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5 Crucial Things Saints Row IV Did Better Than GTA V

So 2013 saw the release of Grand Theft Auto V, which must have been the most hyped game of last generation (yes the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 are officially last gen).

With so much excitement building up to the release of the game, getting perfect 10/10 scores and GameSpot employees receiving death threats for daring to give it less than a perfect rating, GTA V was essentially promised to be the greatest game ever made.

It was to my surprise then that when I actually played the game, I thought it was dull and repetitive, populated by characters I despised, and wound up feeling like a massive chore to play through.

By no means is it terrible or lacking in some rather fun moments, but I would personally have given the game a 7 or 8 out 10. Meanwhile, Saints Row IV (and its predecessor Saints Row the Third) were doing almost everything better than GTA V, but being ignored by the mainstream.

Read on as I explain why Saints Row 3 and 4 are just plain better than GTA V, despite lacking some polish.

Saints Row IV Golden Desperado
A tribute to Desperado? SOLD!

5. GTA V Has Memorable Characters (that I hate with a passion)

This might be a petty gripe for some, but for me it was a major sticking point. Grand Theft Auto V lacked almost any character I liked playing as or interacting with.

Just about everyone who gives you a job is a complete a-hole, whether it’s one of Michael’s horrible family members or some corrupted government official. They act spoiled or smarter than your crime committing trio, even while you do their petty jobs.

There is the defence that the characters are caricatures, parodies or hyperbolic representations of real life personalities (spoiled 20-something gamer, nagging rich wife, racist border patroller, etc).

I completely understand the intention of creating characters like that to mock our society, but just because a character is intentionally designed to be a horrible pain in the ass, it doesn’t stop me wanting to ram a god damned jet into the person in question.

gta v Jimmy
Anyone who doesn’t want to kill Jimmy is a failed human

Before anyone murders me though, I will admit that Trevor is a great character, even though he is an evil murderous psychopath. He is also the only person in the game to suggest killing everyone who mistreats the player, so he also earns some respect right there.

How Saints Row Did It Better

But all the members of the Saints in Saints Row are lovable rogues, despite being horrible people. Some of the characters whine, some of them nag you a lot, others pretty much spend the entire time calling you stupid (which you are at times). But they were written in such a way I couldn’t hate them at all. Even the villains are so cartoonishly over the top, they are enjoyable to watch even as you destroy their criminal/alien empires.

Saints Row IV Keith David
Also Keith David is playing himself as Vice President. Buy this game

4. GTA V Has New Gameplay Elements (that are barely used)

The big new thing Grand Theft Auto V introduced to the series were the heists. They were promoted as being integral to the game with players planning the heist, doing set up missions and choosing a crew of support characters who would level up the more you used them. For me, this is easily the most fun thing about GTA V and I looked forward to every single one of them.

Unfortunately the heists were too few and far between for my liking and constantly limited your planning options.

You get to unlock heist members but it hardly feels rewarding to get a new driver or gunner after you’ve already done two of three heists you can actually use them in. And the levelling up thing is pointless since you might only ever use a hacker or driver twice.

By the end of the game, there are only three real heists (where you plan everything and actually get a reward) and the rest is cover based shooting and talking to annoying people.

gta v Selfie
Seriously… Everyone wants to kill Jimmy. Yes this image is unrelated to the above text

How Saints Row Did It Better

In Saints Row IV’s case, super powers were introduced. A whole Justice Leagues worth of powers are included in the package with my favourites being super speed, kinetic blasts and a gliding ability. I literally spent the first hour or two of the game gliding around the city and saying “WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” And no I do not mean figuratively, I mean literally.

All of the super powers are front and centre, with optional upgrades and alterations available to enhance your already sizeable penchant for destruction. They even include side missions where you can ONLY use certain powers so it even encourages the player to experiment with the new mechanics.

Admittedly, Saints Row does become a little too easy but it is undeniably fun to run around a sandbox with super powers.

