I finished another video game, yay! And got something like 650 gamer points in the bargain, also yay! Now I should maybe get around to finding out why my wireless adapter no longer works so I can resume being online. Or I suppose I could always move the cable modem into the TV room and go ethernet, now that my desktop has been broken for six months with no signs of me caring enough to fix it. It’s possible none of that is really relevant, except insofar as I’m pretty much console or nothing these days. Anyway, the coolness here is that I played Saints Row to the end of the plot, and did almost every single part of the non-plot as well.
As far as the game itself, it’s pretty easy to explain. Big sandbox game where you can drive or run around and explore the world and listen to all the people talking and radio stations playing and interact with things in various surprising and unsurprising ways. Plus an attached plot about a gang war that your character is involved in, in which the leaders of your gang keep placing more and more trust in you as you prove yourself cool by performing their missions, wearing their colors, and otherwise interacting with the city in such a way that your face becomes more and more known by the general populace. And a pretty deep cast of actors whose voices you might recognize. Which is to say, it’s nearly exactly the same as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, at least on the surface. (Now, there’s a game I never finished. Alas.)
Below the surface, there are a lot of changes that make this one easier to swallow. No impossible to maneuver airplane and helicopter controls. (Well, mostly the airplanes were the hard bit.) Instead of having to wander around hoping to stumble upon the side missions, they are mostly in plain sight on the map, waiting for you to take them on at your leisure. But there are still a few collection items to discover as well, for people who like looking under every rock. And there are definitely other minor tweaks and differences around that are harder to explain in a blurb, like the cell phone. The long and short of it is that Saints Row felt like a polished, optimized version of the GTA games. As long as GTA 4 due out in a couple of months has taken note of even a portion of these refinements while managing to hold onto the spare, evocative storytelling of GTA 3 (not so much Vice City or San Andreas, though they had their own charms), it is going to be the game to beat this year.
Mind you, the storyline for Saints Row here was pretty cool. I did, after all, complete 95% of everything available in the game.