While everyone patiently waits for Deep Silver to approve my article on SRIV, here’s a peek at the document I brought with me so I wouldn’t forget anything. I even told Steve Jaros and crew on arrival that I thought maybe “the Saints Row series wasn’t even for original fans like me, anymore.” It’s weird thinking just how much my opinion flipped after spending some quality time with the game. In case you haven’t been following my twitter, I have been gushing over it. Saints Row IV is really like a love letter to fans of the original Saints Row and Saints Row 2.
LOST IN TRANSITION FROM SR2 TO SRTT
· Taxi service and diversion
· Firefighting and fire engine
· Tow Trucks and towing diversion
· Wear options and layers
· Day/night cycle
· NPC Water traffic
· NPC Plane traffic
· Player idle nodes
· Secret areas/interiors
· Variety of npcs
· Chance for aggressive NPC behavior; i.e. they don’t all cower and run like SRTT
· Mission replay
· Cutscene replay
· SRTT had 1/3 the # of missions as SR2 (activity intros don’t count)
· Impromptu melee weapons
· Clothing logos
· # of available melee weapons
· Vehicle dealerships
THE GOOD STUFF ABOUT SRTT:
· Driving was much better
· Gunplay was much better
· The vibrant colors instead of the washed out look of sr2
· The graphics in general
· The VTOL and the hoverbike
· Most of the new animations, especially the taunts and compliments. I hated new the throwing animation and the dual wielding though.
· Specialist and Brutes
· Zimos, Oleg, and Kinzie
· Awesome button
· Pierce went from a complete joke in SR2 to a really likeable and awesome homie in SRTT. That seems like some kind of writing miracle to me.
THE PROBLEMS WITH SRTT
· Part of the fun of SR2 was having a story played (mostly) straight and bringing your own creative sense of anarchy into it. A serious cutscene with the player choosing to wear a hot dog suit is much more interesting and fun than having it forced.
· The direction of crazy with SRTT is fine, but the main story could have been balanced with more badass and serious moments.
· Let the player bring the crazy with a toybox of tools if he wants to. More player choice = better open world.
· The boss should never EVER take shit from anyone. Example, Angel and the Tiger.
· The boss is completely different from SR2 with letting his enemies live in SRTT. The whole thing with sparing Killbane’s life was fucking ridiculous. It felt dumbed down and kiddie-fied or made generic and bland to appeal to everyone.
· The payoffs didn’t pay off. Loren was setup to be a super mastermind and he did nothing cool at all. His death was even anti-climactic with the ball. The power trailer showed Loren taking out a security guard and infiltrating the saints party. THAT is the Loren we wanted.
· In SR2, each villain was interesting and a badass motherfucker. I hung on every cutscene and both hated and loved each rival boss and his entourage. SRTT though? Eh. Killbane was a fucking idiot. Matt was about as non-threatening as you could get and Loren makes dumbass decisions. They were pretty terrible villains.
· SRTT needed more interstitial missions and cutscenes that showed what each gang did. We got that somewhat with the Morningstar and the prostitution and we also kind of got that with the Deckers and the whole cyberspace thing, but only at the end. We didn’t get anything with the Luchadores at all other than a brief mention in a phone call about them dealing steroids.
· Combining all 3 gangs seemed to make SRTT much more linear. With SR2, there were always 3 different missions you could be doing along with tons of diversions, collectibles, and activities. More open world player choice is a good thing.
· Activities masquerading as missions fucking SUCKED
· The unlocks for activities were pathetic and 99% gang customization. The trick to making unlocks fun is to reward the player with specific things from the mission or involved characters. For example, doing all Zimos’ trafficking = Boogie Bus van. See the GotR unlock list.
· Gat’s funeral was only mentioned in ONE of the two cutscenes when you make the choice to save or blow up the building. Many people didn’t even know what the hell was going on with the bridge scene.
· Gat died offscreen; a chump’s death. Every single person I talked to expected him to show up at the end since the offscreen death is a staple of storytelling to bring a character back as a surprise.
· Great writing but bad storytelling. In SR2 there was a lot of interesting dialogue and cutscenes that fleshed out the story and the characters making you care about them. You get none of that in SRTT.
· Extremely limited references to the earlier games. Troy gets a mention in mission 1, and that’s about it. Characters that were in both games didn’t get anything. Not even a reference in passing: Donnie, Tobias, and Mr Wong are nowhere to be seen or heard. Tobias could have easily showed up as the helicopter pilot for the bank heist. Even just a passing reference would have been enough.
· The Dex story wasn’t tied up or even mentioned.
· Character creation sliders were severly restricted in SRTT, especially body fat. The older character creation in SR2 was much more flexible. You can tell this by the fact that most sr2 player bosses look completely different while SRTT bosses almost all look exactly the same with minor differences.
· Steelport was boring and flat other than Downtown. Stilwater had much more interesting areas with different elevations from the underground caverns and sewer waterways to the mountain to the University to Chinatown to the trailer park to the prison lighthouse to the secret islands. You could alway easily tell where you were by the geography and by the npcs that populated it.
· NPCs need to be more agressive. Having 100% of the npcs cower and run was boring as hell. In SR2 they had a chance to attack you, carjack you, rob stores, etc. It made the world a much more interesting place.
· People want npc clothing, including villains! GotR had a huge response from people about that. Give it to them as unlocks!
· Not being able to toggle upgrades was a problem, especially dual wielding. Being stuck on level 4 of weapons wasn’t good either. Also, it felt really cheap that certain weapons were stuck with level 1 or 2 while the rest could go up to level 4.
· The MIXX was not good in SRTT. The thing everyone loved in SR2 was singing along to cheesy top 40 80s/90s songs. It wasn’t really about the era itself. Having Motley Crue, Faith no More, etc was a big mistake.
· Why even have Rim Jobs and make a mission that forces you to customize cars there when you can just do that at your cribs. While it’s nice to quickly do that, you succeeded in making that store completely useless in an already boring city.
· Just because we mod stuff doesn’t mean we want that in the vanilla game. For example, being able to color clothing in the wardrobe. It doesn’t make sense for a new person to the game to have that. I have to wonder if the vehicle customization at the crib was along those lines.
· For vehicle customization at the crib, make it an unlock! Complete all [insert vehicle activity] and get a mechanic at your crib who will let you customize! You don’t even need a real npc at all. Just SAY that’s what you unlocked and make it available in the menu. Easy. That way rim jobs has a point at the beginning of the game for a new player.
· Bring back Fuzz! It was the single best activity from SR2 and beloved by all.
· Escort fucking sucks. Everyone hates it.
· Nu-Shaundi was NOTHING like SR2 Shaundi at all. Why even bother bringing her back when she is a completely different character with a new voice actress that looks and acts nothing like the original.
· Gas pumps need to send cars flying airborne into the sky like sr2. Why would you ever try to “fix” the greatest bug in the history of video games?
THE BOTTOM LINE
· Saints Row should be about giving the player tons and tons of options and freedom to play the game how they want to. SRTT seemed to force the player down a linear path, remove tons of features, and dumb down the customization while giving the player a bland and lifeless flat city with boring scaredy-cat AI.
OTHER THINGS I WOULD LIKE TO SEE
· Custom music capability
· On-foot radio
· Leave in the console. At least in the PC version.
· Setup some kind of informal liason to the modding community for file formats and advice.