Saint's Row

Every day, some gat-toting punk game blasts its way across your console, frontin' like it's the next Grand Theft Auto... unless you're an Xbox 360 owner, in which case you're still thugless. Veteran developer Volition aims to change this with Saint's Row. On one hand, as yet another would be heir to the Grand Theft Auto empire, this ambitious prince may discover too late that it'll take more than mimicry to dethrone the reigning king. On the other hand, this is indeed one ambitious prince ... and he's packing.

Saint's Row highlights the process of clawing your way to the top of the criminal underworld. As usual, players begin the game at the bottom of the heap, but in the fictitious city of Stilwater (resembling old Detroit) you'll seize respect and riches through perseverance, ambition, and carefully planned illegal activities. However, it's less plot-oriented than GTA, so you have even more freedom to do things your way. Just which felonies you bring to fruition are up to you, as Saint's Row grants you free reign to participate in all manner of shady activities from pimping to grand larceny to insurance fraud. Yep. You read that one right. Insurance fraud. Hey, don't complain - you wanted something new in a game, right?

The methods you choose to build your following (and your empire of unwholesome shenanigans) have an impact on your standing in the city. Other Stilwater inhabitants: rival gangs, police, random townsfolk and even your own posse, will learn your reputation and react to your dastardly deeds, providing you with motivation for "playing your cards right."For instance, jacking a car and venturing too far out of your 'hood will earn you a cap in the ass. Smart law-breakers will want to resist the temptation to explore the entire map immediately and will instead pace themselves,building cred and power methodically.

But there's more to ruling the reckless than poppin' fools; a ganglord has to have a bit of class and style. From facial features to clothing, your character in Saint's Row can look like you want it to look, and you can change your looks as the game progresses to keep the po-po guessing.