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Saints Row (series)

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Saints Row is a video game franchise created by Volition, Inc. and published by THQ. Typically, gameplay is presented in third-person in open world format. Because of the mixture of nonlinear gameplay with action, adventure and driving sequences, the series is referred to as being sandbox style.

After completing Red Faction II in late 2002, developer Volition began work on the original Saints Row game in mid 2003. The game was released in 2006 to critical acclaim and commercial success. A sequel was released in 2008 to similar acclaim but greater commercial success, and a third instalment is in development and due for release in 2012. From Saints Row and Saints Row 2, the series has had unit sales in excess of six million, making it a best-selling video game franchise.


Saints Row

Saints Row was the first installment in the series as a whole, having begun development in mid 2003 as a PlayStation 2 title under the name Bling Bling.[1] The game was first announced at E3 2005 for the Xbox 360. As the first sandbox style video game to be released for the Xbox 360, Saints Row was widely anticipated; its pre-beta demo build set records after being downloaded nearly four hundred thousand times within a week.[2] It had sales in excess of five hundred thousand during its September 2006 release month, and was critically acclaimed. To date, the game has had sales in excess of two million units.[3]

The game is set in the fictional city Stilwater. The player character is inducted into the 3rd Street Saints gang, and assists the Saints in eliminating three rival gangs that control the city. After the gangs have been eliminated, Police Chief Monroe kidnaps Julius Little and offers the player to exchange Julius' freedom for mayor Marshall Winslow's life. After Winslow is assassinated, Monroe is murdered by the Saints, and Julius is freed. The new mayor Alderman Hughes invites the player character aboard his private yacht, which is subsequently blown up apparently killing all on board. The game was renown for being the first seventh-generation sandbox game, and introduces new features which have since become staples to the genre. It introduces online multiplayer, an in-game mobile phone, GPS navigation, and elaborate character and vehicle customization.[4][5]

Saints Row 2

Saints Row 2 begun development in mid 2006, a few months before the Xbox 360 release of Saints Row.[6] While a PlayStation 3 port of Saints Row was in development, it was cancelled when Saints Row 2 was first officially confirmed in May 2007.[7] A Microsoft Windows port, announced in June 2008, eventually released in the early months of 2009. Three downloadable content packs were developed and launched in mid 2009 (for console only), including Ultor Exposed and Corporate Warfare.

Saints Row 2 is set five years after Saints Row; the player character awakes in a prison hospital having survived the yacht explosion. After escaping prison, the player character revives the 3rd Street Saints and, through a course of events, reclaims Stilwater from three new gangs that have had the city under their control. The Ultor Corporation, responsible for Stilwater's redevelopment, attempt to extinguish the Saints. However, a press conference held by Ultor's CEO Dane Vogel is interrupted when the Saints assault it, culminating to Vogel's assassination and the game's conclusion. The game builds upon the fundamentals of Saints Row: for example the respect system, activities, customisation and vehicles. It expands the Stilwater setting and adds new gameplay features and content.[8]

Saints Row: Drive-By

Saints Row: Drive-By is a spin-off of the main series, initially announced at E3 2010 for the Nintendo 3DS. It was later revealed that the game will also be available for the Xbox 360 as an Xbox Live Arcade game and for the PlayStation 3 as a PlayStation Network game featuring 3D graphics.[9] The game is tied to Saints Row 3, as it is part of the marketing campaign for the game. Playing Saints Row: Drive-By will unlock exclusive content for use in Saints Row 3, and vice versa.[10]

Saints Row 3

Saints Row 3 begun early development in September 2008, a month before Saints Row 2 was due to release.[11] The game's first official announcement was supposed to be at E3 2010, but it was withdrawn from the trade show and will debut at the Spike Video Game Awards in December 2010.[12] THQ project that the game will be released in the later half of 2011.

Twenty-three year old Ashley Ames suffered burns to eighty percent of her body in a house fire in Urbana, Illinois on 28 May 2010, and passed away a week later.[13] Saints Row 3 senior writer Steve Jaros, who is an Urbana resident, raised money for the Ames' family to pay off her medical bills by auctioning off a voice acting role in Saints Row 3. The highest bidder will have the opportunity to voice a non-player character pedestrian for the game; Jaros said that "you will get to scream, curse, be hit by cars and shoot guns".[14] The starting bid for the acting role was US$300. The bidding closed on the 11th of August 2010. The winning bid was $1,725.[15]

Saints Row IV

Saints Row IV was released in 2013 for the Linux, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions were released in January of 2015. The game is available to download on Steam and retains gameplay from previous installments, as well as adding new features such as superpowers and new weapons such as the Dubstep gun.

