It almost feels like the initial, divided reaction to the new Saints Row title was for an entirely different game considering how similarly it plays to past entries. We recently had the chance to play the latest open worlder for a whole four hours, and we can report this is the same Saints Row you know and — quite possibly — love. It's dumb. It's fun. It's Saints Row.
Our hands on session was all about the opening act, taking our custom character from the bottom of their dingy flat to the beginnings of a criminal empire. And the very first mission confirms it: Saints Row is not interested in taking itself seriously. As an army of soldiers fights its way through a movie set dressed up like the cowboys and Indians era, your protagonist jokes about their wages rather than issuing orders. The action reinforces this, no matter whether you are controlling it or not.
Cutscenes are over the top, throwing your character about with explosion after explosion that would comfortably kill any unassuming human after the first blast. And then there are the set pieces dotted throughout combat; hanging off the side of a jet, you'll blow the brains out of bad guys on the ground before dealing with the pilot. Your heroics see you signed up for another set of ludicrous missions, only for things to fall apart around you. It's here where the true Saints Row story begins: on the back foot, it's time to lead a criminal underworld.
Your mobile phone will be key to accomplishing this. From the handheld device, you'll be accepting main missions, side activities, scanning the map, styling your outfit and taking selfies, and unlocking skills and perks. It's a vital tool for all parts of progression in the game, especially when you're not back at home base with access to your weapon cache, garage, and wardrobe full of threads. A long list of challenges is also stored on your smartphone, which essentially ensures you're always working towards something even if you don't know it.
Whether it's racking up headshots and triple kills or driving on the wrong side of the road, you're constantly earning XP to unlock more abilities. With a Wanted app providing you targets to kill for cash — all for some comical reason — the game provides you with a good basis for improving your character and getting rich quick.
It's in the open world itself where Saints Row continues to feel lacking, however. As we mentioned in our preview a few months back, this reboot feels like open world 101. Icons quickly fill up the map — some will be for shops to source outfits and guns from, while others will be side activities rewarding further bonus experience and opportunities to increase your bank balance. Basic tasks such as taking photos of landmarks, drug pallet collectathons, and dumpster diving litter Santo Ileso as well, but there are more involved side quests to break them up. One early mission tasked us with escorting a package to a specific spot on the map while avoiding the cops, and further activities involving helicopters and a wingsuit unlocked as we progressed.
We suppose there's only so much you can really do with an open world — especially when you don't have a budget like Rockstar — but this newest effort doesn't seem to be a day older than 2013's Saints Row IV. The streets of Santo Ileso were desolate, with only a handful of pedestrians wandering the sidewalks and cars riding the highway.
Rather than feeling like a living, breathing place, it's an environment designed around you. Nothing really happens in the trips to and from missions unless you make it so, and all you can really do is go on a murdering spree outside of the aforementioned activities. And even then the police force was far too easy to get away from.
As far as the opening hours go, though, everything does come together to provide enjoyable action. The main missions remain engaging with a decent variety of objectives and suitably chaotic cutscenes to work through. The demo left us in a place where we could begin to build our illegal kingdom, teasing us with new jobs and ways to get back at the figurehead from the narrative who wronged us. It seems safe to assume Saints Row will retain that comedic awareness and extravagant action right the way through. It's just a shame, then, there appears to be a fairly significant dip in quality once you leave the story-focused, curated content behind.
We finish in a bit of a sour spot, then, because while Saints Row appears to have taken strides forward with more in-depth gameplay systems and a good structure to build your own criminal empire upon, what holds those features together doesn't seem to have been brought up to speed. In the mould of Ubisoft titles and other typical open world experiences, the game will be a perfect pallet cleanser or something you can shut your brain off for to mow down tons of bad guys.
A lot of people enjoy exactly that, though, and so Saints Row will find an audience. With more bombastic and generally better gameplay, just don't go in expecting it to be anything that it's not. As we said: it's really dumb, but really fun.
Are you looking forward to playing Saints Row next month on PS5, PS4? Let us know in the comments below.
Really dumb but really fun? Pass
Gonna be a hard pass.
I really liked Saints Row 2 & 3, so as long it’s along those lines… I’ll be pretty happy. I must be pretty confident as I’ve pre-ordered the Notorious Edition.
Pass here as well. I tried playing Saints Row 3 remastered, and just didn’t vibe with it for some reason. I think I didn’t dig how you have to actively select to start a main mission on the phone before it shows up on the map. I usually happen upon main missions while messing about in the world and decide I might as well do a story mission. I also might just not be that into chaotic city crime simulators like I used to be a few years back.
Dumb but fun sounds like a laugh. The over the top cringey man-child humour from the previous ones didn’t gel with me but this seems a bit better.
@Playstationuser Who plays video games to have fun?! Preposterous Poppycock! 🧐
OT: Enjoyed SR3/4/GooH, looking forward to the reboot. 😂
Ah, that good old pastime of when we used to play games because they were fun.
Removed - unconstructive
Sounds rubbish should've done a remake instead of a reboot
Might play this when it comes to plus but don't like the direction they went and seems like old design
if any of my friends would play this i would cancel the friendship
Might play this when it comes to plus, but don't like the direction they went with and looks like it's last gen
Personally I'm looking forward to it. Games that break boundaries and take the medium in new directions are always exciting, of course, but sometimes I just want a silly open world checklist to complete.
Sounds like this is going to deliver that.
Great preview, Liam — can't wait to play myself!
