Saints Row 2022 may need a recent face and a very modern set of anxieties driving its narrative, however its open-world arcade chaos and penchant for outrageous set items feels unmistakably just like the Saints video games of previous. It doesn’t break any new floor, however the brand new Saints Row seems like a pleasant return to the shape of 3 and 4, following Volition’s misstep with Agents of Mayhem.
A brief means into my 4 hour hands-on, my customised Boss character – a vivid purple girl with lizard eyes, a fauxhawk, and a deep southern accent – is in bother. Sprawled out on a bridge and surrounded by cops, she glances into the gap and smirks as her ride-or-die buddy Neenah comes roaring down the highway in a vivid yellow muscle automobile. What follows is a stunt so gloriously foolish that it makes Fast & Furious look life like – however, in true Saints Row fashion, it really works like a attraction.
“You said you didn’t want to risk your car,” chirps my character as she hops into the passenger seat. “I said I didn’t want to risk it for rent,” Neenah replies with a grin, “I’d risk anything for you dummies.” It’s a second that encapsulates the reboot’s new solid completely – an over-the-top, modern-day millennial crew whose love for each other is rapid and inarguable, however who’re additionally a group grappling with the mundane anxieties of up to date grownup life.
Stepping away from the beloved faces of Saints Row’s previous isn’t one thing the staff at Volition is taking flippantly. “Over five games there are a lot of things that wouldn’t have allowed us to do what we wanted to do,” says principal designer Damien Allen of their resolution to reboot the collection. “This group of Saints is different, and they have their own story to tell.”
It’s definitely the game’s boldest departure from earlier entries. Your crew consists of entrepreneurial Eli, driver and mechanic extraordinaire Neenah, shirtless socialite Kevin, and your customized character, who assumes the position of the gang’s Boss. They’re a bunch of felony sweethearts, who love one another to bits.
You can put any qualms in regards to the new crew being ‘too nice’ to at least one aspect, too, as a result of they definitely don’t shrink back from wanton homicide and destruction for even a second. “They are definitely going to interact with the world in a way that I would never do,” says Allen with a snicker, “doing things that are well above my bar of what is acceptable!”
In true millennial trend, the brand new Saints have an astonishing give attention to the stress of dwelling prices. I genuinely misplaced depend of what number of instances through the opening hours the group frets about how they’re going to make hire. Everyone’s hustling to make a couple of dollars, and when issues don’t work out they’ve to show to different, extra excessive means.
The huge open world – stretching past the town limits into the rocky, badlands-inspired wilderness – is full of all method of methods to earn that cash. You can go from stealing autos with a magnetic cargo chopper to bounty searching inside simply a jiffy.Drug pick-ups, photograph alternatives, skydiving missions, getaway driver gigs, race occasions – there are a lot of methods to kill time in Santo Ileso.
The gameplay is a lot extra restrained than the final Saints Row game – as an alternative this is nearer to Saints Row The Third. Gone are the full-tilt superpowers of SR4, however you’ll nonetheless be diving feet-first by way of windshields and free-falling from skyscrapers round Santo Ileso in a means that’s so recognisable it instantly took me again to my recollections of the 2011 game. And you realize what? I liked it.
It is perhaps extra stripped again in comparison with Saints Row 4, however it’s something however low-key. In my few quick hours, I spent a sizeable chunk of time browsing on the roof of automobiles, grappling onto VTOL jets, blasting my means by way of the partitions of fancy artwork reveals, flinging portaloos into the sky with a bulldozer, and leaping between the carriages of a number of transferring trains. And nearly every part had exploded by the point I used to be completed.
Reflecting on the lukewarm reception to Agents of Mayhem, Allen admits that this new game is an train in returning to “a focus on what we do well.” So far, it seems like they’ve succeeded in making one thing that completely captures these arcadey hijinks of traditional Saints Row, however in a means that’s nearly grounded sufficient to make it really feel really absurd. If something, elements of it are nearly too acquainted – one of the primary main mission set-pieces feels prefer it should be paying intentional homage to the third game’s opening with simply how comparable it is.
There’s lots of delightfully foolish touches, of course. One of the primary ‘focus skills’ you unlock has you popping a grenade into the closest enemy’s pants earlier than hurling them into their buddies. Meanwhile, driving over a fireplace hydrant will trigger the ensuing jet of water to fling your automobile excessive into the sky. Once once more, it’s the identical model of methods that the collection was pulling all these years in the past – however with a shiny, modern polish to the entire thing.
Saints Row 2022 finally performs it protected, then. But, after nearly a decade because the final entry, a recent coat of paint could be all that it’s essential remind you why you fell in love with one thing within the first place. So far, as a long-time fan of the collection, I’m alongside for the trip.