Who you calling a clone, fool?
At first glance, you can be forgiven for labeling this a GTA clone, or rip off, if your so inclined.
But to so would be at your own peril, because, whilst the foundation is similar GTA San Andreas, above that it takes what GTA:SA did so well and base a new and original game that stands uniquely separate from the series which the the obvious comparisons come from. Especially when its released at a time when there was no GTA for the 360 or PS3 to be seen.
It is at is point it parts ways with GTA with a complete lack of seriousness.
All you need to do is look at the crew of gangsters that you'll be taking over stilwater with, and the banter that occurs between them. Johnny Gat alone could probably spawn his own internet show (are you reading this, Volition?).
And you have to give credit to Volition here for getting a cast of actor's, that include the likes of Michael Clarke Duncan, Keith David and the late David Carradine, to bring the characters to life. And boy do they do a good job of it!
The story might only be satisfactory at best, but at least it play's to the lack of any real seriousness and allows you to just go around creating random mayhem at your own leisure, whether it be on foot in an array of different clothes variations that can be brought or on in your customized pimp wagon, having a laugh casually causing mayhem where ever you go.
And unlike the protaganist's of GTA, you can customise your outlaw's physical appearance anyway you want, then further personalize them with an array of clothes you can buy from any good retailer in stillwater. The same can be said for your cars that can be stolen from anywhere in town.
Just simply find a car that you like the look of and hijack it, loving or otherwise. Then just take it to a garage, select you paint job, pay the price and hey presto!, as long as you remember to park it in one of your garages first.
You'll probably need a few of those car's as well, as stillwater is a sizable place, and there is plenty to do across the length and breadth of it, whether it's taking out any of the 3 main gangs, protecting drug dealers, car races, hitman jobs or hijacking car's for chop shop's.
To be honest, there isn't too much to criticize about Saints Row that i can find. The most significant glitch is the one that causes the highway to disappear beneath you car. You still travel along it, it just unintended, and is actually quit amusing!
The Bottom Line
If you like GTA-esque games with comedy, this sandbox gem is definitely worth a look.