In Saints Row, the combat system is fairly basic.
Hand to hand combat is used by selecting the Fists. Against a standing opponent, the Left and Right Triggers are used to swing the left and right fists respectively, and holding both triggers down at the same time performs a block. Pressing the Left Bumper kicks, which can break through an opponent's defense. Successfully pulling three punches in a row without the target blocking causes Playa to utilise a special third move which immediately knocks down and kill the target. Against an opponent lying on the floor, the Right Trigger performs a light stomp while the Left Trigger performs a heavy stomp. Pressing the Left Trigger with any non-melee weapon but the McManus equipped hits an enemy with the butt of the gun.
Because the McManus is a sniper rifle, it has the unique ability of zooming in on targets by pressing the Left Trigger. Pressing the Zoom button zooms in three times, with the fourth press causing the sniper rifle to zoom back out to normal view.
Blocking is achieved by holding the Primary and Second Attack buttons at the same time while unarmed. It is not possible to block while using a weapon.
Saints Row 2
Hand to hand combat is used by selecting the Fists. Against a standing opponent, the Primary Attack button performs a right punch/kick and the Secondary Attack button performs a left punch/kick. Depending on the Fighting Styles selected, the properties of these basics attacks vary in speed, range, start up and recovery. Holding both attacks buttons down at the same time performs a block. Pressing and holding the Primary Attack button performs a critical move, which can break through an opponent's defense. Against an opponent lying on the floor, the Primary Attack button performs a light stomp while the Secondary Attack button performs a heavy stomp.
In Saints Row 2, there are four different fighting styles:
- Brawling (Default)
- Professional Wrestling (The Brotherhood)
- Tae Kwon Do (Ronin)
- Capoeira (Sons of Samedi)
At the beginning of the game, only the basic Brawler style is available, with additional styles being unlocked after completing the sixth mission in each gang's arc. Techniques vary in speed and power, as do individual finishing moves.
Saints Row 2 has more unique attacks, activated by landing any three melee attacks in a row without the opponent blocking. There may also be finishing moves for grounded opponents.
- Superman Punch - a sucker punch (holding the victim's head forward by their shirt, jumping up and punching them in the face)
- Kick to the groin
- Knee to the Face (holding the victim's head, pulling it down to knee them in the face)
- Backhand Slap - a Pimp Slap (swinging the back of a hand into the victim's face with a little flick at the end)
- Lifting Side Slam (The Rock Bottom)
- Side Slam Backbreaker
- Three Headbutts in the face (Holding the victim's head, and hitting it with three headbutts)
- Death Valley Driver (Fireman's Carry)
- One Middle Kick Spinning Jump-Kick (kicking them in the low torso to weaken them, and finishing them with a round-house kick)
- Two Middle Punches Spinning Jump-Kick (two punches to the torso to weaken them, finishing them with a round-house kick)
- Two Middle Kicks, and a Body Slam
- Two High Spinning Kicks to the Head (The Boss spins around while kicking the opponent in the head, stunning them, and then knocks them down with a stronger follow-up spin kick)
Sons of Samedi
- Sweep Reverse Hurricanrana
- Spinning Handstand
- Mounted Punches
- Stab Through the Jaw (the Katana goes through the bottom of the jaw and winding up in either their forehead, mid face, or into their cranium and out, depending on the face shape)
- Stab Through the Chest (fast) (uppercut-like stab into their stomach or chest)
- Stab Through the Chest (slow) (the same Jyunichi uses to injure Johnny Gat, only shorter)
- Slash Across the Chest then Kick Away
Blocking is achieved by holding the Primary and Second Attack buttons at the same time.
- Unarmed - Arms are held up in front of face and part of the torso and blocks attacks.
- Improvised Weapons - many ambient items are now usable as weapons, can be be used to block.
- Melee Weapons with blocks: Samurai Sword, Machete, Butterfly Knife, Crowbar, Nightstick, Knife, Dual Samurai Swords.
