When we started with Saints Row a month or two ago, we concluded we had a great time introducing our four-hours to these new Saints. Shortly before the start of gamescom, this reboot of the franchise came out, which put the game on our queue for a while, but now we’ve been able to explore Santo Ileso extensively and make our version of The Saints one of the most powerful gangs in town. The road there was as you’d expect from Saints Row: action-packed, colorful and amazing, but sadly also ugly.
We ran the preview on a PC and ran the review on Xbox Series X. Perhaps that’s part of the explanation for why a couple of months ago we didn’t notice that Saints Row graphically looked like a game from another era. It’s a sore point we had recently at Gamescom when we saw Ubisoft’s Skull & Bones. With some games already taking advantage of the capabilities of the latest generation of consoles and video cards, games that don’t actually stand out in a negative way. Saints Row is one such game. It’s not that the game is no longer fun or good, but it’s one of the first things you notice when you play.
However, Saints Row is technically doing some nice things. For example, it gives players using the Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5 a choice of five graphics modes, two of which also have a choice of Occlusion perimeter ray tracing his job. This makes seven ways you can set up the game graphically. Options range from 1080p gaming with a full focus on frame rate to 4k gaming, where the frame rate isn’t locked to 30fps, but practically doesn’t go much above it either. For 1080p and 1440p HD settings, you can turn on ray tracing as an option. The other way to simulate light and shadow pays off: shadows certainly come up much better with this feature, although we didn’t think the difference was so great that you can’t play Saints Row without ray tracing.
Light effects look good with ray tracing, but also without it. The game makers have also well filled the game world with atmospheric light sources. Especially in the story missions, you will encounter many strikingly lit environments and this gives the game a great look. Saints Row is a game that differentiates itself by offering a lot of action, which comes with a lot of chaos. You can break a lot, blow up and so on. It can be said that the game can handle all that chaos effortlessly. Sure, the frame rate drops a bit in the desert environment every now and then, but even playing in 4K mode always remains playable.
The reason for this may be related to our starting pain point: the rest of the game looks outdated. Then we mean how detailed the textures and characters are, how those characters move and how far forward you can look and how new textures and shadow effects are loaded. Shadows from trees or other elements sometimes only appear when driving a few meters away. Driving in a car and definitely flying in a helicopter, you see continuous pop-up effects. If you fly over Santo Eliso, parts of the far city are sometimes not visible at all until you get close. These are things we should not see in this generation of consoles.
It instantly gives Saints Row an Achilles heel, because while there are good things there too, not all look modern. In addition, Saints Row suffers from quite a few bugs and other rare types. You see characters in the game world regularly doing weird things and we’ve seen at least twice as many as we had to restart the game because our character stopped responding to all inputs, making the game unplayable. Then the active mission had to be restarted from the beginning and that’s disastrous for your gameplay. Saints Row doesn’t make a good technical impression and that’s a shame.
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