September 7, 2006

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Saintís Row (360)
Volition, 2006

IThug life finds its way to home consoles in the completely original pimp/gangsta simulator Saintís Row which is in no way at all AN UNABASHED CLONE OF GRAND THEFT AUTO.

When Mel Gibson retold Braveheart as a biblical epic in The Passion of the Christ I bought it, even though the bible version had far more claymore duels. When Gus Van Sant remade Psycho shot for shot I let it slide. But this? This has neither Van Santís ballsy insistence that he is as talented as Hitchcock nor the screamingly freakish anti-semitism that made Passion a cult success a la Triumph of Will. Everything, minus the stellar voice acting, from the GTA series finds a new, shinier home on the 360 with only minimal additions. Yo? Criminal themes? Check. True dat. Free-roaming urban chaos? Check it biatch. Gang on gang violence? Yo G, check yo. Wait yo, even hilariously named fast food joints and radio stations yo? That check is in the muthaf****ní mail, yo.

Seriously, frat bros and latchkey kids. Riding hard in your digital lowrider clocking bitches and slappin hoes wonít get you laid. Stop already. Turn Emo or some subset of dumb that is marginally harder to wish out of the gene pool.

What does Saintís Row have to offer besides new shiny? Not much; you get an expanded clothing and appearance customization palatte (ícause apparently GTA wasnít Barbie Dress-up enough for the middle class suburban gang bangers). There is also a nice XBOX Live component that contains a handful of co-op missions and a healthy selection of vs. modes. Most disappointing of these is the Blinged Out Rides in which players kill each other for money with which they trick out their rides until they have been blung to the max. Unfortunately the way that it plays out has little to do with rolling on spinaz or hooking up some fresh ground effects and is simply another run-and-gun affair.

Of course the ace that Saintís Row has over GTA is that Saintís Row players get to yell at you through your 360 headset. Whoa! Let me get my checkbook out ícause Iíve been missing a healthy dose of 14-year-olds from fly-over country calling me a ďf***in g**-a** n***** f*****Ē as my pimp-avatar Double-Cat Snookie Puss gets filled full of lead.

Saintís Row idiotically apes everything good about GTA while reminding you why teenagers should be pushed off a cliff. Thanks a ton, Volition. D-

ó Glenn Given