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The first in the Saints Row series of games.
You create your soon-to-be antiheroic mime (nicknamed "Playa" in the first game, "Boss" in the second and third), who starts out as just a random Joe walking the streets before being thrust into the middle of a four-way gang war by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. When the Third Street Saints rescue him, he joins their gang and has to help them reclaim first their neighborhood, then the city of Stilwater (based on Detroit and other Midwestern cities) from the other three gangs:
- Los Carnales, the obligatory Hispanic gang, backed up by the obligatory Colombians. (red)
- Vice Kings, African-Americans bankrolled by a former member turned record company executive. In bed with the police. (yellow)
- Westside Rollerz, car racers/enthusiasts being guided by an unknown hand. (blue)
However, just as you think the game is over, a short new line of missions reveal themselves, leading to a turn of events that result in "Playa" being caught in a boat explosion, the resolution being revealed in the second game.
- Action Girl: Women appear among the ranks of the various gangs mooks and most gangs have important high ranking female members such as Luz, Tanya, and of course Lin. Though only Lin is much of an actual action girl. Tanya is willing to get her hands dirty and becomes the Vice Kings leader, but when confronted she folds like paper. Luz is basically just a gold digger who hooked up with a high profile member of Los Carnales.
- All There in the Manual: There is a (somewhat vague) hint in the manual in that the "undercover officer" states that this meeting might blow his cover. He lights a cigarette and Troy's never seen without a cigarette within reach.
- This is later confirmed in the hidden ending when the man in question pulls out his badge and examines it. Unless he's joined the cops while the cutscenes weren't looking (unlikely, given the drama it would involve), it confirms him as the undercover cop.
- Bad Santa: To celebrate the holidays, a free Santa suit was made available to download from Xbox Live.
- Between My Legs: This happens late in the Vice Kings storyline with Tanya Winters.
- Deus Ex Machina: Of a sort. At the very end of the game, it looks like Hughes is going to succeed and destroy the Row... when a bomb suddenly goes off with no more warning than two beeps, destroying the boat and killing Hughes. It's not without its price, though -- before the sequel, it appeared the main character had also been killed... and even when the sequel revealed otherwise, your character was in a coma for five years between games.
- Disney Villain Death: The end of the Vice Kings storyline, where Tanya Winters is knocked out of King's penthouse, falling forty stories before landing on King's car.
- Downer Ending: The game ends with your character being blown up on a yacht, spending five years in a coma, and undergoing major reconstructive surgery prior to the second game. On the plus side, this justifies any and all appearance changes between the two games... except for, perhaps, the possible different gender. But just pretend it was always like that.
- Dude, She's Like, in a Coma: One of the movies advertised at the "Peep This" theater is called "Comatose Whores 4"
- Enemy Civil War: The Vice Kings still loyal to King vs the Vice Kings who sided with Tanya.
- Fake Difficulty: The Player Character can't figure out how to stick his RPG launcher over a ledge when he's aiming downward, so you end up blowing yourself up. The frequency of missions where you're expected to drive competently at high speeds and do damage to an enemy car with a weapon instead of your car near the endgame goes way up. Strangely, this is helped in the sequel by two changes - cruise control and remapping of the driving controls (allowing you to steer/shoot with your left hand and accelerate/aim with your right hand, rather than having accelerate/aim/shoot all done with the right hand as in this game).
- Game Breaking Bug: Want infinite money? Go to the Downtown Chop Shop and get a 5-star wanted level with the police. Then just keep turning in FBI vans for as long as you please at $5000 a pop.
- Or, steal an armored car, park it in your garage, take it out again, destroy it, collect the $10,000+ that spills out, get a new armored car from your garage for $500, repeat.
- Gangsta Style: Played straight, but averted in the sequel.
- Goofy Print Underwear: The underwear options include heart and polka-dot boxers.
- Grievous Harm with a Body: An Easter Egg found by calling 'Eye For An Eye' Zombie Lin appears as a homie, using her dismembered arm as a melee weapon.
- Heel Face Turn: Julius is a former Vice King, and owes Benjamin King a favor or two. King prefers to avoid killing unless he has to. He ultimately helps you dismantle his own gang when his lieutenants turn against him.
- Insistent Terminology: It's not The Los Carnales, it's just The Carnales.
- Justified, as "Los" means... aw, fuck it.
- Joke Character: Lik-A-Chik mascot Chicken Ned can be called as a homie by dialing a number "for a cluckin' good time".
- Klingon Promotion: Warren Williams tries to do this to seize control of the Vice Kings away from Benjamin King. While he briefly gains control of the gang, he fails to kill King, who turns to the Saints to help him get revenge. His girlfriend, Tanya, however, is considerably more successful in killing HIM to gain control.
- Meaningful Name: At the beginning, Aisha works for Kingdom Come Record company. Guess exactly where they get blown to when Aisha needs to fake her death?
- Not My Driver: One late Vice Kings mission. To get inside Big Tony's crib and save a captured Johnny, you must kill Tanya Winters' limo driver, take his place, and pick up Tanya and drive her around in order to get inside the crib.
- Oh Crap: When Angelo runs out of bullets in front of Playa and Dex, his face is priceless.
- Rich Bitch: Tanya Winters.
- Sacrificial Lion: Lin during the Rollerz plot.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: See Downer Ending.
- Silent Bob: The main character is silent, save for a few grunts and groans of pain throughout the game, but when he does speak, and he does speak, he often says the funniest things in the game. The four lines he actually gets are spoilered below:
- Vice Kings: "Hope you don't mind hepatitis." Said in response to Gat saying he "was gonna skullfuck that bitch (Tanya)". Even Gat is stunned that he finally opened his mouth.
- Los Carnales: "Bullshit! That's last year's fall collection!" Said when calling out Luz on her comments that the shoes she brought with her to the airport were from the current season's spring collection.
- Westside Rollerz: "I just got run over by a motherfuckin' truck! How do you think I feel?" Said to Julius after he asks how the player is.
- Endgame: "Can we hurry this shit up? I wanna go to Freckle Bitch's!" Said to, of all people, Alderman Hughes, while the latter is detailing his evil plan to gentrify Saints Row and explaining that since the player can't be bullied or bribed, he's going to be killed right then and there.
- This changes sharply in the sequel - the main character not only is an Antiheroic Mime no longer, he's really mouthy. All the time. He was only quiet in the first one because he was being a good henchman. He got tired of it.
Player Character: That mute shit was getting old.
- Smug Snake: William Sharp, uncle of Joseph Price, leader of the Westside Rollerz. He is also responsible for killing Lin. Fortunately, you get the chance to pursue him and nail his ass after he does.
- The Starscream: Warren to King, and Tanya to Warren.
- Strawman Political: Played for Laughs in the NPR-like KBOOM
"Are you saying the immigrants sank your battleship?"
- Wham Level: "Saints and Martyrs" (usually and erroneously referred to by the cutscene name, "Salting the Earth").
- White Gang-Bangers: Troy, Tanya, The Rollerz, and Playa if you want.