Saints Row's Frenetic Opening Hours Are a Sign of Good Things to Come - Gameplay

Saints Row's Frenetic Opening Hours Are a Sign of Good Things to Come - Gameplay

Dan Webb

We'd be remiss to say that this summer has seen a dearth of video game releases, but it's been a fair while since the last big AAA release (on PlayStation and Xbox, at least), that arguably being Elden Ring, way back in February. There's been plenty to tide us over during the summer months, but we're thirsty for a big open world opus, and Saints Row, which we recently enjoyed hands-on for a solid four hours, could well be that game.

As you'll likely already know, Saints Row is effectively a reboot for Volition's offbeat open world crime saga, which the studio claims is slightly more serious in tone, being not nearly as batshit crazy as Saints Row: The Third and Saints Row IV. I can confirm that is most definitely the case based on our hands-on experience. That's not to say that it's not as suitably off-the-wall as ever, but it's grounded in a relative sense of realism, more so than the previous two games. And by grounded, I don't mean that is a gritty crime drama - it's still very much the Fast & Furious of video games, in as much as it provides the same brand of big dumb fun and overblown set pieces you'd expect from the series.

In fact, the most impressive thing about the opening few hours is the sheer diversity of set pieces – one minute you'll be climbing on the back of a jet and shooting bad guys, the next you'll be racing through the desert directly into a sandstorm while jumping from car to car, then firing rockets at rival gang members from the roof of a car. Later, you'll be shooting up a museum with a minigun (unintentionally, of course), with scant regard for the priceless antiquities you're shredding to pieces with your bullets. Each mission has its own unique hook, and if the rest of the game can keep up with that breakneck pace, it should be an immensely fun way to while away a good few hours next month.

It helps that the shooting is still enormously gratifying and robust (and fun), as is the loose arcade-style driving model. And while it’s not going to win an Oscar for best story, or be in the running for Game of the Year, there’s one thing that Saints Row seemingly has nailed… it's fun. Incredibly, unapologetically fun. Did we mention that it's fun yet?

While there’s nothing necessarily new or overly innovative to report in terms of game mechanics, based on what we've played thus far, the stuff that we’re most excited about is the 'build your own empire' aspect of the game, which was sadly out of bounds for our hands-on. We can only hope that the empire-building part of Saints Row is deep and involving. What I can report is that Saints Row has dialled back the more unhinged characteristics of the latest entries, adopting a tone closer to Saints Row 2, while still retaining the deliriously entertaining gameplay. If it can keep that up through the duration of its narrative, and open-world dalliances, then I have no doubt it'll bring a smile to players' faces when it launches next month. Also, shoving a grenade down someone’s pants and then throwing him at enemies never gets old. Ah, the 'pineapple express' move – it's destined to become a classic.

You can take a look at the variety of activities you can expect in Saints Row, when it launches on 23rd August, in our 23-minute gameplay video embedded above. It looks like crime does pay, after all.

  • Have to say that after watching the gameplay it's growing on me.
  • Cant wait
  • I think what they mean by more serious is that it's woke. Fuck that
  • Sorry, but this looks like a terrible Xbox 360 game mixed with Crackdown 3 problems. The desert world is so brown and boring looking it is as exciting as driving through the desert to the most generic looking town in New Mexico.
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