The first game in the Saints Row series.You create your soon-to-be antiheroic mime (nicknamed "Playa" in the first game, "Boss" in the following ones), 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 (red), the obligatory Hispanic gang, backed up by the obligatory Colombians. They do arms and drug dealing.
Westside Rollerz (blue), Asians and Caucasian car/automobile enthusiasts from the suburbs doing illegal car sales and street racing.
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 - but he survives, and the resolution is revealed in the second game.
Provides Examples Of:
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.
There's another dead giveaway in the gang description section of the manual. "The Los Carnales" is written, and "The" is scratched out. Troy always refers to the gang as "The Los Carnales" and is consistently corrected by Dex.
Bad Santa: To celebrate the holidays, a free santa suit was made available to download from Xbox Live.
Bears Are Bad News: The Big Picture movie theater has a few ads for a movie called "Bears And Bullets" featuring a bear commando wielding an assault rifle AND a revolver!
Between My Legs: This happens late in the Vice Kings storyline with Tanya Winters.
Bling Bling Bang: Beating all the hitman missions will reward the player with 4 special weapons. A golden handgun, platinum SMG, and platinum shotgun for each individual list. For finishing all 3 the player then unlocks a platinum RPG. Of course, since several of the hitman targets in this game easily fall under Guide Dang It and Fake Difficulty most players are lucky just to get one bling weapon...
This game is also the first in the series to feature the mighty pimp cane shotgun.
Bloodstained Glass Windows: The main HQ for the Saints is a run down church that enemy gang members and cops have no problem following Playa into if he decides to run inside during a fight. One late game Los Carnales mission also involves the gang attacking the church directly. While most of the firefighting during this mission takes place outside the combat begins when some Carnales open fire on the Saints from the inside of the church.
Brick Joke: A few depending on what order the player fights the rival gangs in. For example, when the player is forced to drive around Tanya Winters she'll comment on Luz wearing outdated shoes. Then in the final Carnales mission Playa himself tells her pretty much the same thing. A little later Tanya will wonder aloud if Friendly Fire does giftwrapping when she stops there to buy a gun. Cue a Los Carnales mission where the shopkeeper at Friendly Fire asks the Saints if they want the McManus rifle they just bought to kill Hector giftwrapped.
A particularly long Brick Joke is when Gat has his knee shot by Warren Williams. In Saints Row IV, having Gat and Benjamin King together will prompt King to ask Gat about his leg.
Briefcase Full of Money: The woman hiring Playa during the cutscene for the Los Carnales hitman missions offers him one of these as a reward.
Burger Fool: Chicken Ned is a special homie who shows up wearing his Lik-A-Chik mascot outfit. Oddly, the actual Lik-A-Chik restaurant is never seen in the game like Freckle Bitch's restaurants are (which can be found all over the city) despite them even going so far as to put out ads on the radio.
Car Cushion: Happens to Tanya Winters during the Vice King arc.
Checkpoint Starvation: Most missions are short and easy enough that this isn't much of a problem for most of the game, but the last couple of missions in each gangs arc will probably try the patience of at least a few players. There is also a series of a few fairly difficult missions after all the gangs are beaten were checkpoints would have been nice. Thankfully, all later games in the series include checkpoints.
Clean Up The Town: The whole plot of the game is Playa being caught in a crossfire between Stilwater's various gangs as he is walking down the street and joining the 3rd Street Saints in an effort to curb the gang violence tearing the city apart. Unfortunately, after wiping out all the rival gangs Playa is caught in a massive boat explosion that leaves him in a coma. By the time he wakes up in the second game all he cares about is reclaiming the city for himself.
Cool Car: In addition to all the awesome cars players can make at Rim Jobs beating a certain activity will unlock a fully customized and pimped out Baron with spinning rims and zebra skin seats. The game also has a few special DLC vehicles that can only be bought off of Xbox Live.
"This is Stefan, owner of Impressions. The clothing shop where you shop for clothing you see."
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.
Dragon Ascendant / Dragon with an Agenda: There's actually no storyline where the enemy gang's boss is killed last - Hector Lopez is suceeded by Angelo, Benjamin King is betrayed by Warren, then Warren by Tanya and William Sharp is killed before Price
Early Installment Weirdness: Compare this to the silliness of later games and it's actually quite jarring to see how seriously this series started out.
