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Early Reactions To Saints Row All Say The Same Thing

Beginning with the release of "Saints Row" in 2006, Volition's open-world action series has cultivated quite the loyal fanbase. Though its first title is largely considered one of the many "Grand Theft Auto" clones that emerged in the 2000s, the "Saints Row" series was eventualy able to forge its own identity, with each subsequent entry getting more outlandish and ridiculous than the previous one. The escalating ridiculousness also gradually alienated a lot of fans as time went by, however, culminating in the polarizing release of "Saints Row 4" in 2013. At that point, some fans felt the series' bonkers humor and excessive nature had run its course. Since then, the series has remained dormant, but following a near decade-long absence, a reboot with the fitting title of "Saints Row" has now been released.

Going by the promotional materials, the reboot of the "Saints Row" franchise seemed to be more or less in line with previous series offerings, boasting outlandish characters, whacky hijinks, and an implausible premise. The game also boasts a solid cast of voice actors bringing its characters to life. But is it a solid experience that honors past entries while breaking new ground for the series' future? Or does it fail to even reach the heights of its predecessors? The critics have reached a pretty clear consensus on the matter, and it's ... not looking great.

Saints Row is a buggy mess

No matter how well-written or engaging a game is, it is typically all for naught if it is riddled with technical issues. Unfortunately, "Saints Row" seems to suffer from a bad case of bugs based on early reviews. 

"Sadly, the sandy surrounds of Santo Ileso aren't the only rough edges to be found in the new 'Saints Row,'" Tristan Ogilvie wrote in his review for IGN. "There were regular bugs that I encountered in the PC version (and my IGN colleagues saw similar issues on consoles), whether it was taking damage every time I got out of a car, or accidentally smashing the window and firing my gun every time I got in." Writing for The A.V. Club, William Hughes also said the game suffers from a litany of glitches, even going as far as to compare it to the notoriously bad launch of "Cyberpunk 2077." And considering that game was so infamously unpolished that Sony and a few other companies decided to offer refunds for it, the comparison doesn't bode too well for the "Saints Row" reboot.

Jordan Middler of VGC scolded the technical shortcomings of "Saints Row" in a negative review of the game. "There are large sections of Saints Row that could be written off as generic, innofenssive open-world fluff, if not for the parade of bugs that greeted us throughout our time with the game," Middler wrote. "From the world not loading in correctly, leaving us dangling in the shadow realm, to characters T-posing, to the sniper rifle scope being permanently plastered to the screen, it's an incredibly unstable game." There are definitely some things about the game that appealed to critics — but are those elements enough to rescue the whole project?

The game is average at best

If you believe the critical consensus, "Saints Row" is a largely unstable and technologically flawed experience. But underneath the nagging glitches and bugs players will experience, is there a decent experience to be found? According to many reviews, not really. In fact, most critics felt this game didn't even approach the fun of the franchise's early entries.

Richard Wakeling of GameSpot gave "Saints Row" a mostly average review. "Combat is decent, and the story missions are enjoyable when at their most over-the-top, but there's too much bland filler in between," Wakeling wrote in summary. Middler's review for VGC was even more scathing, saying that the game is by and large sub-par.

Writing for Ars Technica, Sam Machkovech wasn't having any of it. "'Saints Row (2022)' is the rare open-world game that makes an average Ubisoft open-world game of the past five years seem refreshing by comparison," Machkovech wrote. "Describing this game as a regression to the Xbox 360 era would be an insult to the late 2000s' best open-world adventures." 

Even more positive reviews of "Saints Row" paints it out to be an average and forgettable experience. Tristan Ogilvie of IGN gave the game a 6 out of 10 score, with the overall impression being that it can provide some fun but nothing spectacular in comparison to similar titles. "Saints Row" scored a similar 60 score from PC Gamer's Jody Macgregor, who liked the overall experience, but felt it was too restrained when compared to past franchise offerings.