It's weird, God of War and Saints Row are my two favorite franchises, and I'm not really hyped for either release this year. I'll get them both, God of War will probably be Day 1, Saints Row will be somewhere down the line.
Is there a day/night cycle in this one?
Only curious; won't be buying this and will only play if/when it comes to Extra.
I had mixed feelings about the direction this game was going but it’s nice to hear that it fun to play. I can do dumb and fun so I may try it out.
I have played every Saints Row game and will continue to purchase them all in the future. I was already going to buy this. Thanks to this review I am also very excited about its release. Good job Push Square.
After posting above the went to Best Buy and preordered the
Saints Row Legacy Edition - PlayStation 5 for $79.99 US. The standard edition is $59.99 US.
Im glad the fun is still there but im still unsure about the new characters. I know Johnny Gat wasnt exactly the best written character of all time but these new ones just scream cringe
I just pre purchased on PSN, so I am ready. I played and like all the Saints row games and I am happy that they are trying to go back to the well. I am gonna give benefit of the doubt cause humor is subjective.
@get2sammyb - I am with you! I loved SR4 and GoH, so this seems like more of the same, minus the aliens of course, and I am completely good with it. This game was my pre-order gift to myself earlier this year, so I am extra hyped now!
Looks fine and fun but its also a game i could waitfor with a little after a little price drop just like Ubisoft games they should not be bought at full price.
Can't make boobs big, 2/10 best I can do.
Exactly as expected 😁 I have played enough deep emotional games this year, and Elden Ring on top of that so everything has been super serious.
Stray and then Saints Row is exactly what you want for summer releases, so I'm glad it got delayed.
One thing in this article has made me more excited to play this than I was before, and that is the mention of the wanted app for contract hits.
It means I'm now cemented in my boss character choice. The bat bleep crazy, jumpsuit wearing, big-bouncy-blonde-hair styling, Harley Quinn fangirling, semi-ironic sociopath, looking to take out people in style with absolutely no regard for stealth or finesse. But with a complicated, troubled past if there's any serious moments 😂
Dumb and Funner? I don’t ‘like it a lot’ but I will give it a chance. But why do all of the characters look like they were plucked from the streets of Watchdogs Legion? That’s the worst part honestly.
Still waiting for reviews and reviews from youtubers before deciding.
Huge Saints Row 1 and 2 fan so I really hope its fun like those 2 were. 3 was okay for me and 4 went next level silly
There haven't been a lot of open world games in this style recently so I will give it a try. I might not like it as much as Watch Dogs Legion but It looks fun enough. I play a lot of deep and emotional JRPGS so a game like this could be a fun break
@BritneyfR_ee You can literally make them look any way you want that is just how the developers made them look for ads.
Removed - inappropriate language
@EVIL-C hey I mean if dumb is your level then go for it
Still haven't seen anything to convince me to get this game, and I've bought, and enjoyed, every Saints Row prior.
I thought I starred everything out in my comment about Zinyak, damn 😂 and it was a direct quote from SR4 😅😅
Still want a Zinyak Easter egg in the reboot 👾
@Playstationuser Fun is my thing. Learn the difference.
Not day one or maybe even year one, but I will probably play this game someday. I need more reviews and view some game play along with players comments. I did enjoy SR2,3 with multiple playthroughs of each.
I think it looks like a good ol time, not sure what the deal is with all of the negativity but I am probably gonna get this one sooner rather than later as long as the reviews are solid
This game is getting far more hate than it should in my opinion.
Greg Chun makes this game better. I will pretend Kevin is Date.
game looks and will be trash ; i replayed remastered saints row 3 recently and i can’t even vibe with it like i used to when i was 14 , and i swore for the longest time that it was the best saints row game . crazy how time can really change your mind about things
@Logonogo “ not sure what the deal is with all of the negativity”
i dunno , maybe play or watch the first 2 games and find out ?
Sounds like a fun time. A dumb fun time, but a fun time nonetheless.
Removed - disrespecting others
@Playstationuser I'm sorry you get so offended over an individual's media consumption. Says a lot more about yourself than others. Good day.
I don't think the initial reaction had anything to do with the gameplay. It's just that they're trying not to offend anyone and be "morally correct".
I'll probably grab it one or two years from now when it's $10 on sale.
Dumb and fun works for me. Just Cause 3 is one of the most fun games I've ever played with it's traversal mechanics and zany physics. Love the tethering and grappling hook.
If this game has anywhere close to fun mechanics like JC3 then I'm game. Tired of all these movie games nowadays.
@sonicmeerkat my characters boobs are pretty big not huge like sr3 though 🤣
@nomither6 I have played the first two games and this game looks like a natural modernization to me. I will probably enjoy it. You can keep being pessimistic though cheers!
@Logonogo “probably” , oh you’re not sure ? 😂
I hope you enjoy it too , cheers !
@nomither6 nope I haven't played it yet so no way to be sure
@Logonogo @Ravix @ceedj @GreenRanger521 @JohnKarnes @EVIL-C I won't be buying this at full price, but def looking forward to having some random chaotic fun!
Hopefully it'll be $20 in a year or two, or included with PS+ Extra/Premium eventually.
@KidBoruto I definitely feel that way about the season pass. Even though I feel pretty good about how SR will turn out. I ain't paying the extra $30ish for dlc that I don't even know if i will like
@GreenRanger521 I forgot there even was a Season Pass! Now I have to wait even longer for the Complete Edition with all DLC to be $25 USD or cheaper.
Also love your username and avatar btw, Power Rangers fan for life!
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