The Boss, who is now president of the United States, is under attack by hostile alien forces, who attempt to destroy the Earth. The Boss stops the nuclear missile from exploding, and safely lands in the oval office. After exploring the alien ship, the boss meets Zinyak, a very muscular alien commander who attacks him. Zinyak destroys Earth and traps the boss as well as the rest of his friends inside a simulation of Steelport.

The Boss meets up with several characters from previous games including Kinzie Washington, Matt Miller, Shaundi, Pierce, Ben King, etc.


The Saints Row series is part of a genre known as sandbox games. This genre differentiates from others in that gameplay takes place in open world format. Typically, the player can explore a vast, open map from the early stages of the game and is free to progress through the storyline at leisure. The series combines elements of action, adventure and vehicular gameplay.The player can freely roam the virtual world on foot or by use of vehicles and make use of an array of weapon and mêlée based combat. Illegal activity such as engaging computer-controlled civilians and police officers will insinuate a proactive and potentially lethal response from authoritative figures. In the instance of death or arrest, the player will respawn at a nearby hospital or police station.[16]

An emphasis is put on urban warfare; the player character is affiliated with a hip-hop cultured street gang known as the Third Street Saints. Game missions are structurally divided into separate mission arcs. These mission arcs do not intertwine but can be played through altogether at once or separately by the player. Missions are unlocked by accruing respect points; respect is game currency earned by playing non-story mini-games known as activities and diversions.[17] Customization also constitutes a large portion of gameplay. The player has the ability to customise their character's appearance and clothing, can take certain vehicles to chop shops for modification and in Saints Row 2 is able to decorate the interior of in-game safehouses and refine the behaviour of the Third Street Saints gang.[18]


The setting of both Saints Row and Saints Row 2 is the fictional city of Stilwater, located in the mid-western state of Michigan, USA.[19] Stilwater is primarily based on the real-world American cities Chicago and Detroit.[19] During the early development process of Saints Row, the city was designed before the script was assembled and was more than four times the size of its final revision but was cropped to a smaller revision because development resources could not support a city of that size.[20] During its development phase the city went through consistent expansion and cropping; examples such as the shopping mall and trailer park districts in Saints Row 2's city revision were originally included in early designs of Saints Row's city revision.[20] A design challenge was creating the city without load-screen interferences and as such the engine was designed to stream around the player's location in individual chunks of the city.[1] The city was designed to feel diverse and have a variance of districts; Saints Row product art director Matt Flegel commented that "We wanted the city to cover all styles, from the towering sky scrapers of downtown to the gritty industrial feel of the factory district. We want the player to feel the changes between the districts, rather than just noticing the visual difference."[21] The districts were also designed to feel relevant to the gangs that controlled them.[21]

The Stilwater of Saints Row 2 is significantly different to its original rendition; the city is 45% bigger than its counterpart,[22] having being rebuilt from a devastating earthquake, as the plot follows.[23] Much of the city from Saints Row is redeveloped in Saints Row 2, albeit becoming more "alive" and full of depth.[24] Saints Row 2 lead producer Greg Donovan said that "Stilwater in Saints Row 2 is very different from Saints Row. In fact, every detail has been touched to some degree or another. [...] I think that what will end up happening is that people who played Saints Row or are fans of the franchise are going to have a great time exploring the city and looking for new things. [Also], people that are new to Saints Row 2 are just going to be presented with a huge, very dispersive and very different looking environment, it's very well polished and detailed."[25] There are no in-game load screens in Saints Row 2,[26] a notable feat as the game allows for seamless co-operative play. There are over 130 interiors within the city, including over ninety different shops.[27] The city is more dynamic and lifelike in Saints Row 2, as the artificial intelligence is smarter i.e. civilians will interact with each other.[28] Additionally, certain elements of Saints Row 2's environment are destructible as the game shares some technology with the Volition-developed Red Faction: Guerilla game.[29] Its environment also features numerous landmarks and Easter eggs; one such feature won "Top Easter Egg of 2008".[30]


Critical reception

Template:VG series reviews Both Saints Row and Saints Row 2 received critical acclaim for their Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 ports. However, the mobile phone ports of both games as well as the Windows port of Saints Row 2 received a more mixed response. Additionally, the downloadable content packs for Saints Row 2 received mostly average reviews.

