Saints Row Is Violence Done Well
Passionate about video games, our Guest Blogger Matt Wood is a young writer from the great city of Seattle, Washington. He is almost always listening to music and his all-time favorite video games include Sim City 4, Halo 2, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, and the classic game Frogger.
Here is his article for readers of AmericanInventorSpot.com.
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Set to launch in late August of 2006 on the XBox 360, Saints Row is a free roam game set in the sprawling city of Stilwater. In Saints Row, you earn membership into the 3rd Street Saints gang, and struggle for survival against rival gangs and police. Building a reputation for the 3rd Street Saints, you can rise through the ranks and gain notoriety throughout the city. You gain notoriety for the Saints by completing missions or by killing rival gang members. As you gain notoriety, your gang's lieutenants trust you with more dangerous missions associated with your ultimate goal: to conquer Stilwater. (source)
Taking full advantage of the sheer power of the XBox 360, developer Volition has paid great attention to detail. This shows in the games graphics, as every car, building, and character is stunning and incredibly realistic. Every action you make in the game seems just that much more gruesome because it feels so real. Since the bustling city of Stilwater plays a large role in Saints Row, many people will be looking for alternative activities outside the storyline. Satisfying this interest, Saints Row contains such activities as assassination missions, kidnapping missions, and multiplayer games via XBox Live.
The game promises great customization. Saints Row allows you to "Create-A-Gangster," ensuring every gamer a personal identity. Using this feature, you can determine your character's ethnicity, height, weight, facial features, and even the color of his hair (bubblegum pink, anybody?). On top of this, there are plans for additional customization features that will play into the game. Several features of the game include: a clothing store, where you can buy and dress however you like, a plastic surgeon, where you can change physical characteristics at any time (for a price), and a weapon store, where you can buy everything from crow bars to pipe bombs, and everything in-between.
Another interesting gameplay feature is the "neighborhood" idea. At the beginning of the game, your gang governs, controls, and receives payment from one section of the city, or one neighborhood. Throughout the game, you can gain or lose neighborhoods to other gangs. For instance, you will be directed to put current missions and goals on hold to help fight off an invasion of one or more of your neighborhoods by rival gangs. In this situation, there are swarms of gangsters in the streets, free for you to kill without police interference. To defeat the opposing gang, however, you must eliminate a certain number of their lieutenants, and in doing so defend your territory successfully. If you are able to do this, you will retain control of your neighborhood. To obtain a neighborhood, you must complete a series of missions. After you have completed the missions needed for that neighborhood, you must assault that neighborhood's headquarters. If you are successful in killing all the opposing gang members, you take that neighborhood. Taking more neighborhoods means that you receive more payments, and can recruit more gang members.
Apparently, all the cars available in the game are accessible from the very start. At any point during the game you can "get," and by this I mean steal, any car. This would be a problem simply because the driving missions would be made easier than they should be. The small fix for this would be to make some of the best cars really rare to see throughout the city. A better idea, in my mind, would be to stagger the release of the best cars, perhaps even matching the release of certain cars into the game with a significant event in the story. This way, when you unlock the better cars, there will be more of them, and you won't get the best cars from the start.
Another thing I didn't like about this game was your ability to steal a car and start a kidnapping sequence. Jumping into a vehicle that has a passenger, and driving away before they get out starts a minigame in which all you have to do is evade the cops to get a ransom. A good idea for this portion of the game is that when you hijack a car, the ransoms vary. For example, if I steal an expensive sports car, the ransom for successfully completing the kidnapping is higher than if I steal a cheap minivan. The biggest part of making this activity work, though, is having intelligent cops. Having police chase you isn't very fun if they drive like 10 year old kids, running into walls and having trouble keeping up with you. In order for kidnapping to be truly fun, I think the game should make evading the cops more difficult.
Besides the violence and blood in Saints Row, it looks to be quite an amazing game. With the publisher (THQ) and the developer (Volition) pushing the boundaries on acceptable violence (is beating grannies with a bat too far?), there is sure to be as much controversy over this game as there ever was over Grand Theft Auto. What you do in the game is up to you, but when you play it, you'll definitely be required to do some virtual killing. As for me, I'll be doing quite a bit more than required... That is, when I can get my hands on this game come late August.
P.S. Thanks to Xbox Live for the Saint Rows Demo.
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