Aside from the formula for Coca-Cola, no pop culture secret has been more difficult to replicate than Grand Theft Auto's recipe for open-ended videogaming thuggery. A few have had moderate RC Cola-level acceptance, but most have been Crystal Pepsi-sized failures. Finally, however, we have a winner. Saints Row is the Pepsi to GTA's Coke.
Emulating GTA with near-perfect precision - a subversive, satirical sense of humor is the only thing lacking - Saints Row drops your custom-created anti-hero into the fictional city of Stilwater, a seedy metropolis whose four gangs (the Carnales, Vice Kings, Westside Rollerz, and your 3rd Street Saints) vie for control over the town's boroughs.
Each gang has its own mini story arc, and defeating each one requires you to complete a series of missions. They'll range from the usual FedEx-style delivery tasks that run you around the city to more challenging jobs, such as shooting down a rival's private jet before it has a chance to take off... while being shot at by rocket launcher-toting gangsters and pursuing cars.
The missions are, for the most part, fairly enjoyable, but a frustrating handful are aggravated by the massive distances you'll need to travel to reach them. It's not so bad driving for five minutes across the entire city to reach your destination, but when a particularly troublesome task makes you retry the commute several times, you'll be more than ready to shoot someone. A mid-mission checkpoint would have gone a long way towards easing the pain.