Saint's Row is a game that is immersed a bit too deeply in the turgid "urban" culture that is incredibly popular just now, and that is its main sticking point. The controls are solid, the gameplay incredibly fun and the voice acting well done - it's all just a bit too shallow and empty. Starting with something fairly positive, the sound is just that - fairly positive. Weapon sound effects provide excellent feedback and are highly satisfying. The voice acting is superb, Volition wisely keeping the player's character completely silent, but made up for by a wide range of well acted NPCs. However, the music is just so rubbish and generic - unless you happen to like generic modern R&B or pretty guff rap - that I actually turn the radio off. The tracks may or may not be licensed tracks, I'm not up on the music type, but considering the joy to be had with the old skool (fool!) rap in San Andreas, it is frankly utter pap.
On that note, it is difficult not to compare Saint's Row to Grand Theft Auto 3, and with the best will in the world, it is hard not to say that it is a blatant rip-off in the laziest of ways. This would be bad enough were it only the game mechanic (which, to be fair, is better in many ways than GTA's), but it is the "humour" that is jarringly cut and paste from Rockstar's effort. What SHOULD have been transferred is the feeling of consequence from San Andreas, where even your gang members would be unimpressed with your assault on innocent bystanders. In Saint's Row, I accident kicked an old lady, and then watched as fellow gang members kicked her to death. Admittedly funny, but it also leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Maybe it's just me, but I do attempt to not kill innocent bystanders in this type of game, and pride myself in completing San Andreas with "only" 7 killed. I realise that this type of game relies on the choice and morality of the player, but I felt that this was removed slightly by at least one of the car stealing animations where your character automatically shoots the driver in order to steal their car. Not exactly what I would have chosen to do.
That being said, I don't believe that the game should be taken that seriously, and I suppose when you see the box you know what you're letting yourself in for. In summation, the game can essentially be called adequate. It is fun to dip in and out of and I have been doing exactly that for quite some time. The "but", however is fairly big but (ho HO!) - Saint's Row is missing something unquantifiable - a spark, an X Factor, if you will - leaving it strangely soulless.