The Saints Row series has had a series of identity crises. The original two games were grounded, gritty, and realistic. This garnered many comparisons to the popular GTA series, which caused the developers to respond by cranking up the craziness to eleven. Every Saints Row game from then on out was balls-to-the-walls crazy, with whacky weapons, characters, and stories.
When the new reboot was announced, many players — myself included — hoped that this would be a return to form for the series and that we’d be getting a game like the original two. But when we started getting trailers that showed off the tone and gameplay of the reboot, many fans were disappointed. When the game finally came out, reviews started pouring in, and the results were, well…
If you’re reading this, chances are that you already know. While it’s incredibly disheartening to hear that such a beloved franchise is (most likely) dead, there is comfort in knowing we have alternatives. Instead of wasting my money on a broken mess of a game, I decided to go back and re-play some older games that give a glimpse into what Saints Row could have been if it followed a brighter path.
In today’s article, we’re covering ten games like the Saints Row series, ranked in no particular order.
10 Games Like the Saints Row Series, Ranked in No Particular Order
These games feature many elements found in the Saints Row series (such as an open-world, vehicles, third-person combat, and more). Hopefully you’ll give these games a try if you haven’t already — they deserve all the love and care they can get.
Without any further delays, let’s jump right into the main article!
1. Just Cause 3
First up on our list, we have the Just Cause series! This is a collection of third-person action games with over-the-top and incredibly satisfying combat. One of the most well-rated and popular Just Cause games is Just Cause 3. Released in 2015, the game takes place on an island inside the Mediterranean sea, and the open world is one of the biggest in gaming.
The game is played from a third-person perspective, and you have a whole sandbox of tools at your fingertips. You can paraglide around the islands, use your grappling hook to get up to hard-to-reach places, drive a variety of destructive vehicles, and have access to many different guns. The combat is much more similar to the newer Saints Row games then it is to the original two.
The open world is very beautiful, and completing the missions is a hell of a lot of fun. Just Cause 3 definitely has my recommendation if you love sandbox-like games where you can mess around and cause loads of chaos and destruction.
2. Grand Theft Auto IV & V
Okay, we all knew this was coming. The Saints Row series has long been accused of copying its gameplay and open-world from the more popular Grand Theft Auto series. I can completely understand where this is coming from. But regardless of how similar Saints Row is to GTA, you can’t deny that they are both fantastic games. It shouldn’t be a surprise that many fans of Saints Row love GTA, and vice versa.
Which GTA game you should play really depends on if you prefer the original Saints Row games or the whackier ones. Grand Theft Auto IV — my personal favorite in the GTA series — has a much darker, more grounded tone. It tells the story of Niko Bellic as he descends into the criminal underworld and struggles to climb his way out alive. There are no over-the-top vehicles, weapons, or missions, leaving GTA IV as the more realistic option.
Grand Theft Auto V, while not as whacky as the newer Saints Row games, takes on a more light-hearted, yet sometimes serious tone. It features some cool sci-fi weapons and vehicles in the online segment. Both the single-player and online modes have some pretty over-the-top missions for you to complete. Regardless of which style of game you prefer, you should really give both a try!
3. Mad Max
Up next, we have one that you might be surprised to read — the 2015 game Mad Max! Mad Max went under the radar upon its release seven years ago because most games based on movies are poorly made. That has caused them to garner a negative reputation among gamers. Well, Mad Max is the exception to this common trait.
The game is a sort of prequel to the 2015 movie Mad Max: Fury Road (although the game isn’t canon). You join up with a lovable hunchback named Chumbucket. He’s a mechanic who provides you with a Magnum Opus, a highly customizable car that he will tune to your liking. You can add more armor to the car, but that slows it down. You can get a better engine, but it adds more weight to your vehicle.
The whole modification system is based on the idea that adding one mod will have a positive effect, usually along with a drawback of some kind. This makes every choice when modding your ride more impactful. It’s something I wish a lot of GTA-like open-world games had. So if you really love vehicle combat and customizing cars in games like Saints Row, this is a more focused and improved iteration of that.
Additionally, the open world — despite being one big desert — is packed with a variety of open-world activities for you to do. Combat is in third-person, and there is a big emphasis on melee gameplay. The only guns you have access to are a sniper rifle and a shotgun. This allows the game to focus much more heavily on brawling. If you love these types of third-person action games, Mad Max is for you!
4. inFAMOUS 2
Now for one of my personal favorite games of all time, inFAMOUS 2! This is an open-world, third-person action-adventure game set in the fictional city of New Marais, modeled after the real-world New Orleans. The game brings us the conclusion of Cole Macgrath’s story from the first inFAMOUS game, but you don’t need to play the first one to enjoy everything that this game has to offer.
For the gameplay, Cole Macgrath has access to a variety of superpowers (mostly electrokinesis) that he uses to defeat enemies and protect (or harm, depending on your choices) the people of the city. It’s the superhero simulation game that you’ve always wanted! Despite the game being fairly old, the gameplay still holds up to this day. If you love the superpowers of Saints Row IV, then you will definitely love inFAMOUS 2!
