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It’s been a while since we’ve had an entry in the Saints Row series, 7 years in fact! Volition has decided to reboot the series for both the previous and current-gen consoles with a slightly more grounded vibe. How does Saints Row stack up in 2022? Let’s find out.

Santo Ileso | TheEffect.Net

Saints Row was always a game that focuses on building your empire from the ground up and over the years, became zanier and zanier with guns we won’t write about here but, for better or for worse, Saints Row today is a much more grounded take.

Santo Ileso is the home for this entry, a southwestern sandbox with a mix of deserts, townlands and a metropolitan downtown area. As usual, you create your character with an impressively deep create-a-character function and then the game throws you right into it. 

Saints Row Create a Character | TheEffect.Net

This time around, you’re trying to build your empire fighting against three fronts:

  • The Idols – think RGB mobsters gone mad with spinning batons and fireworks
  • Panteros – more grounded thugs, some with wolverine style blades
  • Marshall’s – A private security company with high tech weaponry.

You, however, have your friends to support you in this fight, a cast of three other diverse leads each with their own skill sets (guns, cars etc) and some great writing to back them up. As you try to take over Santo Ileso, you’ll also be able to build your empire through adding additional criminal empires such as toxic waste delivery, insurance fraud scams and more. So far so good right? Well…

That’s where a lot of the positives about Saints Row ends. A decent story and voice acting can only go so far to mask some serious issues with the game. Gunplay? Poorly executed with no cover mechanism, making gunplay much more boring and nearly all weapons being hard to control. 

Idols Gunfight Saints Row | TheEffect.NetFighting? Repetitive with different skins and extended health bars being used to mask a lack of originality. Driving? Very hard to control. It does get worse – the game launches with bugs that won’t let you finish a mission that set me back an entire evening. Despite having numerous graphics modes which is commendable, none of them perform well with severe pop-in and ghosting even when bringing things back to 1080P. Even still, you’d be hard-pressed at these levels to tell this was running on PS5. Simple quality of life improvements would be welcome too, dying in a side mission transports you right back to your home base so you have to drive halfway across the city to restart it.

It’s really frustrating because there’s a great stab at an open-world game here and it could have been an open goal for the studio with no sign of GTA on the horizon. Even still, the game had enough content to keep me engaged to finish the story as it was so good and well told, probably some of the strongest we’ve seen in the series by a long shot. 

Co-Op Gameplay Saints Row | TheEffect.Net

Despite being a bit more grounded, Saints Row still has its standout moments – the LARPing side missions are amazing and don’t forget, the game supports online co-op too so you can drop in and explore the city and its missions together. 

Saints Row was reviewed on PS5 with a code provided to TheEffect.Net

REVIEW: Saints Row - A Missed Opportunity
  • Graphics
  • Gameplay
  • Story
  • Multiplayer


Ultimately, Saints Row feels like a solid idea that was rushed to get it out before a busy Q4 of games. With a couple more months to finesse the performance of the engine, refine its mechanics and polish the game – this could have been by far the best entry in the series and an instant recommendation to go by. Even with a couple of patches, a lot of the issues I spoke about earlier still remain so for now, I recommend, unless you’re a big fan of the series, to pass until the issues are fixed.

David McGinley

Irish Writer, Ad man and lover of tea, all things digital, gaming, coffee, photography, gadgets, writer @TheEffectDotNet. Views are my own.