Avec « Saints Row », le retour du clone fantasque et déjanté de « GTA »

Avec « Saints Row », le retour du clone fantasque et déjanté de « GTA »

At the creation screen, your character takes shape. It took him several minutes to choose from dozens of haircuts, skin textures, and templates, which he then reworked. You polished the bridge of the nose, raised the angle of the eyebrows, determined the diameter of the nipples and the thickness of the crotch. Then you spent another twenty minutes dressing her. This manic modeling session, between plastic surgery and Tuning automotive, is your gateway to row of saints. In this customization paradise, your undeniably unique avatar emerges. It’s called “the Boss” and there’s only one: it’s you.

Play with dolls by molding your character's clothes or altering their underwear.

A few minutes later, we find the Chief at the controls of a convertible, accompanied by three acolytes, with their hair blowing in the wind. Along the highway lanes of Santo Ileso, the car radio spits out the mantra of a personal development coach: “Become your own boss, stay in charge!” » This is precisely the life chosen by the Boss after launching his gang as one who launches a business. He takes the city to turn it into the empire of the gang of Saints: here is the project.

The uninhibited double of “GTA”

Since its debut in 2006, the irreverent series row of saints evolved in the shadow of Grand Theft Auto (GTA), moving from the rank of outsider to that of a little crazy cousin. Appreciated by a sizable swath of gamers, especially in the United States, row of saints However, it has much more limited clout than the behemoth Rockstar Games and its 375 million sales (all episodes combined).

Cleverly, the Volition series pursues less the meticulous simulation of its model than its cathartic sandbox pleasures. Less talkative and hysterical than GTALess tempted by political discourse that often stumbles into a form of cynical ambiguity, the American satire of row of saints harnesses an uninhibited vulgarity, combined with the lightness of a cartoonish and explosive humor. when a car is stolen GTA, we force the door. Within row of saintsWe walked through the windshield, feet first.

If it has always starred various gangs fighting to gain control of the main American cities, the series has been allowed to slide down an increasingly delusional slope. In 2011 it was reinvented with Saints Row: The Third, a cocktail of alleged cretinism where the gang of Saints is now making a fortune from merchandising and hitting their enemies with dildos. As video games reach the age of reason, Volition wallows in the guilty pleasures that have long earned it its reputation as an unpopular subculture.

Read our review of the time: Saints Row: the third, worthy heir to GTA

In the fall of 2013, as if to answer GTA V who prides himself on his flowing script, Volition draws saints row iv, where the Saints find themselves trapped in a virtual alien simulation after the Boss is elected President of the United States. In the opinion of even the developers of Volition, it was time to return to earth.

Therefore, it has the form of a restart what comes back to us today row of saints. This time, Volition retraces the purple gang’s origins in a more subdued version than usual. The game focuses on a group of friends with humanized profiles but atypical enough to embark on a great picaresque adventure, with flights in wingsuits against a background of explosions, middle fingers and gratuitous deaths by the hundreds.

Less crazy than in the previous parts, Santos' gang presents characters in keeping with the times but not very endearing.

Wild West on cardboard

Neither really silly nor serious for all that, the new row of saints not always convincing. From the sandbox, the game retains its essentials as it asks us to loot a construction site or drag an enemy into chemical toilets for miles. However, it seems to obscure that we’ve done this before, or even that every open world game has done it before. Following a disjointed progression, the player goes from chasing to shooting, plagued by the unpleasant impression that the genre does not know how to free itself from endless missions consisting of joylessly shooting waves of enemies.

After a laborious start, and never sacrificing anything for a somewhat reassuring mechanic, row of saints it ends up deploying on what it has best to offer anyway. The game benefits from the cache of Santo Ileso, a fictional city in the southwestern United States whose arid environment captures the artificiality of cities like Las Vegas in a remarkable way. Here, the industrial suburbs gradually transform into commercial areas that gravitate around a city center whose towers accentuate the emptiness of the desert. It is no coincidence that the first mission of the game takes place in a cardboard setting of the Far West: the prosperous city of Santo Ileso is just the modern evolution of the cities of the west, of those in which the best sequences of row of saints (a prison break, a train attack…) they borrow so many clichés.

In Santo Ileso, three rival gangs face each other: the mechanics of Los Panteros, the anti-capitalist clubbers of Los Ídolos, and the Marshall paramilitary company.

Furthermore, by reproducing the founding myth of the United States, the open world of row of saints let us not forget that this was above all a struggle for hegemony. This justifies the game’s obsession with making everything customizable: Boss avatar, weapons, vehicles, monuments… “It’s all yours, put your stamp on it”this game shouts at us where the egocentric protagonists exalt participatory production and the myth of self made entrepreneur. In this post-Uber dystopia, the four friends embark on a massive re-appropriation of neighborhoods, setting up their shady businesses there (with so many variable interest mini-games) and painting the city purple. Indeed, the Saints have become their own bosses, but if they have freed themselves it is to better enclose us in their own frankness.

read also “GTA III”, the bad boy of the video game, turns 20

Pixels opinion in brief

We liked it:

  • the city of Santo Ileso, a superb exploration site;
  • the character of the Boss, with his panache and his impeccable sense of reply;
  • Some original and fun sequences that stand out.

We did not like it:

  • a slightly too wise reworking of row of saints that never seeks to renew the archaisms of the game in the open world;
  • shootings and more shootings…;
  • some crash bugs in certain missions or phases of the game.

It’s more for you if:

  • you desperately wait GTA 6 and if you need a snack;
  • you’re crazy about customization, you put your touch everywhere: on walls, sidewalks, cars, and passers-by (bonus if purple is your favorite color);
  • you spend your weekends on the side of the freeway jumping under cars to collect millions in insurance (or you always dreamed of doing it in a video game).

Not for you if:

  • the open world format in missions and submissions adorned with mountains of rather unpleasant side activities seems outdated to you;
  • you can’t stand gratuitous immorality, violence and rudeness.

pixel note:

3 rings of 5

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