The Saints Row universe is a very strange place. A major criminal organisation is allowed to run about doing as they please, and they have a huge fan base because of it. Saints’ merchandise is everywhere in this world. Then you have the other gangs who fight for control, with themes of their own.
If you’re part of these gangs you pretty much have access to the best cars and weapons to use in this playground of destruction. However, if you’re just a regular citizen then your life is more a representation of a bizarre nightmare, filled with dildo bats, deadly gameshows and a rather large emphasis on the colour purple.[drop]This is a world where shootouts can occur at anytime, featuring brutes and people armed with everything from small firearms, snipers in helicopters, and grenade launchers. And that’s a normal day in Steelport when the Saints arrive. Throw in the wanton destruction of property and you’ll find living under the Saints would not be great for your health or finances.
The police are wholly unequipped to deal with the likes of the Saints, and don’t have the best backing. Steelport’s mayor even offers to put SWAT teams at the disposal of the Saints. The rule of law isn’t just ignored here; it is pummeled into the ground and then run over by an indestructible car. Without the means to combat the incursion of the Saints and the other gangs, the police may as well not bother turning up.
With The Saints at war with The Syndicate, the alliance of gangs in Steelport, a regular person doesn’t have a real chance. The Syndicate control everything that happens in Steelport and have maintained that power by taking control of major assets, including the city’s power plant. The Saints arrive and try to take control by eliminating the Syndicate. There is no noble cause here. It’s all about the money, body counts be damned.
So is it any surprise that STAG, the anti gang unit, roll into town to combat this situation? It shouldn’t be, and if you were a citizen then the reintroduction of order would be welcomed. By this time a war has broken out in Steelport, escalating right past the street shootouts and up to a bridge being blown up. There is no choice but for a full military operation to secure the streets and neutralise the threat the country is facing on its own soil.
It isn’t like the Saints and Syndicate are some low-level street gangs. They bring serious damage, including the destruction of the Hughes Memorial Bridge. That major destruction could be classed as a terrorist attack, and force against both gangs is especially justified in that scenario. The fact that the government has let the Saints and Syndicate become so big before stopping them just boggles the mind.
The idea to have STAG ‘invade’ Steelport is the brainchild of Senator Monica Hughes, who wants to get rid of the gangs and restore order. However, both her and the STAG soldiers are perceived to be wrong or evil. As players we fall into the trap of seeing the STAG soldiers as an enemy that has to be destroyed, despite us being the ones who have broken pretty much every major law in the game.
Maybe STAG’s methods are a bit out there, such as having fighter jets patrolling the sky, but this over the top reaction is a much better response than the police’s lack of preparation. At first everything seems to be going well for STAG; some order is quickly established and they seem to be mopping things up quickly, making the streets safe again, but when the Saints meddle a mess appears.[drop2]The Saints continue their activities of taking on the Syndicate, escalating the conflict until the streets become a war zone again, this time STAG having to get involved. The situation has become so desperate that STAG leadership itself goes a bit off the deep end, threatening to blow up a monument and kill Shaundi as well as others in a bid to frame the Saints.
It’s a desperate move that is thwarted by you, but it speaks volumes of just how far the Saints have driven people that they think this is a valid response to the Saint’s antics. STAG are willing to do anything to get rid of this group because of how dangerous they are. The fact that they tried to frame a monument destruction on the Saints also puts into perspective that this is something people would believe. No one would say the Saints aren’t capable of such an action.
Of course, Shaundi is saved (at least in the canon ending) and STAG are defeated and forced to leave Steelport. Everything works out for the Saints, but where does that leave the regular person? In a city where crime pays and a complete lack of a safety net to save them. In this world if you’re not a Saint you’re a moving target.