Friday, November 16, 2018

Flashback Friday: I Adored "Saints Row," 2 and 3 and Continue to Fondly Remember Them

As longtime readers of the blog may recall, years ago I made a long and rambling post about my affinity for the first, "Saints Row," game. Despite it being a blatant rip-off of the, "Grand Theft Auto," series it really rose above the sum of its parts to be a game I fondly remember. As the series went on it eventually somewhat escaped the shadow of the GTA games, becoming its own weird super-hero-alien-fighting-mash-up around the fourth entry. For my money, however, the second and third games really hit that sweet spot of good gameplay, great storytelling, and otherwise being a grand time.

"Saints Row 2," took everything fun in the first game--customization, zany characters, wild plot, base-building--and gave us more. It wrapped up certain plot-elements from the first but also mostly stood alone, and was ingenious in who the final boss you ended-up facing was--gentrification. You see, the Ultror corporation had bought-up much of the city at the end of the first game while your character was in a coma. Throughout a lot of the second game you fight other gangs that all seem to have little ties to Ultor before you seem to have beaten the game...but nope, now Ultor makes it move. With all the gangs except the Saints wiped-out they can sic their corporate hit-squad on the Boss (you), and try to eliminate the last group of folk keeping them from essentially taking over the city and maximizing profits. It is such a clever indictment of capitalism in a game most people think of for its dick jokes that it really surprises you. The other fascinating thing about Ultor is that it isn't made-up of wild and crazy gang-members. It is just a big, cold, corporation, that wants to wipe you out for reasons that aren't personal, you are simply in the way of profits. The cutscenes for the Ultor missions makes this clear, with the initial prologue-style one being especially chilling in its depiction of how Ultor will get rid of the, "Wrong people," for the city of Stillwater:

"Saints Row 3," which is also known as, "Saints Row the Third," is a bit more over-the-top than the second game (as the trend goes with this series), but not to any kind of extra success or harm, it just goes even harder on the metaphorical pedal. You're dropped into a new city known as Steelport and it is everything in the other games amped-up even further (just as 2 built upon 1, this builds upon 2). It has the Saints as worldwide celebrities who yet again take-on more gangs, corporations, and even a paramilitary organization. It's good fun as well and even though I have a fondness for, "Saints Row 4," I think the series achieved perfection on the 3rd game. The final fourth game in the series (spin-offs notwithstanding) became more of a super-hero simulator whilst the 3rd was still a bit more grounded (at least as grounded as a game with gigantic naked clone-monsters and helicopter-based bank-robberies can be.

The first three, "Saints Row," games all had certain story-elements, missions, and general aspects I loved. The first game set a stellar foundation and had a killer ending, the second game had some ingenious story-telling as well as in-depth customization not yet previously seen, and the third was where it felt like the gameplay and mission-design had been mastered by the developer. Speaking of the developer, Voltion, they actually were bought-out by another company known as Deep Silver after their most recent game, "Agents of Mayhem," had underwhelming sales. Hopefully there is something really good cooking still, be it a, "Saints Row 5," or something else intriguing. In the meantime, I'll fondly recall all the previous entries, even the bit-much final one and its Johnny Gat-focused spin-off that sent a secondary character literally to Hell. As I said, things got weird towards the end.

No comments:

Post a Comment