Friday, July 28, 2006

Saints Row Demo Impressions

Well, after hearing about the demo you receive when you pre-order Saints Row, I decided to go down to my local Gamestop (only about a block away) and reserve a copy. I'd been hearing good things about it from others so I figured I would probably be picking it up anyways.

This game has been touted as a "GTA killer". That's been thrown around a lot recently, and every game that earned that tile before release has failed to even be half as good as the game it was meant to top, one of the biggest examples was True Crime: Streets of LA.

Anyways, I got the demo and popped it in my 360. The first thing I noticed were the graphics, which weren't anything special. They certainly could've been much better, but then again, I didn't expect much after seeing the screenshots. I did observe some framerate issues as well. It was pretty bad in some spots, slowing down to a crawl. On the bright side, I've heard the demo was from this years E3 and was pretty much rushed to make it in time for the show and that the developers have already cleaned up the framerate issues.

The character creation system is very deep. You truly can create a character that looks at least similar to you if you try hard enough. Even with the limited demo options, there were at least thousands of different characters you could create. Very impressive.

Of course, the gameplay is all that matters and surprisingly enough, Saints Row Delivers. The game starts you off in the middle of the city, and your first mission is becoming a member of the 3rd Street Saints, which involves an initiation fight. The hand to hand fighting controls are a lot deeper than in many other third person action games. Impressive. Then you're tasked with driving one of your fellow gang members to a weapons store to pick up a weapon and take out a few rival gang members. The driving physics felt a little floaty but it wasn't terrible. It just took some getting used to. The same goes for the camera and aiming controls. The default controls felt overly sensitive and needed to be scaled back. After that I found it enjoyable. It was a lot easier to use in a hectic shootout than GTA's. After completing the mission, I drove down to the "Sloppy Seconds" clothing store to pick up some new clothes. Again, much more customization. I like that. Then it was on to another three missions, the first involving picking up ummm... "street walkers" (I'm not going to write exactly what was printed in the game) and delivering them to a brothel. The second involved taking over an abandoned liquor store for use as a hideout. After that, I teamed up with two other high ranking gang members to take out lieutenants of rival gangs who were meeting down by the docks. I've got to say I'm impressed with the mission variety I've seen so far.

All in all, I was highly impressed with this game. Could it live up to the hype and become a GTA killer? It certainly has potential. I will be keeping a close eye on this one until its release next month.

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