criticized the Saints Row reboot for abandoning the humor of the original games and the gangster angle in favor of a different direction, along with the gameplay and graphical issues.

Embracer Group's stock fell by 7% in Stockholm trading on August 22, losing about 6.3 billion kronor (€600 million) in value.

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