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Way back in 2006, you could hardly move for Grand Theft Auto games. It was the interim period between Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and Grand Theft Auto 4. A slew of copycat titles adorned the shelves of gamers, and the world had really embraced the 3D, open-world action-adventure experience.
Among these titles was the original Saints Row. Long before the series was known for its madcap gameplay, plots and erm... phallic weaponry, the more understated original ticked all the boxes of an enjoyable time, before the next installments gradually became more and more unhinged.
It's perhaps this reason of wanting to bring the series under control, that developers Deep Silver Volition have decided to completely reboot the franchise, with the announcement being made during the Gamescom pre-show. Check out the trailer right here.
This reboot was teased in the days and weeks prior to its official announcement, first through the Saints Row website, which showed a brick wall with the word 'rebooting' emblazoned upon it. As if that weren't enough of a hint, Geoff Keighley (host of the pre-Gamescom livestream in which the announcement was made) tweeted that they were "Bossing it" - a clear reference to the player character from the series.
So why a reboot now? It's been six years since the last Saints Row game (Saints Row IV: Gat Out Of Hell) and it's safe to say the series had taken a more... interesting tangent to its more grounded (somehow) brethren, Grand Theft Auto. I mean once you have your player go to space to fight aliens, making the game more grounded in literal terms is probably a safe course of action. But more than that, Deep Silver Volition wanted it to better fit with the life and experiences the game's player base are more familiar with.
Themes of dealing with debt, student loans and fighting your way up through the ranks of society to live the American Dream are all heavily referenced. The player is encouraged to take matters into their own hands and build a criminal empire, as we've no doubt all fantasised about at some point or another.
Saints Row will take place in the new, fictional city of Santo Ileso, imagined to be in the American Southwest. It will have nine distinct districts ranging from a sprawling financial district with huge skyscrapers, to a glitzy area for the rich and famous to unwind, filled with restaurants and mansions. This being a sandbox game at its core will give players plenty to do in the arid stretches between the more built up areas, and it's also going to be one of the largest open-worlds Deep Silver Volition have ever made.
Aside from the world, the core of any Saints Row game is undoubtedly the characters that make up the titular Saints Row gang. Legendary Saints such as Johnny Gat may not be making an appearance in the reboot of the game (though let's be honest, he probably will be in it in some form or another because he's Johnny Gat) Deep Silver Volition have a new cast ready to make a name for themselves.
Players will take control of The Boss - who will be fully customisable with things like their voice, appearance and clothes all up for modification. Then there's Eli, who's the brains of the outfit. Originally moving to Santo Ileso to make his fortune by building his own entrepreneurial business, he realises that building a criminal organisation might be easier.
Next up is Neenah. Working as a mechanic for one of the other gangs in the city, she has a life-long love of cars and acts as the driver for the Saints. Rounding out the four main characters is Kevin - a DJ and fiercely loyal friend who also defected from one of the other criminal outfits in Santo Ileso.
Those old enough to remember the original Saints Row game will remember that it riffed quite heavily on the Grand Theft Auto formula of expanding your gang's territory, at the expense of your rivals. In the rebooted Saints Row, the city will be filled with opposition that must be overcome in order for your fledgling gang to not just survive, but thrive. Three established gangs stand in your way. Los Panteros are all about muscle and brute strength. Contrastingly, Martial Defense Industries use laser focused attacks with their advanced tech and overwhelming wealth. Finally there's the Idols, who's visual flair and overwhelming numbers make them dangerous if underestimated.
One of the key selling points of Saints Row games in the past, has been the ability to play co-op, and that's something that Deep Silver Volition will be bringing back for this reboot. Not only that, but players will be able to play co-op cross-generationally between consoles meaning nobody gets left behind.
So all things considered, it sounds like Saints Row is shaping up to be an interesting revival of the franchise. Leaning more towards the grounded reality but still having those off-the-wall and iconic 'Saints' moments might be a hard balance to strike, but from the sounds of it, the development team behind the game fully like their chances of pulling it off. Saints Row will release on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Epic on February 25 2022.
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