Monday, July 23, 2012

"Saints Row felt like a book of punchlines slapping my face repeatedly. Yes, I see the comedic content. I just don't care."

Alright, so. I played Just Cause 2 GTA: Japan Saints Row: The Third the other day on my brother's computer, and I have to say: points for style, but your game is one of the shallowest interactive experiences I've had since Scribblenauts. The game started out strong, with an entertaining intro cutscene and mission. After that it just... got really boring. The whole game gave off a very strong vibe of trying for Refuge in Audacity, and it only half-worked. They got the audacity part right, but it gets old fast. After the intro mission, it just felt... Done. Finished. Like there's nothing else to do. It has the sandbox problem in abundance. Just Cause 2 did sandboxing right - in both games my character was absurdly overpowered, with ready supplies of weapons and vehicles to plow through whatever enemies I faced. The worst-case scenario: I might have to take cover once or twice.
But in Just Cause 2 I only had to wander around and find some interesting terrain and suddenly there was an enemy camp in sight, ripe for the picking. It was hard to escape things to do. In Saints Row, on the other hand, the landscape is uninspired, there's no challenge in grinding for cash (regular paychecks, woohoo!), and the few 'story' missions I played were long, boring, and unrewarding.

As for the "wackiness" of Saints Row, it just failed to deliver. Sure, it had silly things. I can fire mind-control octopi at whoever I want, and yes, you can run around hitting people with a dildo, and at one point I saw a van with a giant mascot head on the front with a flamethrower in its mouth. Saints Row felt like a book of punchlines slapping my face repeatedly. Yes, I see the comedic content. I just don't care.

And now, before the end of this short review, I want to mention the sexual content in Saints Row. The immaturity of putting people in bondage gear for no reason isn't what bothers me - what bothers me is that bondage gear is apparently hilarious. Apparently giant dildos are hilarious. It's cheap and offensive. I don't mind the bondage gear or the dildos - I just mind the fact that they apparently count as "humor". Saints Row takes immaturity as a form of humor way too far, to the point that it loses all its shock value and just becomes alternately boring and offensive.

That said, if you want to go around hitting people with a giant dildo, fine. Go do it. Saints Row is your game. Just don't be surprised when it doesn't have the universal entertainment value you might think.

Oh, and for the other side of the review: The driving controls are pretty tight, although the flying is slow and pretty meh. Character customization was surprisingly lacking given how much time I spent and how many options it gives you (I don't know why we need fifty different mascot heads to choose from). Graphics are good, technically speaking, although there's not much interesting to see - the city is boring and repetitive. The shooting was pretty good, although uninspired. The high points, gameplay-wise, were the driving (I'm a sucker for any game with a handbrake) and the fact that whenever you want you can do a randomly-chosen special melee attack which varies from pro wrestling suplexes to flying punches to, uh, the ol' punch-in-the-nuts. I liked that functionality.

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