the best part of Saints Row is that your character is literally some random schmuck who accidentally got caught in the crossfire of a gang turf war
that’s seriously how the first game starts, you’re walking down the street one day and violence breaks out and you almost get executed for being a witness until the 3rd Street Saints show up and save your ass, so you decide to join up with them
four games later: you’re the goddamn president of America and you’re trying to fend off an alien invasion
and now you get kidnapped by Satan and your friends storm Hell to rescue you
i love this series
Let’s not sell it short, though:
You can be ANYONE. You create yourself. Are you a big, bald Cockney thug kicking ass and taking names for the Saints? Or are you a short, long haired lady of colour taking back the streets?
And the story is, well, pretty dark at the start. You’re just trying to live, when you get jumped by some Vice Kings who’ve decided this is their turf, and your death will echo that. Julius’ Saints come to your rescue, take you in, give you a life. In kind, you help push back, defending their turf and claiming new areas, all on a backdrop of undercover cops, gang rivalries and police corruption, and rise to lead the gang. Julius implores you to use the Saints to end the gang culture like he always wanted, but in the end you take a rather explosive course of revenge on a corrupt mayoral candidate.
The second game picks up with you recovering from your rather suicidal actions at the end of the first game, literally rebuilding your character as they lay on the medical table of a prison wrapped head to toe in bandages. When you break out and get back to the Saints, it’s all changed; Julius is gone, and they look to you to lead them. A military contractor, Ultor, is stamping down on the gangs, and has taken over the old Saints turf; 3 new gangs have taken up the power vacuum. After a lot of pretty nasty deaths (which Anita Sarkeesian should certainly have brought up by now in her videos, as they truly are fridged - one locked in the trunk of a car ran over in a monster truck derby, the other killed so there can be a shootout at her funeral) it comes down to you and Ultor - and then you find out it was Julius who bombed the mayor’s boat, in the hopes your death as well as the candidate’s would end the turf wars and bring peace. So, before you take out Ultor and rule with an iron fist, you shoot him dead too.
From there, the series turned away from the grit; the Saints have become celebrities, with TV shows and energy drinks making all the money instead of prostitution and drugs. They’re still robbing banks and such, inexplicably, and in the process end up being vault-napped to a whole new city. Yup, vault-napped. There’s a whole new military presence, called STAG, some Luchadores, and a whole lot of crazy silly gameplay. It’s very, very different from the first two. The fourth carries straight on from this, and truly is insane. But, in a key twist, amongst all of the crazy it takes time to acknowledge its roots, bringing you back to how the game started and the various major series events along the way.
I love this series, truly - but I will always wonder: what would SRtT be like if they’d kept the relatively straight faced story of the second rather than the all-out goofiness it was by release?