We've checked out the customisation options in the upcoming Saints Row, and can announce that it is looking to go above and beyond.
Being able to pimp yourself and your surroundings has been an important part of the Saints Row series ever since Saints Row 2 was released. Volition was quite ahead of the curve with a comprehensive system for this, and being able to personalise any design has been a given and has become increasingly more complex ever since.
This August, however, is the time for a reboot of the Saints Row series, and judging from what we've seen, there are some pretty big changes in store as the series returns to its roots on a whole new generation of consoles. So what about the customisation in this case then? Has it been pushed aside in favour of realism? The answer to that question is a resounding no. I can say this with rock-solid certainty after taking part in a presentation showing what we have to look forward to in this area.
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Rather than fiddling with it ever so slightly, Volition has cranked up the customisation options to a whole new level. The most obvious, of course, is your own protagonist, with all artificial limitations removed. So anyone who wants to make a macho character with steel skin but the voice of a little girl can create just that.
And by steel skin, I mean literally skin made of steel, as a wide range of textures are at your disposal. If you feel you'd rather have clear blue rubber skin, that's fine, or wood or something else entirely. You can also mix the genders any way you like, and the full list of tools is available regardless of your choices. In fact, anyone who wants to create their own version of the Batman villain Two-Face can do so, as the face is split into two halves that can be modified differently. The usual system where you can get a tattoo or a scar on a predetermined side, has been thrown out the window. Now you can have halves of your face with different shapes, different facial hair, scars and so on.
But why stop there? Volition has also brought in the heavy artillery when it comes to your choices. That means you can detail everything, including things like your character's teeth, swap out body parts for prosthetics, and even have contact lenses that can look pretty much any way you want. That goes for clothing too, with Volition proudly announcing that you can have multiple layers of clothing. If you want to wear a pair of worn jeans under your chaps, go for it, and if you'd rather have naked (and sunburnt) buttocks visible through the chaps - that works too. If you want more garments, there are of course shops to visit, among which we also find classics from the past such as Leather & Lace.
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In short, the tools for character creation are impressive. Perhaps not just because they are better and more flexible than before, but above all because they are so diverse and offer such fun options. But on top of this, there is so much else that can be rebuilt and modified. If you want your car to look like a pirate ship with sails and everything, that's fine, but if you'd rather have a Tron-inspired motorcycle, that's no problem either, nor is going for a hoverboard, and so on.
While being able to change the colour and rims of your wheels (which of course you can do here too, and even have animated ones) has been seen before when customising cars, here it's taken to a whole new level. Sure, you can throw on spoilers and go for a hot-rod engine, but the possibilities are so infinitely greater in Saints Row. And I haven't even mentioned the fact that your cars can have a towline that can be used in a variety of ways - one of which is to drag a giant iron ball behind you to wreak havoc while you drive around.
Cars are an important part of Saints Row and over 80 models are available. You can tinker and enhance them freely, and change the engine sounds, the horn, add boosts, or even create a tank with a built-in catapult (where a wingsuit allows you to continue your journey in flight), or something else entirely. It's your imagination rather than the tools that set the limits.
The latter spills over into the weapons as well. Why settle for boring weapon skins when you can get so much more? Here you can take your favourite guns and change their colours and textures, or attach stickers... but most importantly, you can change their shape. Why not create a shotgun that looks like an umbrella, so you can strut around like The Penguin? Or turn a bazooka into a guitar case like a true mariachi? Maybe walk around with giant foam hands that also double as guns?
As you might guess, Volition has gone over the top with your crib as well. Exactly how many of those we'll get, we don't know, but there's plenty of room for spectacular things. Maybe have a guest greeted by a giant fire-breathing robot, put a cool statue depicting an armed gang member in the dining room, or go for something with dinosaurs. You'll even be able to shape the neighbourhoods around you with your choices, with a total of 14 scattered around Santo Ileso.
As fun as it is to personalise things, there's no doubt that gameplay is what matters. But of course, with good gameplay in place, it's always fun to be able to make a game world your own. And if Saints Row actually delivers the entertainment, there's no doubt whatsoever that the customisation suite will help make this something truly special. It actually looks that good.