Saints Row IV
Notice all the cars getting flipped? That’s the best…

On the topic of sandbox worlds…

3. GTA V Has A Giant Open World (devoid of anything in it)

Another big claim about Grand Theft Auto V included the rumour this would be the biggest map in all of Rockstar history. Sure enough, getting my hands on the game revealed a massive continent to explore with varying landscapes. From city to mountains to beaches to deserts, there was a lot of variety in what you could run, jump and climb around. But Rockstar seems to have forgotten to put anything into the map to actually make it worth exploring.

Gta V Quad Bike
Besides awesome views I mean

I played the game for twenty hours of gameplay interspersed with exploration of the landscape, I can still count the thing I found on one hand. A piece of a suicide note, an alien ship fragment and a baseball bat are all I stumbled upon during my campaign. Load up GTA III for comparison some time and you will be tripping over health packs, body armour, random weapons and hidden packages.

While it might not seem important since you can have fun dicking around the map, killing innocent people and blowing helicopters out of the sky, none of that actually requires a giant map to do. If the player isn’t rewarded for exploring the sandbox in any way, why should I bother doing anything more than story missions?

How Saints Row Did It Better

Saints Row 3 and 4 on the other hand don’t waste an inch of their comparatively smaller maps. The game may lack in variety since it’s all just a city in the style of New York but it more than makes up for it with all the secrets to be found. Hidden vehicles, shortcuts to unlock, hidden power ups, autograph opportunities and other collectibles make it rewarding to drive around back alleys and scale buildings. That’s without taking into account all the missions and side quests to be done.

gta v and Saints Row IV
Side missions that unlock the Dubstep Gun. BUY THIS GAME

Speaking of…

2. GTA V Has Lots of Activities (that are pretty boring)

Grand Theft Auto V, being a sandbox after all, has a large variety of activities for you to pursue. Sadly Rockstar let me down here. Most of the activities are tedious and/or annoying. Such riveting pass times include triathlons, parachuting, tennis, stock markets… And they are all about as exciting as they sound.

The lowest of low points though has to be yoga, a stupid, boring, drawn out game of ‘hold 4 buttons and two sticks at once,’ that the story actually forces you to take part in.

Pictured: A 10/10 game

Again, there are a few exciting things to do like street and sea races or the occasional rampage, but nowhere near as many entertaining activities as there were in past Rockstar games.

How Saints Row Did It Better

Volition understands that when someone is playing in a sandbox, they want to blow things up en masse rather than take their miserable wife out for tennis. Saints Row provides a huge assortment of destructive side missions that are genuinely fun.

A small sample of the insanity includes weapon and vehicle rampages, super power rampages, Japanese murder game shows, streaking, car surfing and escorting a ferocious tiger around the city in a convertible (which is as bizarre a sight as it sounds).

This is from Saints Row the Third though… which you should also buy

These are all the kinds of things a player wants to do as well as driving on a side-walk and they are not only are they available, players are rewarded for seeking out these distractions. Which brings us to the most important point of all…

1. Rewards for playing (or lack thereof)

The biggest frustration I had playing Grand Theft Auto 5 (which I may have alluded to already) is a complete lack of any reward for playing the game. While it’s true I should be able to play for the fun of playing, Rockstar seemed to go out of its way to give me nothing back.

It’s no exaggeration to say that more than half the story and stranger missions yield no reward of any kind. And for a game that features property you can buy scattered all over the map or airplanes you can order over the internet, it seems strange that they give the player so little money to work with.

It’s made even worse by the fact that property is about the only thing you can spend money on since clothing options are freakishly limited, car upgrades are pointless when they tend to explode, and you get almost all the guns through the story anyway.

To top it all off, the boring activities mentioned above either give small amounts of money, or no money at all.


