If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Rockstar North, the developer of the Grand Theft Auto series, should be very, very flattered by Saints Row. After all, developer Volition's take on an open-ended criminal action game is almost criminally similar to GTA on first impression. Like GTA, Saints Row offers much the same combination of driving and shooting action; it's set in a fictitious, modern American city; it lets you run or drive pretty much wherever you want to right from the start; it's got a ton of licensed music on the soundtrack; and it's got a sense of humor that ranges from dirty to dark. But this superficial lack of originality only hurts the game at first glance, if at all. As outstanding as the GTA games are, you'll find that Saints Row is similarly enjoyable in many important respects--and even better in a couple of key ways. That is, like GTA, Saints Row finds its own careful balance between realism and fun. It's an exciting, dynamic experience that's frequently rewarding and rarely frustrating and can keep you coming back hour after shameless hour, as you cause mayhem throughout the rather large, detailed city of Stilwater. What's more, a surprisingly entertaining storyline and a number of smartly designed gameplay features make Saints Row a memorable game in its own right.