I just cleared the 20-hour mark in Saints Row. And what stands out to me the most? It’s a fun game. I’m really enjoying it and I always look forward to playing. That said, bugs are a major nuisance – so I’m taking a moment to comment on the first seven issues I would have bugged if I were on their QA team:
- The Main Menu defaults to New Game, not Continue. When you click New Game, you jump to a loading screen which then takes you to character creation. If you wanted to Continue but accidentally hit New Game, it’s going to take you a little while to get back to the menu. If the game defaults to Continue, then all it does is bring up the available saves. No load time necessary. And most likely, that’s what you want to do.
- Audio volume levels start at maximum, then shift to the user settings. Every time I jump into a car, start up a game, go through a cutscene, etc. – the radio kicks in at full volume before dipping down. Annoying.
- There’s some strange stuff happening with the car physics, but it’s usually nothing too bothersome. Sometimes I drive under or over a car. Sometimes I hit a car head-on and we both come to an instant stop – with no damage or collision impact. Sometimes my car cannot drive over a short curb. Etc. Wonky as they may be, sometimes it makes for interesting happenings: like driving over a car and making it explode, resulting in my car soaring through the air. I launched over a bridge and crashed into the sea. Fun!
- The x/y-axis for the controller [LS] seems a little tight. That results in the character occasionally walking in a direction even though I’m not even touching the controller. This happens a lot and can be irritating. I’ve actually been killed a few times because of it. For example, I’ll attempt to dive into a car to get away from trouble. I hit Y to enter, my player races to the door, opens it, and then slowly walks away. This happened three times in a row the other night!
- There have been a lot of graphic glitches. Sometimes they scare me. I’ll be driving along and my car will disappear or the road will disappear. Other times, it’s just the standard “popping” where it jumps from low-res to high-res textures.
- Pathfinding is generally bad. During one mission, I tried to lead my gang up a set of stairs and past some metal railings. They weren’t able to handle that and I actually had to take a round-about way to get my gang to the proper location. Another time one of my gang members couldn’t get past an open car door and I had to jump in-and-out of the car a few times before she could successfully leave the car. Behavior like this is fairly normal for the game.
- As you play, you claim neighborhoods as income-generating territories. Occasionally, a rival gang attempts to steal one of your territories, forcing you to kill a certain number of rival gang leaders. Unfortunately, the leaders are often placed right on the border of the territory or just outside it, or placed in a way that you have to leave the territory to get to their location. Every time you step outside of the territory you get a warning telling you that you have 30 seconds to return to the combat zone. There really should have been some effort made to center the gang leaders within the territory.
I’d have been tempted to file “inconsistent difficulty” as a bug, but that’s sort of an accepted issue when dealing with games of this nature where anything can and will happen. In other words, some missions seem impossible because of how events proceed. But after a dozen tries, everything works in your favor and you get through the mission without a sweat.
For example, I came upon a combat zone and was having difficulty getting past it. After a series of tries, I accidentally struck a critical area with a rocket, as I was approaching the area – resulting in a series of chain reaction explosions that wiped out the entire resistance. Go figure.
The game is buggy and it does require some patience, but fortunately it’s also very fun and that compels me to overlook the issues as I play. Maybe for the next post I’ll update my impressions on the game as a whole.
[edit #1] I had an awesome sequence just now. I think it was the last West-Side Ballerz mission. I had to chase some guy named Prince on a freeway/bridge. He was driving away in a car-carrying truck. While he throws bombs at you and random goons hassle you, you have to shoot cars off the truck to damage the truck. Once you dislodge him from the carrier, you chase the cab down and blow him up.
I tried and failed maybe 3 or 4 times, but despite the difficulty and bad frame rate I was enjoying the challenge. But then, on my next effort, the truck’s cab jammed into the ground, forcing the carrier behind it into a vertical position – kind of like a mech. And it was stuck. So instead of a tough driving sequence, I just had to circle around the truck, fighting goons and taking shots at the attached cars. Once the truck had sustained enough damage that the cab dislodged, it fell down through the bridge. Because I was on the freeway, there was no way for me to go to it. I couldn’t jump down to the road below without dying. I couldn’t drive back to the connecting road without abandoning the mission.
After killing dozens of hassling goons, I spotted that the freeway has supports on its side where I could stand and stay away from the goons. I figured maybe I could line up some shots from there on the cab. I hopped over the freeway side and it worked perfectly – except, the map where the cab was had never drawn in! It was just empty black space. I could hear the cab but I could not see it. I waited for a moment and then a screen popped up – success! I won the mission! Hahaha. Go figure.
[edit #2] During the mission “The King and I”, you’re told to lead three separate groups into an ambush. It’s pretty simple. You drive up to the group, shoot at them or something to get their attention, they hop into a car, and then you drive just fast enough to keep them close to you while leading them to the target location.
The mission was going fine until I hit the third group. I got to the location and waited. And waited. And waited. I had lots of goons to fight but the car that was supposed to follow – wasn’t following. Finally, I got out of my car and looked around. I found their car stashed nearby beneath a bridge, and a group of two running away from their car. But! They were running away from the car and into the underside of the bridge. Or, in other words, it looked like they were stuck.
Fortunately, the group was tagged as immortal. So to resolve the situation, I ran back to my car, hopped in, lined myself up with the two guys, and then plowed into them full speed. It launched them away from the bridge area and seemed to re-set them, as they then ran back to the car and properly hopped inside to let me complete the mission.
[edit #3] I was racing back to home to complete a mission and I did a power slide through a turn a little too late. The right-side of my car smashed into a brick fence. One of my passengers vanished, as did the car. My character and the two remaining passengers were all posed as if they were sitting in the car. They even occasionally stood up as if they were firing over the roof of the car. At one point, a police officer ran into the dead-center of where the car would be, standing between the driver and the front-seat passenger, before getting shot by the back-seat passenger. I waited for about 30-to-45 seconds before deciding to re-load the mission – when the car popped back into existence, along with the missing passenger, and we were going full speed as if nothing out of the ordinary had ever happened.