Is the new Saints Row a GTA hammer?

SAINTS Row is back, but is the open-world crime sim a GTA bater? Your answer probably depends on why you play these games.

If you’re a fan of where Rockstar Games has recently taken the GTA series, Saints Row probably isn’t for you.

The new Saints Row will definitely not be a GTA 5.

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The new Saints Row will definitely not be a GTA 5.Photo credit: Deep Silver

See, Saints Row 2022 comes from the GTA: San Andreas school of open-world games. It is fun.

Where GTA is slowly moving towards more realistic, Saints Row’s tongue stays firmly in his cheek.

Jack up a car here and there’s no meticulous car jacking animation – you just double kick through the windshield and kick the driver out. When you get out of a car, you almost get out.

Everything is designed to keep the momentum going. Even missions that task you with stealing cars will automatically mark the vehicle’s location on your map.

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The game takes place in Santo Ileso, a fictional city in the American Southwest. It has arid deserts, winding highways and urban landscapes.

Its world isn’t as impressive as the ones in GTA 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2, but it seems like a definite improvement over previous Saints Row games.

But it doesn’t try to be a real, living place. It’s a sandbox.

You won’t confuse the non-player characters with real people with real life like you sometimes do with GTA 5.

The citizens of Santo Ileso are punching bags, ragdolls and background props. The cars are there to be stolen and destroyed.

This is a theme park of an open world game. It doesn’t feel like you’re slowing down and absorbing everything.

So if you do get caught in a gunfight, there’s no need to take cover.

Running and shooting are the order of the day, along with brutal takedowns and special moves – with a move like this you can stick a grenade down someone’s pants before throwing it at their buddies.

Land a headshot with a shotgun and the enemy will rip through the air violently. You won’t find GTA’s complex physics systems here, but you’ll still laugh at how far you sent someone with a shotgun.

Get in a chase and you can jump out the window and lie on the roof and fire bullets from your stomach before jumping between vehicles.

Later, you’ll also have access to a wingsuit that lets you soar above the city. But the developer says this won’t make vehicles obsolete.

“That was definitely a conversation we had several times: How do we get wingsuits to marry with the rest of the traversal?” Lead Designer Damien Allen explains.

“Wingsuiting isn’t the fastest way to get around town. Getting in a vehicle and hurtling down the streets is the quickest way to do this. However, this allows you to traverse differently.

“You can climb higher on buildings, you can land on a vehicle that someone else is driving, wait for it to rev up, and then move on.

“As you unlock the skills, you can take out enemies, you can bounce off the heads of pedestrians and enemies, and you can continue your journey through the city. We wanted it to be a bit more skill based.”

Bring the wingsuit into two-player co-op and the possibilities are endless. One minute you might be riding a shotgun while your friend is driving, and the next you’re on the roof of your car, walking down the street in a wingsuit.

Where it really feels like old-school GTA is in the structure of the game.

After a brief opening segment, you’re tasked with founding the Saints as a new street gang. It’s a proper rags to riches story as you slowly build your influence across the map.

Not only do you take on missions and advance the story, but you also buy companies that serve as fronts for your illicit dealings.

You decide what businesses you build and where they go, from insurance fraud companies to toxic waste dumps and ice cream trucks that control drug trafficking. Each adds new side missions to the map.

There is also a lot of character customization.

From jewelry to tattoos, you can dress and customize your boss any way you want. There are even six voice actors to choose from to portray them in-game.

When you’re done with that, why not trick one of your cars?

As the game progresses, you’ll fill your base – a derelict church – with allies and items while taking control of the territory of the three main gangs: the Marshalls, the Los Panteros and the Idols.

The Marshalls are a private military company with high-tech gadgets, the Los Panteros are muscular and drive muscle cars, and the Idols are a group dedicated to cyberpunk headgear and creating a post-capitalist society.

Each group has its own behaviors and enemy types.

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Saints Row is shaping up to be a fun open-world game when it releases on August 23rd.

It might not be a GTA beater, but it could definitely see us through to GTA 6.

Written by Kirk McKeand on behalf of GOOD LUCK AND HAVE FUN.

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