Saints Row

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Saints Row (Hands-Off) – Preview

We thought we’d seen the last of the 3rd Street Saints back in 2013, back when they had gained so much popularity that the boss had become the President of the United States, only to see the world destroyed by the alien Zin Empire. In a Matrix-like turn of events, the Saints escaped the simulation and gave themselves superpowers, and moved to defeat the Zin holding them prisoner.

With the world destroyed, it certainly seemed like the Saints Row franchise had run its course. After nine long years, Volition has come back with a fresh reboot, and we were invited to take part in the hands-off preview, including thirty minutes of gameplay that showed off the new and returning features.

The first, and probably the most welcomed feature we noticed is that many aspects of the game have been given a more realistic approach. From what we witnessed, the vehicles and characters don’t seem as cartoony as they previously did. Instead, they’ve taken a more modern and realistic approach to their design. However, it wouldn’t be Saints Row without the near-unlimited amount of customisation available, and veterans of the franchise will be happy to know you can make your characters and vehicles just as crazy as you could in the originals.

As fun as it was running around as part of an over-the-top and incredibly unstable gang, the new cast of characters are completely different from what returning players would be used to. Instead, we’re presented with a young group of social outcasts who work as more of a family unit rather than a definitive Boss and Underlings situation. Based on the gameplay we were treated to, the new crew will have a lot more dynamic interactions with each other. Even the lowly NPC pedestrians will react more diversely.

Speaking of diversity, Saints Row takes place in the fictional Santo Ileso, a multicultural city full of life and an abundance of impressive locations to explore. From tent cities to casinos, busy city streets to unknown bars along dusty roads, there looks to be plenty to see and do, and it’s all yours for the taking.

It wouldn’t be Saints Row without at least some violence, and the new Saints Row looks to have it in abundance. While hard to judge in a hands-off preview, the switching between gunfights and melee looked to be very smooth in transition, complete with what looked like combo-moves and finishers. Abilities and upgrades are making a comeback as well, with the player being able to choose how they want to progress the character as they progress through the ranks. Some of these will be extremely valuable when taking part in returning gameplay, such as my personal favourite, the Mayhem side missions, while others will be more suited to traversing the open world.

With such a large world to explore, it’s only fair that there will be a variety of vehicles to choose from, and once again, customisation plays a huge role in this. While they may initially look a touch more realistic than previous titles, you can still go to town when it comes to doing them up however you want.

With enough money, you can turn that family sedan into a street racing beast, complete with six-foot-tall exhaust pipes spitting fire as you change gears – You’ll just need to find your local Jim Robs. Alternatively, you can take to the skies, gliding with your own personal wingsuit, launching off the heads of unsuspecting pedestrians to continue your Spiderman-like ventures.

We thought we had outgrown the Saints Row franchise, particularly after Saints Row IV was released. At the time it felt too cartoony for my tastes, but this upcoming title has brought them back down to Earth and given the Saints a new lease on life. It looks more modern, yet it still contains that weird and wacky aspect so many of us grew to love. It feels familiar, but also new at the same time. Volition has rekindled our interest, and we’re truly excited to see how this pans out.

Written by: MKAU Gaming


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