The new Saints Row has looked better and better every time that it’s been shown — and recently we got to see a whole chunk of the sandbox title in action. Volition’s latest is still unapologetically Saints Row (and by that we mean Saints Row: The Third), right down to the ridiculous character customisation and mental side activities. We’ve got high hopes for this reboot, but we do feel as though expectations need to be managed. Compared to a lot of other open world games, Saints Row comes off as a bit…dated.
Now look, we didn’t expect Saints Row to raise the bar on a technical or graphical or even gameplay level, but based on what we’ve seen, it’s not that far removed from its immediate predecessors — and they were originally PS3 releases. In its character animations and the ways in which you interact with its quirky sandbox, it’s very familiar, and the noticeable lack of evolution might be enough to put some players off.
But don’t get us wrong, this latest preview hasn’t necessarily dampened our enthusiasm for the new Saints Row, because if you can look past its last-gen shell, there’s clear potential for a lot of dumb fun. From messing around with NPCs on the street — they’ll often react to your character’s lunacy in comedic fashion — to completely winging it during main missions, it’s set to be an enjoyably dynamic game.
Dynamic is a word we’d used to describe combat, too. On a fundamental level, Saints Row is still a third-person shooter, but there seems to be an impressive range of guns on offer, and there are multiple ways to approach a fight. We saw a bunch of different melee takedowns, for example, and the hand-to-hand combat has been given a seemingly significant overhaul, complete with crunchy combos and comically ragdoll enemies.
The bottom line here is that this could be more of the Saints Row that you know…but better. Much like the combat, the driving’s also been expanded. We saw the boss — your custom antihero — ramming cop cars off roads, and drifting around tight corners. Traversal in general appears to be more freeform, as you can make use of a wingsuit to glide across the city or its dusty outer limits. It’s obviously taking cues from Saints Row IV, but without the crazy superpowers.
There’s only one aspect of the new Saints Row that we’re not sold on — and that’s mostly because we haven’t seen enough of it. We are, of course, talking about the story. We did get a brief look at an unedited cutscene during our preview, but it didn’t reveal a whole lot about the main characters or the game’s cutscene direction. As was the case in past games, the boss seems suitably chatty — cracking jokes and daft one-liners on a frequent basis — but that’s about all we we got from this particular preview.
All in all, if you’re already familiar with Saints Row, then you can be safe in the knowledge that this reboot is sticking closely to the blueprint. Too closely, some may come to argue, but like we say, it’s worth keeping your expectations in check. The new Saints Row isn’t trying to reinvent itself on any foundational level, but there is reason to believe that it’s trying to expand upon what it already has. Hopefully it all holds together when the game launches for PS5 and PS4 on the 23rd August.
Are you looking forward to Saints Row? Are you a fan of the series? Get the gang together in the comments section below.
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