- Melee Weapons without blocks: Shock Paddles, Pepper Spray, Pimp Slap, Sledgehammer, Stun Gun, Baseball Bat, Chainsaw, Detonator, Geiger Counter.
Pistols and SMGs can be used simultaneously in both hands, doubling firepower, but lowering accuracy. Reload times appear to be unaffected by making use of two guns.
- Main article: Human Shield
It is possible to take enemies and allies as Human Shields and move freely. At high notoriety levels, both gangs and police shoot at Playa even with a Human Shield. It is not possible to use dual-wielded weapons while using Human Shield.
Weapons usable with a Human Shield are:
- Melee (Detonator, Geiger Counter and Stun Gun only)
- Assault Rifles (excluding the Mini-Gun)
- Special Weapons
- Thrown Weapons
People can be immediately thrown by tapping the Grab button instead of holding it.
Executions are instant-kill moves, either with or without a gun, perfomed by pressing the Secondary Attack button while holding a Human Shield . When using a firearm or the Stun Gun, Playa fires a single shot directly into the hostage's head. If unarmed, or wielding a thrown weapon, they simply snap their victim's neck.
This can be very useful in the Hitman Activity, where the target is often heavily armed and very tough, but rarely attack on sight. If they can get their target in a human shield, they can often eliminate any guards with ease, then instantly kill their intended victim.
Fine Aim mode allows zooming in to a moderate degree with most weapons; even while dual-wielding weapons or holding a Human Shield. This mechanic is useful to some diversion-based bonuses, such as shooting enemies in the groin or head. It is also required for Mugging.
Saints Row: The Third
In Saints Row: The Third, the gameplay mechanics have been updated and feature different Controls. Human Shield and Fine Aim return but have been updated to a degree that it is possible to grab a Human Shield while Sprinting and, rather than executing victims with the selected gun, players can snap the victim's neck by pressing the Melee button. The Control for Fine Aim has been changed on all systems. In Saints Row: The Third, the McManus 2015 once again has updated Controls for zooming in and out. The fully upgraded AR-55 and the TOGO-13 use the same zooming controls as the McManus 2015.
- Two punches to the abdomen, finishing punch to the face.
- Over the shoulder flip, finishing kick to the back of the head.
- Elbow to the stomach, neck, followed by a finishing head stomp.
- Low sweep kick, four punches, finishing punch to the face.
Players can dodge incoming Brute attacks by performing a quick-time event. Failure to do so results in taking a lot of damage from the Brute's attack; should Playa be grappled and strangled by the brute, they can be released after a quick-time event as Playa pulls out and fires a 45 Shepherd into the Brute's face. Clicking the Melee button performs a Nut Shot on a nearby enemy regardless of the weapon being used. While sprinting, pressing any attack button performs a takedown if a target is nearby. Those takedowns result in the following:
- Shoulder launch, Elbow neck slam.
- Jumping in the air and performing a midair head grab, takedown and pose.
- Jumping on the target's back, sliding on the ground and dismounting.
- Neck grab, and then slamming hostile into the ground.
- Jumping drop kick.
- Rodeo-style takedown.
- "Talk to the hand" takedown.
Blocking attacks like in the previous games is not possible, but thanks to the newly enhanced combat mechanics, players can simply kill any enemy (excluding Brutes) by pulling off a Secondary Attack combo. If done perfectly, a fair amount of Respect can be earned for a 'Beatdown'.
The Fine Aim mechanics have been improved and updated that it is easier to shoot any enemy from an average distance. Accuracy has been improved even while dual-wielding Pistols or SMGs, and upgrading assault rifles slightly results in the appearance of a reticle, making the weapon even more accurate. Hip-fired weapons like the Grave Digger or Bling Shotgun are more accurate when using Fine Aim. This is helpful when trying to perform headshots or nutshots.
Fine Aim cannot be used while throwing grenades.
Saints Row IV
Saints Row IV reuses the same mechanics as Saints Row: The Third.
When using a melee weapon with Super Powers, the result is an incredibly powerful attack that results in the victim being instantaneously killed while flung in the air.
- Saints Row 2 is the only game which features customisable fighting styles.