The Xbox 360 port of Saints Row was generally critical acclaimed. It received an 82% and 81% from review aggregators GameRankings and Metacritic respectively.[31][32] IGN reviewer Douglass Perry awarded the game an 8.5/10, praising the presentation and gameplay while pointing out technical shortcomings as well as the often forced humour.[33] GameSpot reviewer Greg Kasavin awarded the game an 8.3/10, giving credit to the driving, the action, the presentation and the story. However, he criticised the lack of polish and lack of variety in mission design.[34] It was hailed as "the best reason to own a 360 this side of Oblivion and a "must buy" by GamePro reviewer Vicious Sid, who awarded it five stars out of five.[35] Russell Garbutt of Game Over Online said that it "succeeds in raising the next-gen bar for this genre" and awarded it a 94% score.[36]

Both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 ports of Saints Row 2 received equal critical acclaim. It received an 82% and 83% from GameRankings respectively,[37][38] and 81% and 82% from Metacritic respectively.[39][40] PGNx Media reviewer Adam Nunez awarded the game 9.6/10 and layered praise onto most aspects of the game, summing up by saying "In terms of pure, unadulterated fun, Saints Row 2 is in a league of its own".[41] GameSpy reviewer Gerald Villoria awarded the game four and a half stars out of five and said that "Saints Row 2 offers up a shooting and driving experience that is plenty of fun [...] It's self-consciously funny in its irreverence, and its low-brow humor will definitely appeal to much of its audience".[42] IGN reviewer Nate Ahearn awarded Saints Row 2 an 8.2/10, praising the gameplay but criticizing the lack of polish and the weak artificial intelligence.[43] However, the PC port of Saints Row 2 received a much less positive response. It received an aggregated score of 70% and 72% from GameRankings and Metacritic.[44][45]

Commercial success

Saints Row 2 shipped over two million units for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 during October 2008, the month of its release.[46]

