Big Car Shooty Fun Time

While I’ve been thinking about indulging in random renders or making some form of post regarding members of the Beyond the Tree cast or elements of the first arc that were cut out now when the last stretch is pretty much solidified or whatever, none of these thoughts have been sticking well in my head for something solid to formulate. So instead I’m going to ramble on a bit about another topic entirely, which is to say the interesting matter that a month which contains the PC releases of both Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and Batman: Arkham City (staggered PC release dates can PPC up the fusion reactor, seriously)… the release I anticipate the most is somehow none of the above.

So. Let’s talk Saints Row.

Neither Pierce nor Gat dared to speak up when the Boss made THE FACE

Having never owned an actual gaming console and instead stuck with computers since my Commodore 64, I’ve never played the first in the series, though I’m told I haven’t actually missed out all that much. I did eventually play its sequel, and it’s one of those games that can’t really be mentioned without first pointing out just how utterly horrendous the PC port was. Between performance issues, timing issues, input issues and plain straight up bugs, the PC release of Saints Row 2 is possibly one of the most flawed PC ports ever, and both Volition (the original developer) and CD Projekt (the ones the port was outsourced to) should rightfully feel highly embarssed over its very significant lack of quality.

With CD Projekt typically seen as PC gaming heroes for initiatives such as Good old Games and releasing fan-favorite The Witcher series to critical acclaim (and utter disinterest from me, I’m sorry to say) and Volition admitting just how terrible the port was and vowing to do future ports in-house and properly, I’d like to say that both companies have hopefully come out stronger from the experience. Something which sadly does not change the fact that the PC release of Saints Row 2 is in many cases an utterly broken and unplayable mess.

Da. Smooth like Riding Bike.

What also doesn’t change the fact but does a truly heroic attempt at mitigating is the determined efforts of the modding community, with things such as the Saints Row Powertools to try and fix the very broken timing issues and the Gentlemen of the Row mod to both fix bugs and add content (as well as add on-screen 360 gamepad button indicators because the keyboard controls for steering are utterly broken forever). It doesn’t quite fix the problem that most of the time the game performs about as well as a Tyrannosaurus Rex playing Bruce Wayne on a stage reproduction of Batman the Movie, but it kind of succeeds in taking an all but unplayable game and make it somewhat endurable provided you get along with the other parts of it.

Said other parts naturally being why I’m actually rambling about the game at moment of writing. While I recognize that saying this might make people wonder just what other galaxy I’m from, but I kind of bored of Grand Theft Auto as a series when the third one came along. My fondest memory of the series as a whole is still with the second – I’d somehow managed to obtain a program that could edit cars both visually and numerically, and promptly edited one of them into looking sort of like a shark (you know, if you tilt your head sideways and squint at it) and then gave it amazing durability, weight and engine power. And then took absolute glee in plowing all other vehicles off the road. The third game was comparably more sane than this and while I’m sure there was still random silly driving antics in there, most of what I remember of it is that the story was just really, really boring. I still did manage to complete it somehow, but since then the series just hasn’t been able to grasp my attention any.

I don't get why they're protesting - chainsaws are great for stopping violence.

Enter Saints Row 2, a game that wholely embraces that the main draw is complete over the top gun fighting, car driving insanity, and makes the entire game and setting adhere to that principle. There’s no attempt at justifying your character in any way as any kind of moral good, or even the lesser evil – they’re a complete and unrepentant sociopath whose reaction to running over ten respawning pedestrian NPCs and then subsequently firing a rocket launcher at the nearest car because it looks funny is pretty much exactly the same that the reaction of the player calling the shots will be. Where most games will either outright fail you for not playing along with the justified hero schtick, or turn around and roll their thumbs while impatiently waiting for you to get your act together and start playing along, Saints Row 2 is completely on board with that players will test where the boundaries lie and is for most part happy to simply go along with that. While it results in a game world that is so filled to the brim with over the top insanity that it ceases to be anywhere near believable as “real”, it often succeeds better than many other games I’ve played in syncing up the world of the narrative with the world of the gameplay, and to me comes across as more consistent.

And in one moment, the entire Brotherhood died. They just didn't realize it until later.

What really surprised me though wasn’t the insanity, because I’d been made prepared for that – it was more the times when it actually calmed down from it and presented more somber moments. I hadn’t thought it’d do that, nor that it could do it nearly as successfully as it did. For all its crazy, the game is still aware that sometimes the madness must pause for story to work, and it still tells that story within the framework of the setting itself. More yet, for being a character that really has neither name, past nor identity, and can be nearly anything you want them to be (including putting a male voice on a female character or vice versa, if that’s your preference), the Boss – whom the player plays – has a surprising amout of characterization going for them, with each voice having its own unique lines and quirks. Personally I ended up sticking with the hardass latino voice set, for example, and my Boss of Saints Row 2 subsequently proved to have no inhibitations about breaking out the heavy spanish when she felt it appropriate.