How Saints Row Did It Better

Once more, Saints Row outstrips GTA V by rewarding absolutely everything the player does with money and/or experience. Even seemingly pointless acts of destruction like jumping out of a moving car and watching it crush 5 pedestrians to death will be scored and gain you experience.

Since experience unlocks more abilities you’ll do everything you can to gain XP. And to buy those abilities and all weapon and vehicle upgrades, players will earn as much as possible since they’re so expensive.

Gameplay wise, it’s great since you’ll actually go out of your way to do the crazy things on offer (like streaking) since they are not only fun, but help enhance your gameplay experience and help you progress through the insane story modes more easily.

More games should allow us to fly naked through the sky

GTA V and Saints Row Are Both Good Games

Overall though, the same word always comes to the forefront of my mind when I play Saints Row 3 and 4. “FUN.” It is one of the only series that leaves me with a smile on my face no matter what.

Again, Grand Theft Auto V is NOT an awful game and if you enjoy it, more power to you. I just want more people to give Saints Row a chance.

Saints Row 4 is also a fair bit cheaper than GTA V at the moment.

Do you agree with KRS? If you’ve played these games and have an opinion, let us know in the comments below.

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  1. Worst thing I’ve ever read. Saints row is for children. Adults play gta 5 for the realistic value. Gta 5 is the best game ever made. Gta 5 will continue to be the best game until gta 6 is released in 2017. It looks better plays better and has a better story. This is a pile of turd article.

    • You totally didn’t read it, right?
      “Looks better”, sure.
      “Plays better”, what? The article states why this isn’t true.
      “Better story”, maybe, but no memorable characters.

      The Saint’s Row series > GTA series. It’s funnier, has got better characters, and it’s got a better gameplay overall.

    • “Saints row is for children. Adults play gta 5 for the realistic value.”

      I think you’ve got this exactly backwards:

      – Adults, unlike children, already know how to drive, and don’t need to spend hours and hours in game getting to various mission objectives in a car. Spending time in a virtual traffic jam isn’t our idea of fun.

      – Adults, unlike children, spend enough time in a “realistic” adult world, and enjoy playing games partly to escape that “realism” for a few hours.

      – Adults, unlike children, do not begin a serious argument with an obviously overwrought expression like “Worst thing I’ve ever read” and end it with “This is a pile of turd article.”

      Or to put it in a way you might understand:


      • XD good 1 Timbo it’s true I’ve played GTA online over 30 days playtime rank 146 and over half the time I’ve wasted my life playing repetitive boring missions just to buy ammo for my guns and upgrading my cars when all i really wanna do is run around and raise hell with friends infinite ammo any car I want but still 700+ hours in I cant even do that and I spend practically all my time in the city cause everyone else does and because anywhere else simply isn’t worth exploring alone

  2. nooooooo way saints row has wierd superpowers gta 5 is realistic with a bigger map and three dudes so saints row iv is NOT better!

    • Nooooooo way saints row has things that make it unique gta 5 gives me an excuse to never step outside and when i’m told i should get a life i can say i have three not one so saints row iv is NOT better because it does something different from reality!

  3. I agree with this article. I have played 3 “Saints Row” games and 3 GTA games…

    …and “Saints Row” is by far the more enjoyable franchise.

    As you concluded, it’s just plain more FUN to play.

  4. No offence but gta v is better than Sr 3,4,& gat out of cell after all saints row came from rockstars previous games gta was ALWAYS BETTER, Volition failed after saints row 2 even if rockstar failed it’ll be the first time v.s. volition failing three times

  5. Silly man. Don’t you know most people enjoy playing mundane overrated garbage that’s dished out year after year. Saints Row will never be as “good” as Grand Theft Auto for the simple fact that it’s too different from what they’re used to.

  6. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks this.

    I bought GTA V the day it came out, and played it for countless hours. A great looking game, no doubt. I played through Saint’s Row 1-3 and loved them all. I didn’t get SR4 at the time, thinking Volition finally jumped the shark with the aliens/superpowers thing. I thought they ruined the franchise, and I never bothered playing it.

    Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. I picked up SR4 and Gat out of Hell for XBox One, just looking for something else to play. I haven’t even put on Gat out of Hell yet. Saints Row 4 is so extremely ridiculously over the top, yet probably the most fun that I’ve ever had playing a game. Every single part of the game is legitimately fun to play. There are a lot of missions in GTA V that feel like a chore. You just want to get them over with. It can get boring, and sometimes frustrating. In Saints Row, everything from the main story missions, to the side missions, to exploring the simulation and your Mass Effect style spaceship, is just fun. I can’t think of a single mission that I didn’t get any entertainment out of.

    I guess it really is a matter of what you want out of your game. GTA V is a gorgeous game. But it feels like Rockstar tried to make it TOO realistic, to the point that a lot of it feels like you’re doing real life chores. The heists are fun, and it’s cool to explore around the world, but I feel like I would constantly need a break from the game.

    With SR, I can never put the controller down. It’s so ridiculously fun that I never get tired of it. It’s what a game should be.

    It’s crazy that most people think that it’s absolute blasphemy to even put Saints Row even in the same category as GTA, nevermind say it’s better. When the original SR came out, everyone (myself included) couldn’t help but to look at it as a GTA rip off. But it’s evolved into it’s own identity. I bet you 95% of the people who act insulted that you would put Saints Row 4 over GTA V never actually played the game.

  7. XD good 1 Timbo it’s true I’ve played GTA online over 30 days playtime rank 146 and over half the time I’ve wasted my life playing repetitive boring missions just to buy ammo for my guns and upgrading my cars when all i really wanna do is run around and raise hell with friends infinite ammo any car I want but still 700+ hours in I cant even do that and I spend practically all my time in the city cause everyone else does and because anywhere else simply isn’t worth exploring alone

  8. All I know is a little bit into Saints row 4 I was president of the United States, the White House explodes and I am using a giant futuristic laser thing to blow up swooping alien spaceships! A little bit into GTA 5 and I figure out how to tow a car to an impound lot, that is the best thing that has happened and it is not even obvious to me that I get rewarded for towing other cars to the lot.

    • I get what you’re saying, but technically the very first level of GTA is a BANK ROBBERY, and the next one is a joyride through Los Santos with some “repo” cars. I definitely agree with you that GTA has some very boring moments but to give the game credit where due, the tow truck doesn’t come till later and I’m pretty sure its one of those optional “Strangers and Freaks” missions.

  9. Exactly—-GTA was and will be fun but Saints row is just crazily fun


    No one actually wants too much “reality” so Gta should introduce some new gameplay rather than driving and shooting

  10. Saints Row a great game and a good alternative to GTA games but very different at the same time.

    The best gta was San Andreas and at this point was very fun and had a lot of missions, big cities and cool moments with the gang wars. I think gta lost so much fun now, its more realistic yes but more bored too. Saints row its ridiculous but really fun.

  11. Eh, True Crime, , Just Cause, Merc’d in Flame, Mafia and Watch_Dogs are more fun to play and portray a true open word; GTA and Saint’s Row are mediocre at best lol.

  12. Almost agree with the full post, GTA V would have been a A+ game only if they centered on just “one” character with no family charge, just a random “crooked thug” (male/female) wanting to resolve his problems “Niko’s way” (Niko Bellic) To live the “american dream” in a superficial land as “Vinewood”
    Saints row is such a different game, that through the years, has got my respect, SR The Third and 4 were so fun despite the lack of envoirment and immersive elements that any other sandbox can have (as GTA San Andreas, The Witcher 3, Skyrim or Red Dead Redemption)
    Sometimes people just forget why the games are made for, it’s all about FUN and Replayability, and Saints Row, is the best example to describe it.

