Me and the Saints Row series have kind of a convoluted history. I'd long dismissed it as a GTA knock-off, but was surprised at how much hype I was hearing for Saints Row: The Third. Since I am very susceptible to persuasion where video games are concerned, I went out and rented it.
I immediately fell in love with the world and the characters, and loved tearing around Steelport like a sociopathic trickster god. When the time came to return SR3 to the video store, I was sad to see it go.
Which is why I was pleased when I found the first two Saints Row games bundled together in a special edition for only 20 bucks. I thought this was an incredible deal and I was eager to learn more about the backstory of the 3rd Street Saints. So I started playing the original Saints Row . . .
And that was a mistake. The first game had some of the charm of the later entries of the series, introducing me to the wild and chaotically amoral world of Stillwater, but in terms of gameplay, it was awful. The cars didn't control very well and the on-foot fighting was worse. Checkpoints were all over the place and restarting failed missions often felt like a punishment. It was enough to turn me off the series for several months. And yet I couldn't just start with the superior Saints Row 2, because it starts in media res and an incomplete story greatly annoys me. It took me awhile, but eventually I powered my way through the first game, went on to the second, and realized that I should never have bothered to do it that way because holy hell, is SR1 the outlier in the series.
Since then, I've played the last three games multiple times each, and each one brings something different to the table. Saints Row 2 is the semi-respectable older brother of the bunch. It has a lot more open-world content and a more detailed and vital city. Saints Row: the Third probably has the best story of the bunch, being the entry where the Saints finally become true cartoon gangsters. And Saints Row IV just goes completely off the rails, in ways that are both wonderful and frustrating. Honestly, I could not pick a favorite one. I prefer to think of them as a single trilogy and play all three games back-to-back.
Which is what I'm going to do. I bought all three of them at the same time as part of one of those ridiculous Steam Sale bundles because I thought having all three games, plus all of the DLC for SR3 and SR4 would somehow make my life more convenient (despite the fact that I already had all that stuff thanks to buying the Game of the Year editions of the console versions). It was a foolish, impulsive action, but now I'm reaping the benefits because I get to play three really fun games in a row!
Because I'm really in the mood to blow shit up right now, I'm going to choose to call this a win.