Of course, remember those sociopathic tendencies I mentioned the Boss having? What I found helps the story significantly is that they do come up, on occasion – they don’t halt the story or make it into a moral play or anything, but the game has no problem with being honest about you being every bit as guilty as your enemy in how things escalate, and there’s even a few hidden missions toward the end where some guy from the first game voiced by Captain Anderson shows up and points out just how much crap the boss is causing and how the world might be better off without them. The Boss, of course, disagrees and refuses to really learn from it, but I found myself with an interesting contrast of a game that both embraces crazy, murderous fun while at the same time being totally honest about how it kind of is a really bad thing to really do those sorts of things.

WIth all this in mind, I’m really looking forward to its sequel Saints Row the Third, in the hopes that they’ve recaptured the same kind of narrative balance of madness, fun and seriousness, even if the trailers very much focus on the madness and then crank it up to eleven. I’m not saying I’ll consider it a deeper or better game than any of the aforementioned three, but I think there’s a very good chance it might be the most entertaining simply by knowing when to not take itself seriously.

It’s worth mentioning as an aside that Saints Row the Third releases on the 18’th – or 15’th if you’re in America, because while Volition announced awhile back that the PC release of Saints Row 3 will, in fact, happen on time with the console releases in accordance to what they had said earlier, it still apparently suffers from the Internet having oceans.


12 Responses to “Big Car Shooty Fun Time”

  1. 1 LolDrood
    November 8, 2011 at 03:56

    I think it’s coming out the 15th if you’re -in- America, and the 18th elsewhere, regardless of your nationality. :X

    SRt3 is lookin’ like a lot of fun; it definitely had one of the better trailers I’ve seen in a while, and the face customizations are pretty damn impressive. It’s nice to have character options besides, “Sex Kitten” and “Bustier Sex Kitten”. I’d like more and different tattoo options, but that may be either full release, or DLC, content. it’d be spiffy if you could import your own stuff for tats, too.

    • 2 Nhani
      November 8, 2011 at 12:05

      Well aren’t you the picky one! But k, fien.

      Having tried the Initiation Station thing, I’m left with the feeling that the 18’th can’t come soon enough, really; I don’t know what the actual story will be like or anything, but at least the madness is shaping up to be quite a few degrees of hilarious. I mean, one of the female voice sets is this over the top, super-stereotypical movie Russian accent.

      Of course, browsing the gallery of player-created characters from the Initiation Station is also a… special experience. While there is, unsurprisingly, several Adam Jensens, quite a few Jokers and a handful of Hulks, I’ve also seen a number of Gabe Newells, at least one Notch and all kinds of other things.

      As for importing your own… I don’t think that’d be a standard feature, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the modding crew would step up to figure a way of doing that, heh.

      • 3 LoLDrood
        November 9, 2011 at 03:26

        😦 But I want My Little Pony tattoos! BAH! I ask you, what’s the point of beating someone to death, while on-lookers stare in stunned horror, if you can’t have Pinkie Pie on your fists?

        It may all be a moot point, I get the sense that the campaign is only playable with one default character. (correct me if I’m wrong. I can’t tell anything about the -game- from their site.)

        • 4 Nhani
          November 9, 2011 at 03:48

          Well, one correction coming up, then!

          You can play the whole game (including the campaign, regardless of whether in singleplayer or co-op) as any character you can customize up, nevermind that you can pick any of the 7 voice sets (3 male, 3 female, 1 zombie) to go with any body design. (yes, this means you can put a male voice on a female body or vice versa if you so wish). You can even change it pretty much whenever you’re not in a mission just by running by one of the Image as Designed stores in the city too, giving your character whatever appearance-, voice- or sex change that you might want pretty much whenever.

          There’s one particular trailerized example available here.

      • 5 LolDrood
        November 10, 2011 at 05:58

        Oooo. I like that you can tweak your toon as you play along. 🙂
        I wouldn’t mind more voices (and hair options) but I guess they gotta save something for the $5 DLC packs.

        I look forward to Random Render Days of Hani directing UAVs to drop missiles on rival gang members, while Rei squid’zooka’s stragglers. 😀

  2. 8 Cobs
    November 10, 2011 at 18:41

    Dang you… I got meself that game just to try it out, and…it’s fun. /shakefist

  3. 9 Thomas
    November 13, 2011 at 04:04

    To be completely honest, I Saints Row 2 is one of the games that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, though it should be mentioned that I’m unrealistically patient when it comes to flaws in games, so long as I can make it work. And I’ll never call Saint Row 2 for PC as broken to get anywhere near being unplayable.

    Also, about release dates, Steam originally had Saints Row The Third slated for 18th, but now it shows 15th, and I’m fairly sure that those dates are shown dynamically based on the active account.

  4. May 30, 2013 at 03:25

    I blog frequently and I genuinely thank you for your content.

    The article has truly peaked my interest. I’m going to take a note of your site and keep checking for new details about once per week. I subscribed to your RSS feed too.

  5. April 10, 2014 at 12:54

    Woah your blog is fantastic i adore looking through your content regularly. Be up the great function! You already know, everybody is researching all over just for this data, you might aid all of them significantly.

  6. September 21, 2014 at 10:26

    Coincido absolujtamente en sintonia con todos los
    temas que has publicado, si bien no en cada uno. Un portal
    web perfecto.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: