GTA vs Saints Row: Lines in the sandbox…

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Despite what you might think, when I discuss ‘the sandbox war’ I won’t be discussing an epic battle between two toddlers down at the local recreation area. No, this article will be discussing a far larger battle moving into view on the horizon – Grand Theft Auto 5, vs Saints Row Four.

Of course, this is only the latest bout in a battle stretching back to the original Xbox, when Saints Row tried to emulate GTA’s distinctive, open-world style… and rather dropped the ball.

In fact, as Saints Row and GTA are now onto their fourth and fifth iterations, respectively, this bout is only a scuffle in the grand scale of things.

That said – this is the big one.

First up, we have Saints Row Four, the series’ latest and quite possibly wackiest game to-date.

Hail to the Chief...

Hail to the Chief…

This time around, the player is the President of the United States, and ends up being abducted by aliens, plugged into a Matrix-like computer, gifted with superpowers and left to cause mayhem.

So far, so Saints Row. The series has become well-known for its outlandish (and hilarious) antics – a fact that the developers put to good use in Saints Row: The Third, which directly competed with GTA 4 for punter’s hard-earned moolah.

In fact, The Third did rather well – especially after gamers discovered that the ‘real-life’ vibe of GTA 4 meant no parachuting, no aircraft, and absolutely no nut-punching granddads before riding them like a surfboard into the oncoming traffic.

Rockstar attempted to rectify this with GTA 4 add-ons in the form of The Ballad of Gay Tony and The Lost and Dammed, but GTA just can’t compete with Saints Row for the ‘outlandish gaming nonsense’ award.

That is, until GTA 5.

Looks like fun...

Looks like fun…

Rockstar’s Xbox 360 swan song offers three playable characters is expected to offer loads of side activities, scuba diving, aircraft, parachuting, heists and a whole bunch of content not seen in the games since the days of GTA 3 and Vice City.

In fact, it seems like Rockstar is deliberately trying to inject some of the ‘fun’ back into GTA which was lost as players tramped around GTA 4′s Liberty City, trying to get into your online date’s panties and fending off calls from your annoying cousin.

No, Roman, I don’t want to go bowling with you. Bugger off!

The question is, then, which game will offer more to the player. And the answer to that question is always a tricky one, as every gamer is different.

Personally, I loved GTA4 for its ‘realism’, and I found Saints Row: The Third to be just a little too out-of-this-world for my liking. Sure, it was fun, but in cramming in as much wacky content as Volition did, the developer reduced the game to little more than a Victorian freak show, tied together with a nonsensical plot.

That said, they do make a damn good trailer:

I can’t wait to get my hands on both these titles – but, at the risk of putting myself square in the sights of Volition fanboys… I think I’ll opt for GTA 5′s highly ambitious three-player-character monster.