The rumour mill has been hinting about a new entry to the Saints Row series for a couple of weeks now, and I am excited as hell. I may have arrived late to the franchise, but damn if I don’t love it all the hotter for it. As GameGrin’s forefront authority on the Third Street Saints, and Saints-related paraphernalia, I’m taking it upon myself to rank the Saints Row titles.
5. Saints Row
No, this doesn’t mean it is the worst of the series, it just so happens to be the fifth best. The original exploits of the Playa (the protagonist), begin after he is almost gunned down by punks, and are some of the most fun you can have on the Xbox 360. He wrote unbiasedly in an article about Saints Row… You’re recruited into the Third Street Saints, and have to help take down all of the other gangs in Stillwater. You’re introduced to Johnny Gat, possibly the most dangerous man in gaming, and Julius Little, the leader of the gang. The game ends with the Playa being blown up by Julius on a boat, which is kind of a downer as well as a shocker. Who kills off their protagonist in the first game?! Being able to summon any car you’d stored in your garage was a great addition to the GTA-’em up genre, as well as phone numbers scattered about on billboards and posters, which you could call with your in-game phone to hear messages. That was missing from the third game onwards, but it was recently adopted by Rockstar’s series...
4. Gat Out of Hell
The only reasons this isn’t higher up are the soundtrack and the length. Although it does have an awesome musical number, there is literally no radio in Hell, so when the President (formerly Playa) is dragged there against his will, you’re not treated to any awesome radio stations. It was billed as a standalone DLC for Saints Row IV, and sold as such, so the length is understandable, and it does let you control Johnny Gat and relative newcomer Kinzie Kensington, but it only deserves fourth place. The multiple endings and literally storybook cutscenes count against it as much as the lack of soundtrack, though the writing never fails to make me laugh. Collecting Satan’s Damned Souls Orientation Guide chapters spread around Hell are particularly hilarious.
3. Saints Row IV
Taking place before Gat Out of Hell, this entry saw The Boss (formerly Playa) becoming President of the United States of America. And then aliens invaded, sticking everyone into a simulation ala The Matrix. This is why IV is in third place -- The Simulation, as it’s always refered to, is literally an excuse to reuse the assets of Steelport from Saints Row The Third, which has never made sense to me. Head alien Zinyak wants to break The President’s spirit, and yet didn’t make The Simulation his hometown of Stillwater. Seeing Steelport, which he spent a few months in, and destroying parts of it has much less oomph than tearing apart Stillwater. So it can take its alien guns, super powers and Mass Effect references, and stay at third place -- and it’s this high because Stan Bush’s The Touch is in the soundtrack, and there are four options for male voice: labeled 1-3 and Nolan North.
2. Saints Row The Third
It was this game which brought me into the series with a trailer -- people slapping other people about with giant purple dildos, whilst an insane Japanese man in a cat mascot head cheered on. I went to eBay and bought the first two, and by the time I played them through, I was hooked on the characters. The Boss (formerly Playa) had brought the Saints from a street gang to international stardom -- movies, clothing lines, an energy drink… But robbing the wrong people saw them stranded in Steelport with no money or resources. The first home base is one of the gang members’ ex boyfriends, so they have to find somewhere more suitable. The resulting mission is why the start of The Third is my most played section of any game. I’m not a fan of Kanye West’s, but his song Power comes on as you’re jumping out of a helicopter, plays whilst you murder your way through a penthouse apartment -- and it’s exhilarating. There’s the aforementioned dildo weapon, as well as a violent Japanese game show you get to take part in, but this is still only my second favourite title -- though it was close!
1: Saints Row 2
There are people who dislike all that came after it, but few can argue that Saints Row 2 is high in their estimation. Returning from a coma, Playa finds Stillwater changed, and a conglomerate basically in charge of the city. The Saints have disbanded due to Julius going into hiding and Johnny Gat being on trial for 387 counts of murder, and one count of attempted murder. It’s up to Playa to become The Boss, and beat down all of the gangs who have taken over the territory formerly held by the Saints. Whilst not as insane as The Third would later be, 2 does go further than the first game to show how brutal gang warfare is. Characters are introduced, others die, retribution is sought, all whilst having the best soundtrack out of all five titles, and the best side missions too. The others have Insurance Fraud, but only 2 has you chasing down bad guys whilst dressed as a cop for a TV show. Only 2 lets you spray raw sewage at cars, houses and boats for cash. And, most shockingly of all, 2 is the last title that lets you compete in a destruction derby.
And that is why Saints Row 2 is the best.