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).
Friendly Local Chinatown: Lin, a high ranking member of the Saints comes from Stilwater's local Chinatown. The player can even pay this district a visit personally to do some activities, such as hitman missions for Mr. Wong.
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.
Gang Bangers: Almost all of the characters are members of different street gangs trying to gain full control of the city. The player character themself is a member of the only gang with (somewhat) noble goals in mind.
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.
Hollywood Voodoo: There are a few adds for a place called "Eye For An Eye" voodoo supplies. Calling them after completing the mission where Lin dies will unlock a zombie version of her as a homie.
Hyperactive Metabolism: As part of the Early Installment Weirdness, the game uses foods to restore health. While it certainly works, it's slightly jarring to see the Playa wolf down a whole burger within 2 seconds in the middle of a firefight. The system would be used again in Saints Row 2 before being abandoned afterwards.
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.
Loan Shark: The player can visit a loan office downtown for some quick cash, but if they fail to pay it back on time they'll be targeted by a hit squad.
Mascot: Several hotdog and drink mascots can be seen walking the streets. The player can even get a secret homie named Chicken Ned by calling a certain phone number.
Meaningful Name: At the beginning, Aisha works for the Kingdom Come Record company. Guess exactly where they get blown to when Aisha needs to fake her death?
No Periods, Period: Averted. The game actually calls one of its discount clothing stores "On The Rag" and they even make a return in the second game.
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.
Paper-Thin Disguise: One Vice Kings mission has Playa and Johnny dress up as members of the gang to frame them for crimes they commit so that the police department will be forced to crack down on them. How do they go about doing this? By simply putting on yellow jackets, which is especially funny if the player is otherwise wearing purple clothes and has purple hair. Amazingly enough no one notices it's them and and the plan goes off without a hitch.
Parking Garage: One stronghold mission tasks the player with wiping out a group of Vice King bookies who are meeting up at the Filmore parking garage to discuss rigging hockey games. (It's implied that Julius has lost a lot of his money betting on their rigged games before.)
Pimp Duds: A whole pimp suit can be unlocked by completing Snatch. Its actually pretty damn spiffy.
Police Brutality: Due to the more serious and realistic ghetto tone of this game compared to later games in the series this gets played for drama just as much as it gets played for laughs. One of Playa's job contacts was even unfortunate enough to be left in a wheelchair after a particularly nasty assault.
Punk in the Trunk: This was bound to happen sooner or later in the Rollerz arc since they were all such heavy car enthusiasts. What caught many players off guard was that this trope turns out to be the cause of Lin's death at the hands of William Sharp.
Safe Cracking: The player has to complete a short button-pressing minigame to open safes during the theft diversion in this game. You can also simply force the shopkeepers themselves to open it at gunpoint.
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 Anti-heroic 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.
Player Character: Being in charge is better than being a bitch who keeps his mouth shut and does what he's told.
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.
"Are you saying the immigrants sank your battleship?"
Stripperiffic: Beating one of the Escorts in this game unlocks a homie named Samantha. She works as an actual stripper and joins the player in battle while wearing nothing but a thong and pasties. Note that since she, by default, carries a rather powerful K6 Krukov, she's actually one of the more useful unique Homies around.
Sword Cane: Even back in the day Saints Row was still pretty crazy as shown by them one-upping this trope with a pimp cane SHOTGUN as an unlockable reward.
Third-Person Person: Stefan. This pisses off Ben King so bad that he threatens to drop him from a fast-moving car "by principle".
Trojan Horse: Dex uses this tactic to break into a Carnales stronghold with a large truck the player helped steal in an earlier mission. After the back is loaded with Saints they drive right through the front gates and tear Los Carnales a new one.
Villains Out Shopping: An entire Vice King mission focuses on transporting Tanya around town in her limo as she runs a few errands. The dialog the player is treated to while driving her to the various stores is pretty funny.
Tanya: "Sometimes I just wanna say "Fuck it all!" and go to Hollywood, you know?"
Wham Level: "Saints and Martyrs" (usually and erroneously referred to by the cutscene name, "Salting the Earth").
Woman Scorned: One of the mayhem activities begins with a woman telling Playa about how her husband left her for her sister and refuses to pay her the money he owes. So she asks Playa to raise hell and destroy all of his property to get him to cough up the cash.