After an prolonged hiatus, Deep Silver Volition revealed that the Saints Row franchise is primed to return early subsequent yr at Gamescom. The final launch within the Saints Row collection was Gat Out of Hell, a spin-off starring beloved reoccurring character Johnny Gat as he battled his method out of the afterlife, launched in 2015. The final major entry, Saints Row 4, launched in 2013 and noticed the titular felony syndicate ascending to the White House whereas preventing off an alien invasion with tremendous powers and phallic baseball bats.
Now, Deep Silver Volition is getting a brand new crew along with a reboot that returns to the franchise’s gangland roots. Featuring an amusing “criminal syndicate as business start-up” premise, this new installment of the Saints collection maintains a signature mix of bombastic, crime-action and comedy. But the GamesCom trailer additionally represents a transparent tonal shift for the collection.
The reboot – merely titled Saints Row – is way from grounded, because the trailer boasts a gravity defying automobile chase that may make The Fast and the Furious films blush. But the collection is backing away from the absurdities of aliens, presidential aspirations, superpowers, and demonic legions. A clean slate is bound to open up storytelling alternatives, however shedding the collection’ most outlandish options could come at a value.
What Happened to the Aliens and Tigers?
When the unique Saints Row first launched in 2006, it was couched as a direct competitor to Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto franchise. The collection arguably hit its stride with its third installment, nevertheless, when the collection began to let its hair down. Though aliens and superpowers wouldn’t arrive till the subsequent sport, the lately remastered Saints Row: The Third leaned into ridiculous parts to distinguish itself from GTA.
Some notable examples embrace the Jackass-esque “Trail Blazing” flaming ATV mini sport, and the “Tiger Escort” exercise, by which gamers should cruise round in a automobile, drifting at applicable intervals to appease a tiger that periodically assaults the participant. The sport additionally launched a now-infamous, iconic melee weapon: The Penetrator. The writing, whereas juvenile, made absolutely the most of its weird set items and eccentric characters.
With a playful “start-up for bad guys” conceit, it’s clear 2022’s Saints Row hasn’t misplaced its humorousness, however gamers who most popular the zanier parts of Saints Row’s sandbox worlds could discover themselves miffed by the comparatively conventional-if-lawless southwestern setting. After all, there are dozens of video games the place gamers can drive round cities doing crimes in automobiles. Comparatively fewer titles let gamers achieve this in a bobblehead helmet whereas wielding Hulk-like “Apoca-Fist” gauntlets.
Doing Battle with GTA
Between the glowing cat-eared bike helmet and automobiles that may apparently leap up skyscrapers, the trailer doesn’t make it seem to be the brand new Saints Row might be positioned as a next-gen GTA-killer. But taking a step away from lunacy in favor a of crime comedy with shades of social commentary is unquestionably a step towards GTA‘s territory. Both video games will occupy mechanically and thematically comparable areas, and gamers will inevitably evaluate them.
But this match-up may go higher for Saints Row than one would count on based mostly on GTA’s legendary clout. While Rockstar has steadily injected contemporary content material into Grand Theft Auto Online, it should be acknowledged that the sport is beginning to present its age in sure respects. If nothing else, skilled gamers have seen the scope of what it has to supply, and plenty of of these gamers are seemingly hungry for one thing contemporary.
Alongside the enduring success of GTA Online, Grand Theft Auto 6 is probably going a particularly great distance off. Unlike the late 2000s by way of the early 2010s, there are far fewer collection’ working in that very same area right this moment. Saints Row might supply a welcome change-up to these hungry for one thing new, however that assumes all the pieces goes in keeping with plan. Competing with probably the most critically acclaimed titles of the final decade just isn’t a half-hearted endeavor.
If Deep Silver Volition is just too conservative with its mechanics and story, it’ll have a particularly tough time differentiating itself from GTA 5 and GTA Online. Even if Saints Row’s choices are glorious, it will likely be a tough promote to persuade invested gamers to change video games if the 2 titles really feel too comparable.
Fresh Faces In Familiar Territory
There is a cause there are fewer GTA clones than there have been a decade in the past: the format turned acquainted. Between True Crime, Sleeping Dogs, Saints Row, and a number of lesser-known titles, the market reached saturation. Players knew, or assumed they knew, what to anticipate, and which will nonetheless be true. It can also be attainable, nevertheless, that players who grew up on GTA clones may simply be hungry for a contemporary tackle the idea.
If Saints Row equally needs to develop up, shedding a few of its crasser qualities within the course of, that’s an admirable endeavor. But juvenile allure continues to be allure, and it should be changed by one thing equally compelling. “GTA with Better Graphics,” or “GTA but Funny,” received’t minimize it as a result of GTA is already humorous. Next-gen console ports of GTA are quick approaching, and the sport already seems to be nice on PC. What Saints Row wants to keep up, no matter what it adjustments into, is taste. Grand Theft Auto just isn’t drab, conservative, or humorless, however it’s a longtime model. As a end result, it’s more durable for Rockstar to take the kind of radical and trangressive dangers that Deep Silver Volition can take with the brand new Saints Row.
Fortunately, that particular character may be achieved in numerous methods. Hopefully the sport is not going to abandon its penchant for surreal, stunt-like mini-games, and the builders may have an arsenal filled with fan-favorite weapons seasoned with a number of oddballs. The weapons do not should be as cartoony as The Third’s Mollusk Launcher, however they do have to really feel distinctively Saints Row. It should be stated, the brand new Saints Row seems to be brimming with character, which was finally what allowed The Third to step exterior GTA’s shadow. Sometimes, character is all it takes to make a well-known expertise really feel contemporary once more.
Saints Row is coming to PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S on February 25, 2022.