Tuesday 23 January 2024

All the sinners are Saints Row

Hunkering down over Christmas to avoid spreading COVID did give me a chance to wrap up Cyberpunk: 2077. The game received another reasonably chunky update in December, adding a working metro system amongst other elements. I might have been mildly miffed if there was anything in there that would have made a significant different to my second playthrough, but after taking the train once and admiring the effort put into the system I never used public transport again, fast transport was just so much more convenient; maybe there’s some deep message there about public infrastructure (or rather more prosaically, maybe teleportation is better than buses). My first time around, I had sided with Arasaka at the end of the game (not entirely deliberately, I’d hoped to spring some sort of inside-job double-cross but was never presented with the option to do so). This time I called in favours from the Aldecados, and went in guns blazing. I much preferred it as a conclusion, going out with a bang rather than a whimper, a fitting end to 100+ hours back in Night City.

Casting around for something else to play I noticed that Vampire Survivors had also received a few updates since the last time I played it, so I fired that back up. I particularly enjoyed its Adventures – small sets of missions that take you back to basics, only a single character to start with and a more limited set to unlock. That kept me going until the Epic store gave away the Saints Row reboot for the new year.

It’s a bit of an odd duck, the new Saints Row. I remember enjoying Saints Row 3, and Saints Row 4 before it got a bit silly (having superpowers was fun, but made foolish human contraptions like “cars” and “guns” obsolete rendering chunks of the game a bit pointless); I didn’t think they were that long ago, but Google says 2013. The new game seemed comfortingly familiar right off the bat, popping up a map full of icons to visit for a variety of activities, some from previous games and some new; you get little bonuses for things like driving on the wrong side of the road (something that comes very naturally to a British player) and narrowly missing or indeed slamming into other cars (something that comes very naturally to an incredibly careless driver) (and in the game, ahhhh). Last year I contemplated the changes in games from 1993 to 2003, and the rather more leisurely progress from 2013 to 2023; I’m not sure the new Saints Row brings a whole bunch more to the table compared to its predecessors. It’s a perfectly good game, I’m enjoying running around doing slightly goofy missions (including LARPing and hijacking fast-food toys, so far). Compared to something striving for more realism I appreciate the more laissez-faire approach to law enforcement and physics (without going full bananas), but it feels a little incidental; I’m not sure much of it will stick with me after I head off to something else. £50-ish at launch would have been a bit steep, as a giveaway it was very generous; worth a look, certainly, but not a must-play.

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