I am always one to praise the Saints Row games and to get excited when a new one is released but on most occasions and in most groups I tend to be the only one. I hear people mention the fact that the first saints row was nothing more than a Grand Theft Auto clone and that every Saints Row ever since has just got more and more ridiculous, but this is the very reason I like them. I guess this means in defending Saints Row I will have to talk about GTA quiet a bit but I just want to get things straight I enjoy a lot of the GTA games just not all of them.
Sure the first was just a GTA clone but when the Xbox 360 was out and incredibly popular and Rockstar seemed to be dragging there feet when came to getting a GTA game out on a new system and capitalising on the 360's position. With this in mind can you really blame someone else for seeing that gap in the market and trying to profit off it? I enjoyed the original for what it was but I never viewed it as a classic, I viewed it as a smart business move but also recognised that if they didn't do something to capitalise on this then the game would drop into obscurity the minute a real GTA game was launched.
I had spent many hours messing around on GTA, GTA 2, GTA 3, Vice City and San Andreas I loved the games but I appreciated them the most when they didnt take themselves too seriously. When GTA 4 came out it was this grey and brown game, with cars which from my perspective felt almost too realistic in the way they handled, you were constantly getting phone calls from people who you were compelled to spend time it felt to dull too drawn out and too much like real life. This seriousness was a Million miles away from Vice City and its bright lights, 80's music balls to the wall fun.
In Saints Row 2 you get to make your own character, you customize how they look physically and then latter on you get to buy them all manner of clothing, I prefer this to the character of Niko Bellic from GTA 4. Add on to this that GTA 4 stars with meeting your cousin Roman the guy who can charitably be described as the biggest drain of fun in the game, and less charitably described as a moaning bumbling arsewipe who will dog you via your in game mobile until you want to batter yourself to death with your own controller. In Saints Row 2 you start off with an awesome jail break. Yes you can say GTA 4 takes time to get going, it tries to build characters but I will take the explosive fun instead thank you. Its not that I am unsophisticated and cant appreciate a drawn out gripping story, I recently read and enjoyed To Kill a Mocking Bird however a story about gangsters fucking each other up doesn't really need to try and be a literal classic in game form. The first five Grand Theft Auto games were pretty much the video game equivalent of a pulp fiction novel and it didnt do them any harm.
Saints Row 2 was ridiculous but it was fun, the characters in it where over the top and the game could best be described as bat shit crazy. This for me was the game where the Saints Row Series got into its stride where it began to make characters you would care about, they can best be described as a collection of crazy misfits, the psychopath Johnny Gat who thinks he can solve everything by shooting someone in the face, and Pierce the fast talking con-man entrepreneur for example. The great thing about the game as a series though is that someone who is a minor villain or a relatively unimportant character in one game can return in a latter game with a bigger more fleshed out role. When you look at Saints Row 4 in particular there doesn't seem to be a single character from the previous games who has been forgotten more or less everyone at the very least gets talked about.
Grand Theft Auto 5 has actually addressed a lot of my issues with GTA 4 and is a much stronger game than its predecessor in my opinion but its still pretty much a game that stand alone. Every game in the saints row Series fits together, its like enjoying a long running Television series you love, you will play your way through the games and the DLC and get to see what the characters have been up to. Even though they are humours games some of the characters do go through a lot of development from game to game and this makes you feel connected to them more than you might realise.
The Saints Row games seem to be made with a mantra of ''concentrate on what would be fun and fit the story, the characters and the game around this fun''. Yes they can be over the top, rude, crude and tacky but they are fundamentally silly and fun. You will find yourself doing crazy missions like spraying shit all over rich peoples homes to lower there houses worth, committing insurance fraud by throwing your seemingly indestructible body in to the way of passing cars in order to scam them out of insurance money, If you start from the beginning and go through the games you will find yourself fighting gangsters, wrestlers, zombies, aliens, gimps, leather wearing dominants and even hell-spawns it wont always make sense but it will always be fun.