Saints Row – Completion

I finished Saints Row. Woo!

The run of missions near the end amped up the difficulty a bit and caused me some frustration – but it was the “I’m having fun and even though I can’t do this and I keep cursing I will keep trying again until I do it” frustration (also known as the good kind).

Of course, that reminds me that, like GTA IV, re-doing missions is annoying at times because you’re often forced to re-do the boring parts before you can re-try the challenging parts. Some missions force you to drive two or three minutes across town before you get to try the mission. That’s no fun. Well, when that happened in GTA IV it was no fun. I liked the driving a lot better in Saints Row so it was a small amount of fun that was at least more fun than GTA IV. :p

I think the hardest mission, for me, was one where I had to blow up a parade of cops cars – which instantly raises the threat level to maximum (meaning the FBI and everyone else comes after you). You’re tasked with driving yourself and a buddy to a “forgiveness” station while helicopters shoot at you and spike-strips are laid out at every corner and SWAT trucks block every road and FBI vehicles smash into you from all direction (even from behind when you’re going full speed). It’s just about a guarantee that no one car will give you the ability to move from Point A to Point B, so you need to get out and into a new car along the way – which is quite difficult with the police force that’s after you. Not only do you have to keep yourself alive, but you have to wait, once you get into a replacement vehicle, for your partner to hop in with you. Move even the slightest bit and he’ll stop, wait for you to stop, and then re-align himself with the door before trying to get in again.

Of course, Saints Row is pretty good about letting you “meta game”. Play through a mission a few times and figure out all the basics, and then you can re-try the mission with better planning and strategy – like driving straight to the destination and waiting for someone instead of following them in a high-speed chase along a meandering route. I think I was able to successfully complete the mission by using a Big Rig. Sure, you’re slow and an easy target, but you can take – and dish out – a ton of damage.

Unfortunately, while Saints Row is pretty good about letting you do things like this – it doesn’t always grant you such freedoms. There are more than a few missions when you’re forced to do exactly one thing and you can’t “out think” the game.

For example, I once failed a mission because I was goofing off after doing the hard part. After completing two or three legs of the mission, my only job was to drive back to collect my reward. No time limit, no bad guys chasing me, nothing to think about except counting the money. Along the way home, I spotted some gang members are decided to take them out – which I did! But a nearby explosion caused my car to tip up and then over in the process. As I finished off the rivals and spun around, I spotted my car explode and – then I failed the mission. *sigh* I guess I wasn’t allowed to drive back in any other vehicle.

But because the game is generally good about letting you do things however you will, I didn’t stress that moment too much. In fact, that’s sort of my recurring theme with this game: because it’s so fun, I overlooked an awful lot of bad. Bad missions. Bad graphic glitches. Bad AI. Bad bugs – oh, dear God, the bad bugs.

I laughed when I watched the end credits; the sheer number of QA on the project was staggering. I can’t imagine none of them spotted the bugs I spotted, so I have to believe that the dev team simply did not have the resources to fix the issues. Well, except for the TYPOs in the credits. That’s pretty unforgivable. And embarassing. Well, it would be if anyone ever paid attention to the credits (not that I really ever do either, to be honest. I paid attention just enough to notice the two typos).

Yes, the game was a ton of fun, despite a feeling that there may have been an effort opposed to that fun, like a few people buried deep within the company making a subversive effort to prevent fun – but failing. I’m more curious now for Saints Row 2 so that I can see how it compares to Saints Row 1. I like to think they started by fixing the bugs from the first one before creating new missions and content for the sequel.

You’re going to have to wait for my thoughts on Saints Row 2, though – as I have a slew of other games on the horizon. But my final verdict on Saints Row 1 is that it was very enjoyable and well worth the time spent on it. It was a sincerely good first effort for the franchise.

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