Saints of Rage

*WARNING* This article contains spoilers for Saints Row IV at about the 75-80% completion mark. Kinda minorish spoilers that most people interested in SRIV probably know already, but spoilers nonetheless.

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After that somber moment of realizing the Saints are putting everyone in danger by going to save Johnny Gat, we’re greeted by… a pixelated “Winners Don’t Use Drugs” screen? What?

Saints of Rage is by far the coolest thing I’ve encountered so far in SRIV. And not just because it’s a blast of nostalgia. There have already been plenty of awesome references to 80s/ 90s movies and games in the last two Saints games, but this one takes the proverbial cake.

Saints of Rage is based off Streets of Rage, an old Sega beat ’em up from the early 90s. I’ve never played it, but I know 16-bit sidescroller beat ’em ups, and Saints of Rage pulls off the look, sound, and feel perfectly. Everything from the pixel art backgrounds to the animations and screen effects/ transitions are spot-on. It’s the Wreck-It Ralph of video games.


Source: Saints Row Wiki

When it first loaded up, along with the giddy feeling from the rush of nostalgia I was getting seeing the title screen and hearing the music and distorted voices, I was surprised to see MY Boss pop up on screen as a 2D sprite! I had to pause the game a moment. My analytic brain was racing, wondering how on earth they had created a 2D sprite of my custom character. It didn’t take me long to realize Volition’s genius. They’re not sprites, but rather super low poly 3D models, shrunk down with a jaggy filter thrown over them. Part of what gives it away is if the Boss is wearing a trench coat or cape of some kind. It will flap around normally, as it’s controlled by a dynamic system and can’t really be hand-animated. Still, you have to hand it to Volition for their attention to detail and coming up with a way to accurately create the effect of a simple 2D sprite using a 3D engine. The animations unique to Saints of Rage are also expertly done, and truly what misleads you at first to believe the characters are sprites. The rapid, jerky motions make you feel like you’re really playing a 16-bit game from the early 90s. I refer to Wreck-It Ralph again, for the animations of the Nicelanders. That jerky style of animation is almost a new style of animation on its own, with the purpose of hearkening back to an era where smoother animations were not possible. It was a nice touch in Ralph, and it’s a nice touch in SRIV.

Saints of Rage is the coolest thing in SRIV, but pulling a close second has to be Asha’s rescue mission. All of the stealth game references. ALL of them. And brilliantly executed. I have to say, as silly as Saints Row IV’s plot and concept is, it really has some damn good writing. The loyalty missions were especially well-written, and I wish there had been more missions like that in the game where the characters spent time together and bonded.

*ENDGAME SPOILERS AHEAD*

I just beat the game a few days ago. With that ending, I’m not sure how they’re going to do a Saints V! How can you top becoming the leader of an alien race and having time travel? The only thing I can think of is that an army of machines rise up in V so they can do Terminator references. Having the aliens on your side, along with Jane Austen(!) and God knows who else they decide to pull through the time machine… THAT could top the great, stupid-fun absurdity of Saints Row IV.

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~ by The Retro Gamer on September 10, 2013.

2 Responses to “Saints of Rage”

  1. you actuly just get to punch satan in saints row 5

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