It’s true, Saints Row was once seen as the copycat version of Rockstar’s better-known Grand Theft Auto series. That is, until Volition decided to swap realistic weapons out for dubstep guns and superpowers. The thug life spiraled into presidency, and so followed an entire nexus of humorous shenanigans. That, to many, is when Saints Row finally managed to find its feet.
With the new reboot lingering on the horizon, it means we have an excuse to step back and explore all the entries in the Saints Row franchise to date. From The Boss’s origin story as a 3rd Street Saints recruit to the distant future where powers and propaganda went hand in hand in the presidential campaign, let’s take the opportunity to explore all the kinks in-between. Here are, in our opinion, the five best Saints Row games of all time, ranked.
5. Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell
Admittedly, we loomed over the hopes of filling Gat’s weighty shoes ever since he became a fan favourite after the Saints Row debut. Fans asked, and Volition listened. Come 2015, the spin-off chapter rolled out, putting Gat at the centre of a short but sweet journey through bullets and hellfire in the Devil’s playground.
As much fun as it was to sink into Gat’s world as he searched for The Boss in the fiery depths of Hell, the gameplay was really just a combination of simple activities and mopping up side quests. After two to three hours of doing the same things, the story rolled out to a close. The best part, of course, was being able to confront Satan and shoot him in the face. But apart from that, Gat Out of Hell was just an excuse for Volition to cash-in on the novelty of playing the notorious gang lord.
4. Saints Row IV
Now, I think we can all agree that Saints Row has gone through quite an unusual series of transitions over the years. Prior to the proposed reboot, the franchise went from being a relatively serious gang-themed story, to an outlandish bullet-riddled free-for-all. Come 2013, and Volition basically settled on axing all future possibilities of the series ever returning to a normal state.
Saints Row IV swapped the usual modes of transportation out for flying, and the weapons out for superpowers. You were no longer a hungry gang boss — but the President of the United States. And as much fun as that all was to experience, its superpowers and alternate dimension just sort of felt, I don’t know — wrong. It was entertaining for a while, sure, but the novelty quickly wore off, and before long it was just another run-of-the-mill Sci-Fi spin-off clustered with a Mass Effect parody. Saints Row vibes, check. A well-deserved sequel to Saints Row The Third? Meh.
3. Saints Row
Rounding back to what I said about Saints Row being a direct rip-off of Grand Theft Auto — it is sort of hard to shake those words. The open-world environment and gang-themed story sparked one too many references, and it was effectively what gave the ambitious game the temporary title of copycat.
Having said that, Saints Row was still a fantastic game overall. Its world was vibrant and dynamic, its customization was plentiful, and the overall structure was well built and bursting with potential. Sure, the missions became a little repetitive, but it didn’t stop us from wanting to truck on as the silent protagonist to help mop up the monopoly of rival gang activities. Ten or more hours into it, and we found ourselves itching for another round of mindless mayhem with Julius and the Saints. Hello, sequel.
2. Saints Row 2
Back by popular demand, Saints Row stormed the stage with a well-deserved sequel, giving players another reason to slip back into Stillwater for another slice of absolute carnage. However, rather than rehashing the same material from the first game, Saints Row 2 instead built on it, delivering better side quests and a much deeper plotline.
Stillwater was as jam-packed as ever, still bringing the same level of humor as the last game, only with a lot more material to chew through. Characters developed into genuine companions, relationships blossomed, and the overall world surrounding the Saints felt a lot more like home. But was it as good as its successor? Well, that’s debatable.
1. Saints Row The Third
It was at this point in the timeline that Volition threw caution to the wind and took all the necessary risks to sever the bond with its Grand Theft Auto counterpart. Street gangs were out, high profile criminal organisations were in. Back alleys brawls were canned, and penthouse shootouts soon followed up. You get the picture. By 2011, Saints Row had found its place in the world, and it was only onwards and upwards for Volition moving forward.
Bringing a whole new city to the stage, as well as an entire ocean of customizable characters, gangs and vehicles, Saints Row The Third absolutely dominated the open-world market during 2011. The humor was on point, the characters were stupidly over the top, the weapons were out of this world, and everything laced between just screamed originality. And honestly, if the upcoming reboot is in need of any inspiration, then they needn’t look any further. Saints Row The Third is, and always will be, the greatest chapter Volition has conjured to date.
So, what’s your take? Do you agree with our list? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.