DISCLAIMER: This list is an expression of my personal opinion and shouldn’t be taken as fact. If you rank these games differently then that’s great. But as a long-time fan, I have my own opinions and criticisms of the series and there are just certain games that I enjoy more than others. That being said, please enjoy my opinion.
It’s no secret by now that the Saints Row franchise is my favorite and the only series that I’ve played multiple times in the fifteen years that it’s been out. Everything, from the celebrated titles like Saints Row 2 to the lesser appreciated titles like Agents of Mayhem, each game has managed to carve a place in my heart, even if it took a bit of time.
So, after giving a lot of thought, I think I’ve finally got my list in the order that truly reflects my opinion on the franchise. You might agree with some, you might agree with others but the important thing to remember is that this is just my opinion and shouldn’t be taken seriously as the definitive list. Without further ado, here’s my Ultimate Saints Row Tier List.
SAINTS ROW TIER LIST
Saints Row (2006)
As the saying goes, you never forget your first, and that could never be truer than it is now. This wasn’t just the first game in the series that I played, it was also the first game I got for my Xbox 360 when I was younger. From reading about it in magazines to finally get my hands on it person, it was the birth of my love for the franchise.
That being said, it’s a game I love for completely personal reasons and not because it’s a technical marvel or the epitome of the open-world crime genre. Graphics and textures are subpar, even for the late 2000s, the controls are outdated, and the fact that cars are the only mode of transport seems almost too much of a disappointment to be a fact.
But, I didn’t notice all of these things back then. I spent hours replaying the story, trying to see if I could get a different ending if I got the “correct” mission order and things have never been the same since. So, for paving the way and being the spark that ignited my love for the franchise, the top spot goes to the original Saints Row.
Saints Row 2 & Saints Row IV
Now, this might be a take you don’t see often but hear me out. Both of these games sit so far apart on the Saints Row spectrum that it almost feels out of place to categorize them in the same genre and unfair to put them head to head against one another because, at the end of the day, I like each of them for almost the same reasons.
You have to think of Saints Row 1 & 2 and Saints Row 3 & 4 as their own pairs even though they all follow the same continuation. Each pair was made by a different team following a different vision so, the way I see it, it’s more like the fourth is a sequel to the third the same way the second is a sequel to the first.
Both games improved on the one that came before it and delivered a bigger and better experience, by comparison, doubling all the good ideas and introducing new ones that eclipse their predecessors. That’s why I see them as games that are completely opposite to one another but still equal when it comes to how much I enjoy playing them.
Now, if I had to get technical and pick one over the other, the obvious choice would be Saints Row 2. For the story, for the gameplay, for the layered clothing, and everything else in between, the second game far outshines the fourth. But I get equal amounts of entertainment out of each so on my list they get equal footing.
Agents of Mayhem
Yup, I know what you’re thinking, but I’m just going to come out and say it. Despite all the glaring flaws and obvious reasons to hate this game, I thoroughly enjoy playing Agents of Mayhem. Because from the moment I first loaded in, I could tell that this spin-off was going to be nothing like the Saints Row games that have come before.
So, from the very start, I treated it like what it was. Not a continuation of what the series is known for but an entirely new IP that borrowed familiar names and characters while delivering something new and interesting. A tactic that most long-time fans have a hard time accepting and for good reason. I mean, what started as a series about gangsters is now a game about Saturday morning super agents.
Still, the driving, the combat, the mobility, and the overall gameplay were everything I look for in the games that I like. Sure the Legion levels and lab designs are repetitive and bland copy-paste facilities, and the missions to unlock agents are insufferably identical but the level of entertainment I got from this game is something I always remember.
Saints Row the Third Original & Remaster
Despite this being the most successful game in the series so far and the starting point for many fans, this game was easily the hardest for me to love and recommend to this day. Don’t get me wrong, I still play it and I’m currently doing another playthrough as we speak, but this is by far one of my least favorite games in the entire series.
It’s not all bad, there’s just a lot to be critical about. Like the fact that we could buy properties but couldn’t live in them, the fact that the car engine audio is completely out of sync with the horrible driving controls or the fact that they tried to get rid of Johnny Gat off-screen like some worthless side character! Say what you want about Saints Row IV, at least I got to skip over all the driving entirely.
I suppose it’s out of love for this franchise that I’m so critical but I feel like this game was weighed down heavily by the 2 games that came before it and it makes the experience unbearable when all you can about is how much better things were before. It feels like more time in development would’ve gone a long way and just more logical refinement as a whole would’ve made the transition between three and two a lot better.
Like, why would I rob stores when I can buy them and make more money, and why do I have to buy the stores when my brand and colors are all over the building and the majority of the content inside is labeled with the Saints name. And worst of all, why are the majority of story missions just instructions to the side activities. Just…why?
Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell
Okay, now this has absolutely no business being sold as a separate game whatsoever. If you were unlucky enough to pay money for this stand-alone game and not get it in a bundle or free on Games with gold or something then boy does my heart go out to you because this was a game we could’ve avoided.
This game feels like a good idea that someone had so they went with it but then a few months into it they were like “Nah, it’s a bad idea” but then insisted on pushing through with it until the day of release. they even admit in the story that the writers could come up with a coherent plot and created arbitrary reasons to connect the story to the gameplay.
And it’s short! This game can be completed in one session maximum if you’re just working your way through the campaign and I see no reason for me to ever go back unless I’m going for all of the achievements. The only reason it’s in my collection is that, as a die-hard Saints Row fan, I just have to own it.
Saints Row Reboot???
Seeing as it’s only SEPTEMBER 2021, we’re still a few months away from playing it for the first time so there’s no telling where it may fall on the list but I’ve already been thinking hard about the `improvements I’d like to see and the new stuff I hope makes the game great. Fingers crossed they get this one right.
Have you played the Saints Row franchise? How would you rank them on your tier list? Let me know in the comments below.