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Saint’s Row is a laugh in the face of ‘serious’ games

saints-row-iv

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Let’s talk Saint’s Row. The first trailer just dropped, and Saint’s Row IV looks to have everything about the franchise we’ve come to know and love — plus superpowers, car-surfing like it’s 1984, rocket launchers in guitar cases, huge cocks, superpowered nut punches, pimped-out monster trucks, more nut punches, a giant energy drink can in the form of the Destroyer … . Y’know what, here, just watch the damn thing:

The thing I love about Saint’s Row (and I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately in relation to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance) is that it truly doesn’t give a fuck. Yes, it’s adolescent, and no, it isn’t going to bring a tear to my eye or advance the way interactive media tells a story, but who cares? With the number of games out there that portend to be the future of adult storytelling but filter their interpretation through blood-soaked, fast-paced gameplay (I’m looking at you, Call of Duty), it’s refreshing to see titles like MGR or Saint’s Row IV come along and remind us that we’re supposed to be having fun. That is the point of playing games, if I’m not mistaken.

This is a fact acknowledged in the trailer, with words like “epic saga” and “of a generation” pounding themselves to the front of the screen. It’s a technique employed by many more “adult” titles to up the dramatic impact of the trailer for the latest iteration of their franchise.

Above: Then this happens.

Before we go any further, let’s just make sure we’re on the same page about what I mean by “adult” in this context: no superpowered nut punches, huge cocks, or pimped-out monster trucks but no explosion-fueled, blood-soaked rage fests, either. By adult I mean, well … slow. Serious. Stodgy, even. “Best Picture” Oscar material. No pure-bred comedy has ever won Best Picture (if you’re thinking of Annie Hall, it wasn’t that funny, and stop IMDBing so much), nor has any Michael Bay movie. With the industry’s apparent insistence that games can’t be their own thing and should instead aspire to be interactive films, I’ll stand by this comparison of the Oscars’ definition of “adult drama.”

And look, I’m not completely shitting on serious games — just those that would masquerade as an adult experience while being as base and adolescent as Saint’s Row or Metal Gear Rising at the core. Truly dramatic, adult experiences are out there and can be wonderfully entertaining. Journey, I would say, falls into this category. Even Spec Ops: The Line — a shooter in the purest, most profitable sense of the term — develops the lead character in a meaningful way and makes you cringe at the choices he’s making.

But there is a time and a place for everything, and dammit, I occasionally want to beat someone to death with a comically large purple dildo.

Saint’s Row, as a franchise, has never tried to lie about what it is and seems to embrace its Chuck E. Cheesian essence more wholeheartedly with each new release. It will never present you with the image of a war-torn battlefield to remind you, in case you’d forgotten, that these men are heroes dammit, and as such their predilection to press their balls on the faces of their fallen opponents is completely justified.

Above: Pictured: Drama.

So thanks, Saint’s Row, for the honest and unabashed display of blood and tits. And you, Metal Gear Rising, for, well, the honest and unabashed display of blood and tits. Without you, we gamers might start taking ourselves too seriously. Like the action and Lampoon movies that came before you, you serve to remind us that in a world where even the most pretentious attempts at art can call themselves meaningful, the best experiences can be those that speak to our inner child and provide us with genuine levity — bodies of work that truly and deeply do not give a fuck.