One thing that you might be on the fence about, however, is the size of the game’s map. New Marais is a much smaller city then what you’d find in a typical Saints Row game. Personally, however, I really prefer a smaller and more densely-packed open world. There are many great points of interest on the map, and there are loads of fun things to do. It’s honestly refreshing to play after exploring so many massive, empty worlds in gaming.
5. Sleeping Dogs
Halfway through our list, we have the game Sleeping Dogs! Sleeping Dogs is a GTA-like game that sadly isn’t nearly as popular as it should be. The game is set in the city of Hong Kong, and the open world really does it justice. As for the story, you play as a police officer who has gone undercover, with the intention of infiltrating a gang. You’ll have to navigate the criminal underworld carefully while trying to not blow your cover!
It’s another third-person game, and like Mad Max, there is a big emphasis on melee combat. You do gain access to several firearms that you can use, which is great, as I’ve always preferred shooters to brawlers. This is a really great game to play if you loved the grittiness and combat of the original two Saints Row games. There are no sci-fi gizmos or over-the-top powers, just you and your fists.
6. Far Cry 2–6
For our next pick of ten games like the Saints Row series, we have the Far Cry series! Far Cry is one of my absolute favorite series of games. It gives you a big open-world to explore filled with outposts to capture, missions to complete, and lots and lots of things to shoot. The game has some really great gunplay and cool vehicles to drive, especially in Far Cry 6, where you’re given access to tanks!
As for which of the games in the series you should play, it really all depends on which of the Saints Row games you preferred. Did you like the gritty and realistic first two? Then play Far Cry 2, 3, and/or 4. If you prefer a game with a tone that is (usually) light-hearted and fun, play Far Cry 5 and/or 6. The latter two do have plenty of serious story moments, but both games as a whole don’t feel as gritty as past entries.
Regardless of which one you choose, you should definitely give at least one of them a try. If you loved the chaotic and explosive gameplay of Saints Row, you will feel right at home with a Far Cry game. Even though Far Cry is a first-person game and not in third-person, you’ll still have fun with the gunplay. While most Far Cry games have grounded weapons, 5 and 6 have some that are on the wackier side!
7. Watch Dogs
Up next, we have another Ubisoft open-world game, though this one is notably more similar to Saints Row than the last one is. Watch Dogs sees you take on the role of a hacker in the streets of Chicago in the near future, in an age where technology is used to provide law and order at the cost of privacy and civil liberty. Watch Dogs may not be a perfect game, but it still has plenty of things going well for it.
The main protagonist gets wrapped up in the criminal underworld while on a revenge quest to avenge a dead family member. This story isn’t The Last of Us levels of good, but it’s solid enough to facilitate gameplay. The game shares many traits with Saints Row, such as third-person combat set in a gritty cityscape. Speaking of this, the game beautifully captures a dystopian, near-future Chicago.
Watch Dogs features many elements commonly seen in GTA-like games, such as its open world and its huge variety of different interactable locations. The most exciting thing about Watch Dogs is the hacking. In this game, nearly everything in the city is hooked up to one big security network that you can exploit for your own benefit. You can hack street lights to cause collisions, or even cause a blackout to escape the police!
8. Mafia: Definitive Edition
For our next pick, we have the Mafia games, which you may recognize for their most recent reboots. Mafia takes place during the Prohibition-era in Illinois, where you are a taxi driver who joins up with a mafia. Throughout the game, you’ll climb your way up the family as you assist the organization with a variety of different tasks and objectives.
The gameplay is primarily that of a third-person shooter and features a variety of authentic 1930s weapons. And when you’re not busy shooting things, you’ll be driving through the city streets in classic cars. It’s a really nice change of pace for a GTA-like game due to its setting and time period. It manages to have similarities to games like Saints Row while using the 1930s setting to make it feel fresh and unique.
For our next pick, we have one of my personal favorite games: Crackdown! I remember getting this game for the first time on Xbox 360 years ago when I was just a kid, and I instantly fell in love with it. In the game, you play as a member of The Agency, a police-like organization dedicated to preserving law and order. In Pacific City, the location of the first game, several gangs have begun causing chaos.
The Agency is deployed to help take the city back and preserve law and order. You are one of their agents. You have access to a variety of different weapons, high-tech vehicles, and incredible superpowers to stop them. One of my favorite abilities is that you can use your super strength to pick up cars and launch them at enemies! I definitely recommend it if you loved Saints Row IV.
If you love detailed and highly interactable open worlds, you may be a bit disappointed with Crackdown. The open world is still great, don’t get me wrong, but it feels a bit emptier than what you’ll find in a Saints Row game or any of the others on this list. The story for the game is just okay for the most part. There is one particular moment in the game that really stands out, but I’ll let you experience it on your own.
10. Sunset Overdrive
Last but not least on our list of ten games like the Saints Row series, we have Insomniac’s Sunset Overdrive. This is a game that I skipped out on when it was first released several years ago, as I did not have an Xbox One. But I finally got around to playing it when it hit Steam. And oh boy, do I regret not getting it sooner. This is a third-person shooter with some platforming elements added to the game.
The combat for the game is action-packed and explosive. My favorite part about it is how the movement in the game works. You can grind on rails and use certain parts of the environment to move around and avoid enemies, which makes traversing the world a blast. The aesthetics of the game are very bright and colorful, and it’s a very pretty game to look at despite its release almost a decade ago.
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