After a short hiatus following the absolutely bonkers Saints Row IV, Volition is back with another entry in the open world series. This time, the developer is bringing the craziness down a peg or two from the last few games, and it seems the results are mixed to say the least.
Critics have gone hands on with the Saints Row reboot ahead of launch tomorrow, August 23rd, and here's a sampling of the reviews so far.
Pure Xbox (4/10)
Saints Row is one of the worst urban open world games we've played in recent memory, a bland, janky, old-fashioned mess of a game that fails to deliver on the promise held by a reboot of this zany franchise. Whether it's the buggy combat, boring missions, cringe-inducing dialogue or cookie-cutter side activities, there's always something to feel let down by here. If you're a huge fan of the genre you may well still find something to pass the time in Santa Ileso, there's decent character customisation, a strong soundtrack and plenty of baddies to kill and cars to wreck, but for everyone else this is one game that's virtually impossible to recommend and one of the biggest let-downs of 2022 so far.
Game Informer (8.5/10)
It may not push your new hardware to the limit and is a little rough around the edges, but the latest Saints Row is everything it needs to be, delivering a wonderful comedic experience with plenty of depth. While a little irritating, I was never bored and wanted to see where my team’s goofy antics would take them next. The payoffs are often worth the time investment, and just veering off the beaten path pays dividends. I’m glad the Saints are back, hopefully for another long haul.
An open world that lets you waste time in it for fun feels like a lost art, especially in a post-GTAV world mostly barren of games like GTA. I didn’t really know how I felt about Saints Row until I hit the open-world segment, and this current team showed me what it is capable of. The campaign likely isn’t going to strike a chord with a lot of people, but the muck-about nature of the world map kept me playing longer than I expected. A sequel that leads into its biggest strengths has a lot of potential.
Push Square (7/10)
Saints Row is a largely successful reboot, even if it sometimes feels dangerously outdated in terms of open world design. Its story and characters can be hit and miss, but the experience is carried by fun gameplay and an endearingly dumb sense of humour. Despite the new faces, Saints Row is definitely still Saints Row — just bigger and probably better.
In a world of re-remasters and unsolicited remakes, this new Saints Row does an excellent, necessary job of wiping the series’ slate clean. There’s a dearth of unapologetically fun triple-A games out there, and if that’s what you’re looking for then this reboot confidently ticks that box despite its flaws.
For a game that gives us so much freedom to be exactly who we want to be via its superb customisation options, it’s odd that Saints Row itself struggles to forge its own identity when it comes to the types of wanton criminal activities it makes available to us. There’s definitely no shortage of shallow shoot ‘em up thrills to be had here, but it’s a very familiar and uninspired brand of sandbox fun that’s unlikely to wow anybody who’s played a Saints Row game before, much less a GTA.
Saints Row reins in the absurdity to a fairly significant degree but still manages to indulge in some of the chaotic action and silly hijinks the series is known for. Its story is simple and fairly predictable, yet spending time with its diverse and well-rounded characters makes it worth seeing through to the end. It's a shame the gameplay isn't quite as progressive, opting instead for out-of-date mechanics and level design. Combat is decent, and the story missions are enjoyable when at their most over-the-top, but there's too much bland filler in between. Rebooting the series made sense, yet in many ways, Saints Row is still stuck in the past and struggling to live up to its legacy.
Saints Row finds a better tone than its predecessor, but otherwise doesn’t deliver as a reboot, with gameplay and mission structures inferior to past instalments. With the right expectations, there’s still fun to be had, but the endless bugs, glitches and just awful AI make it hard to recommend at launch. Perhaps best to wait for the inevitable Xbox Game Pass or PlayStation Plus Extra release, after it’s been well patched.
Our overwhelming takeaway after finishing Saints Row was how badly the open-world genre needs Grand Theft Auto VI. How the genre is so past the point of relevance that it needs the flag bearer for the open-world action game to once again provide the roadmap forward.
Clearly there's fun to be had here for some players, given the wide range of scores providing a few fairly high ratings. Still, we did not enjoy our time with the Saints Row reboot here at Pure Xbox, and plenty of others joined us there. The game currently sits at 66 on Metacritic at the time of writing, which is no-doubt disappointing for a series of this calibre.
Are you disappointed by this? Or have you seen enough here to warrant giving the game a go anyway? Let us know!