To date, the series has sold over six million units, including over three million for Saints Row 2.[47]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Lawrance, Alan (7 July 2006). Saints Row Developer Diary #2. GameSpy. Retrieved on 19 July 2009.
  2. Surette, Tim (21 August 2006). Saints Row demo sets record. GameSpot. Retrieved on 19 July 2009.
  3. Sources that discuss Saints Row's financial success include:
    i. Thorsen, Tom (13 September 2006). US console charts: September 5–11. GameSpot. Retrieved on 19 July 2009.;
    ii. Cocker, Guy (26 September 2006). UK game charts: September 17–23. GameSpot. Retrieved on 19 July 2009.;
    iii. Ramsay, Randolph (15 September 2006). Saints Row still tops in Oz. GameSpot. Retrieved on 19 July 2009.;
    iv. Graft, Kris (18 June 2008). THQ: Saints Row 2 "Very Different" from GTA IV. Retrieved on 19 July 2009.
  4. Onyett, Chales (9 September 2005). Saints Row Hands-On. IGN. Retrieved on 22 July 2010.
  5. Miller, Johnathan (9 May 2006). E3 2006: Saints Row Hands-On. IGN. Retrieved on 23 July 2010.
  6. Wilson, Mark (17 March 2008). Feeding your ID in Saints' Row 2. Kotaku. Retrieved on 17 March 2008.
  7. Graft, Kris (10 May 2007). Saints Row PS3 Canned, Sequel Confirmed. Next Generation Magazine. Retrieved on 6 July 2007.
  8. Robinson, Martin (31 July 2008). Saints Row 2 UK Hands-on. IGN. Retrieved on 31 July 2008.
  9. J "V-Singular" (1 July 2010). New Information on Saints Row 3DS. Saints Row Community. Retrieved on 23 July 2010.
  10. Brightman, james (June 29, 2010). Nintendo 'Really Wanted' Saints Row on 3DS, reveals THQ. Industry Gamers. Retrieved on June 30, 2010.
  11. Guttridge, Luke (25 September 2008). Dan Sutton on Saints Row 2. Retrieved on 25 July 2009.
  12. Robinson, Andy (16 June 2010). Saints Row 3 skips E3 to 'rebuild tech'. CVG. Retrieved on 17 June 2010.
  13. Support Ashley Ames. Indi Go Artist Co-Op. Retrieved on 3 August 2010.
  14. Ashcraft, Ben (3 August 2010). Bid For A Part In Saints Row 3 (For A Good Cause). Kotaku. Retrieved on 3 August 2010.
  15. Voice actor in Saints Row 3 - ASHLEYFEST. eBay. Retrieved on 7 August 2010.
  16. Perry, Douglas (20 May 2005). E3 2005: Saints Row First Look. IGN. Retrieved on 19 July 2009.
  17. Wilson, Mark (17 March 2008). Feeding your ID in Saints Row 2. Kotaku. Retrieved on 18 March 2008.
  18. Ahearn, Nate (23 March 2008). Saints Row 2 First Look. IGN. Retrieved on 23 March 2008.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Leyton, Chris (2 July 2006). Saint's Row Q&A Feature. TotalVideoGames. Retrieved on 27 July 2009.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Stockman, Christopher (27 June 2006). Saints Row Developer Diary #1. GameSpy. Retrieved on 27 July 2009.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Flegel, Matt (4 August 2006). Saints Row Developer Diary #5. GameSpy. Retrieved on 27 July 2009.
  22. Ahearn, Nate (28 March 2008). Saints Row 2 Details. IGN. Retrieved on 28 March 2008.
  23. Volition, Inc. Saints Row 2. (THQ). Xbox 360, (v1.30). Level/area: "Down Payment". (14 October 2008) "Johnny: Years ago, an earthquake dropped part of the city below sea level and rather than cleaning up the rubble, the city just built over it."
  24. Template:Citeweb
  25. IGN Xbox 360 (5 April 2008). Saints Row 2 Xbox 360 Interview. IGN. Retrieved on 16 August 2009.
  26. Garbutt, Russell (27 October 2008). Saints Row 2 Review. GameOver Online. Retrieved on 16 August 2009.
  27. Ahearn, Nate (30 July 2008). Saints Row 2 and Tera Patrick Preview. IGN. Retrieved on 30 July 2008.
  28. Helvig, Chris (9 September 2008). Developer Blog - "Creating Life in a Sandbox". Saints Row Community. Retrieved on 16 August 2009.
  29. Robinson, Martin (31 July 2008). Saints Row 2 UK Hands-on. IGN. Retrieved on 16 August 2009.
  30. Webb, Dan (18 December 2008). Top 5 Easter Eggs of 2008. Xbox360 Retrieved on 16 August 2009.
  31. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named gr_saints_row
  32. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named mc_saints_row
  33. Perry, Douglass (28 August 2006). Saints Row Review. IGN. Retrieved on 19 July 2009.
  34. Kasavin, Greg (30 August 2008). Saints Row Review for Xbox 360. GameSpot. Retrieved on 19 July 2009.
  35. "Vicious Sid" (28 August 2006). Saints Row Review. GamePro. Retrieved on 19 July 2009.
  36. Garbutt, Russell (16 November 2006). Game Over Online Magazine - Saints Row. Game Over Online. Retrieved on 19 July 2009.
  37. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named gr_360
  38. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named gr_ps3
  39. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named mc_360
  40. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named mc_ps3
  41. Nunez, Adam (11 October 2008). Saints Row 2 (360) Review. PGNx Media. Retrieved on 24 July 2009.
  42. Villoria, Gerald (14 October 2008). Saints Row 2 Review. GameSpy. Retrieved on 24 July 2009.
  43. Ahearn, Nate (9 October 2008). Saints Row 2 Review. IGN. Retrieved on 24 July 2009.
  44. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named pc_gr
  45. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named pc_mc
  46. Plunkett, Luke (November 5, 2008). Saints Row 2: Two Million Served (Well, Shipped). Kotaku. Retrieved on 2009-07-24.
  47. Thorsen, Tor (15 September 2010). Saints Row, Warhammer 40K series sales top 6 million. GameSpot. Retrieved on 16 September 2010.

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