  13. Some people here gotta be party crashers and some Gta fanboys. They never really played the games but they gotta complain because they want Gta of which every kid knows about (saints row aint a kids game, unlike Gta which you really cant find a kid that doesnt know about it). Why tf would you wanna do life chores and repetitive crap like stealing banks. Grow up and try the game. Saints row may be not better with graphics or the map, thats probably because of their short crew and company, but their storyline is still awesome. Now destroying earth wasnt the best idea, but that didnt kill the fun. Best one was undeniably saints row 2 ( but it was also kind of the hardest games between them).

  14. I don’t think this Comparisons is truly being honest about how bad GTA5 & SR4 is.

    Where GTA5 Wins
    – Larger & Diverse Map (If it wasn’t people wouldn’t be asking for a SR2 Remake)
    – New Elements & Assets added (SR4 reused its MiniGames, Clothing, Peds, Vehicles and SR3 Map…making SR4 a SR3.5)
    – Gun Modular Add-on System (SR4 may have it better than SR3’s Upgrade System, but Modular Add-ons have its own Pros)
    – Clothing Variety in MP (Yeah though SR4 always players to play as 2 genders & you can change the Color, the Clothing doesn’t seem as much compared to GTA’s MP Clothing)
    – Weapon Wheel (You can carry multi-profiles of the same Type of Weapon instead of having to switch back and forth between them)
    – Other Things: First Person View, GTAOnline

    Where SR4 Wins
    – Diversty. Story. Period. (We know its a Enter the Matrix Parody of Neo’s Power in full use, but it has so much to its missions and gameplay without the DLC compared to GTA5’s Story that will never get a DLC)
    – Powers (For those who wanted Prototype, Infamous or a Good Marvel/DC Superhero Game this is it)
    – Gun Costumes/Styles (This actually made sense as some weapons would be too similar to it was so nice that devs allow Players to choose there own look from the Stats)
    – MiniGames (To some degree they made them easier cause now there on the map, and they are like the Last Game’s MiniGames, which can be a good & bad thing, but the Unlocking Stores via Puzzle is really nice)
    – THEY KEPT SOME OF THERE OLD ELEMENTS FROM SR3 (Can be a good & bad cause unlike GTA5 & GTA 4 where Dual Wielding is gone, we still have customizable Character of Both Genders)
    – We get a Mech
    – ON FOOT RADIO. Period.

    Where GTA5 & SR4 Tie
    – Rooftops…yeah Why is this a big deal…in GTA4 & SR3 most of your experience was on the Ground an accessed through Pre-rendered stairs or Plane so they both improved by Making a more Ladders/Stairs
    – GTA5’s Graphics are better than SR4 for 2 reasons Its Better & Different than its Predecessor and isn’t Reused…SR4 has better lighting & detail than SR3

    Where Both SR4 & GTA5 Lose
    – Vehicle Customization (Both didn’t expand much on it)
    – SR4 can’t Toggle its Upgrades
    – GTA5 took away the ability to Grab Ledges
    – Even though GTA5 has less Interiors than GTA4 (Restaurants, Hospital), SR4 never seems have any compare to even GTA:VC

    • I feel GTA understands what it is now A Retired/Prematurely Retired Person/Criminal w/American Dream Story coming from A Criminal (GTA:1/2) > Avenger (GTA3) > Mobster (GTA:VC) > Gangster (GTA:SA) > Hitman (GTA4) > Now (GTA:VCS, GTA:LCS, GTA5)…your character was meant to be a Criminal in Organized Crime

      While SR forget its meant to be a Anti-Hero Gangster (I noticed it too your not meant to be a Bad/Crooked/Evil/Wicked Gangster/Drug lord/Cartel), but kept its History. As one reviewer said They should have went from Mayor to Governor then President and continue to > Ruler of the World > Ruler of the Galaxy > Ruler of Time & End it

  15. Rockstar hasn’t bothered to include ‘fun’ in GTA since San Andreas.

    Saints Row is over the top fun that’s self-aware and in on its own joke.


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