Something tells me this game
isn't going to be super serious...
This game really surprised me. Put simply, it's the most pure fun I've had with a game in a long time. I've gotten a lot of enjoyment out of a lot of different games over the years, but that enjoyment isn't always derived from the same kinds of experiences. Half-Life in its various forms provides an awesome mix of FPS and environmental puzzle elements that makes for great gameplay. In Arkham Asylum/City, you get to be bad-ass and explore the Batman universe; enough said. Dragon Age had such incredible character interactions and relationship building that you became seriously emotionally invested in your character and your other party members; I'm pretty sure I cried at one point. The Mass Effect series knitted itself into one amazing story that you got to be responsible for shaping.
Those are some of my favorite games, and each has a special quality that make me really enjoy playing it. Saints Row wasn't insanely beautiful, and it didn't have an outstanding story or offer revolutionary gameplay, but it was fun. Like kid on a Toys-R-Us shopping spree fun. In my first post about this game
, I said that the game was fun as long as you didn't take it too seriously. This remained true, and I think the developers did their best to make that happen.
The game doesn't give you much opportunity to take it too seriously. Johnny Gat dies (everyone in-game says he's dead, so why not, right?) in the opening missions, but it's not used more than a minor plot device after that. You might say, "Hey! Gat's death is the whole reason they're fighting the Syndicate so it's pretty major," and I could agree to an extent, but it never really emerges as anything more than fuel on a fire that was already started. Look at Max Payne if you want a game that really revolves around revenge. In Saints Row, there's no real mourning, no flashback sequence as you execute his murderer, just the occasional "that one's for Johnny" or "Johnny would have wanted it that way" lines. So the one thing that could bring you down to a dark place never really reaches up to grab you; leaving your mind free to focus on fighting guys in hot-dog costumes or warding off zombies or Burt-fucking-Reynolds. Yes.
Can you imagine that election campaign?
Seriously, Mayor of Steelport is Burt Reynolds. And the Mayor isn't Burt Reynolds in the same way that the Joker is Mark Hamill; the Mayor is Burt Reynolds who is voiced by Burt Reynolds. This alone tells you that the game you are playing is fun and the people who made it were having fun. What's even more telling is that the Bandit doesn't even show up until you and another character voiced by Sasha Grey (yes, that Sasha Grey
) go to his office to accept the mission to stop the zombie gas from spreading. There's another mission where it's just you and your friend driving to a clothing store, he starts flipping through the stations until he stops on Sublime's What I Got
, and you and he sing along, in the car, for the whole song. I got to the destination early and actually waited for them to finish the song. In one of the final sequences when you're mowing through a bunch of guys to save Shaundi, Bonnie Tyler's I Need a Hero
is playing the whole time.
I know I'm going on and on with these examples, but the game is full of them; and that's the atmosphere that I'm trying to describe when I say the game is whimsical. I've been debating on whether my enjoyment was enabled by low expectations going in (which I had), but I don't think so. If I loved it because I thought it was going to suck and it turned out to be mediocre, my enjoyment would have subsided as I got used to everything and the mediocrity of it all became more and more apparent. But that didn't happen. It started off as being really entertaining and kept being just that. Even as the credits were rolling, showing pictures of the development team and having all the different main character voices sing What I Got
at the same time, it made me think back to games like Warcraft III that had those same kind extras; and it was those little extras that really won me over. In my first post for this game, I also said that the entertainment level may not be sustainable over the course of the whole game, and so I talked about other elements that the developers could exploit to make it stay interesting. In reality, none of those elements really needed to come into play. From my standpoint, the development team made the game fun, and in the end, that's all they really needed to do.