I have to admit something, and I’m not afraid to say it. I loves me some Saints Row. Scratch that, I loves it. More than Grand Theft Auto (sorry Joaby). When it comes to open world mayhem nobody does it better than Volition. The development team nailed it in Red Faction: Guerrilla and have reminded gamers the world over to stop taking themselves and the industry so seriously and just get out there, blow some **** up and have some god-damned fun.
There’s no hero’s journey here, no outlaw looking for redemption, no troubled gangster trying to find his way out of the “life”. Just a bunch of wild badasses in outlandish outfits and insane vehicles setting fire to the horizon with more explosions than a Michael Bay film set – and I don’t have a single problem with that.
Everything about Saints Row: The Third almost feels like a dare. Like the developers are saying “Oh, you think we upped the ante in the last one? Well get a load of this!” In the opening few hours you will have robbed a Syndicate owned bank (the latest string of wannabes to piss off the Third Street Saints), slaughtered a cadre of guards, fought off waves of SWAT officers, yanked out the vault with a helicopter and ridden shotgun on it, all while raining fire down on pursuing attack choppers.
Then you get kidnapped, taken in a jumbo jet, break free, shoot your way out, dive from the plane in a scene reminiscent of Eraser, swoop through the falling wreckage shooting dozens of henchmen in the process before landing safely in the ‘soon to be under Saints management’ town of Steelport. Saints Row: The Third doesn’t just start with a bang, it starts with a nuke.
The formula for the franchise’s success is simple. Never show restraint. Forget subtle sexual overtones, how about a firefight in a bordello packed to the rim with phallic shaped decorations, fisting machines and gimp masked employees? No joke. Just try not to piss yourself in the heat of battle with that as your arena. The piece de resistance were the ceiling fans in each room with gigantic dildos for blades. Yep, it’s all just a little wigged out and crazytown over in Steelport.
The basic mission structure follows the same path as previous incarnations. It’s all about respect and just about anything earns it. Steal a car (with classic Dukes of Hazzard entry via front or side window – yee haw) and put the hammer down for easy earns. Driving into oncoming traffic, power slides and jumps get your levels on the rise. Ditto for hitting the streets with some funky fresh new threads, pimping out your ride or buying a new crib. Or you could just let the other major players know you’re in town by trashing their operations.
Alternatively you could amuse yourself with the dozens of activities, like Tank Mayhem where the goal is to make everything go big ba-da-boom. Or there's Guardian Angel where you repel down a the side of a building with a sniper rifle to protect your homies from incoming enemies before catching a ride in a chopper running rocket launcher armed support with extreme prejudice - and then there’s Professor Genki’s Super Reality Climax.
This ridiculous send up of wacky Japanese game shows has contestants testing their mettle against armed furry costume clad participants as they negotiate through a maze of death complete with fire and electro-shock walls. The goal is to take down anything with a pulse - plus special pop up targets for maximum points. It’s funnier than a kick to the nads and substantially less painful.
You’ll come up against three soon to be wiped out gangs. The Morningstar, run by Belgian Phillipe Loren, The Luchadores - a tribute to Mexican wrestling fronted by Killbane - and the cyber-savvy Deckers lead by poncy Matt Millar. When things escalate in the second act, the government calls in STAG (Special Tactical Anti Gang units) and Volition takes it to a whole new level.
Gone are projectile based death dealers and it’s all pew-pew laser guns, VTOL aircraft and hoverbikes as you destroy juggernaut battleships and monolithic aircraft carriers. If that wasn’t enough you can upload into cyberspace to wail on the Deckers, hold off scores of Luchadores with a chainsaw at a wrestling match, battle a zombie outbreak and even Red Faction gets a nod with a movie set inspired jaunt. The gloves are off and nothing, NOTHING is off limits in Saints Row: The Third - and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
One of the biggest changes to gameplay is the introduction of an upgradeable arsenal. Double barrelled shotguns just don’t do the job these days. How about a triple barrel with incendiary shells? Or maybe an underslung grenade launcher is the perfecto addition to your LMG, as are armour piercing rounds for your pistol. Hey about some how about dual wielding? You got it, and then there’s the big guns.
These are the Cubans, baby. This is the Cohibas, the Montecristos. I’m talking about a choice between an airstrike and a controllable predator drone. Both are capable of reducing the population of any gang foolish enough to get in its path to zero. The collateral damage is off the charts and it is the ultimate in urban pacification. Or if you want a laugh, grab a shock hammer from a downed Decker and watch anything in the vicinity (cars, people whatever) fly.
Volition has crafted a uniquely insane and highly addictive experience with Saints Row: The Third, but it does have some niggling inconsistencies which keep it from the realm of greatness. Occasionally at highest notoriety levels, vehicles and enemies glitch out becoming a hazard necessary to be avoided, and the AI can be particularly cheap - almost bending bullets through cover at times - with pursuit vehicles sporadically popping in during chase sequences in the later stages of the game. Not enough to frustrate or lose immersion, but annoying none-the-less.
With the industry taking itself more and more seriously, Volition thumbs its nose at convention and gives you one hell of a ride. Expect that to escalate once you grab a buddy and hit co-op - just take my advice and keep friendly fire off, even if you’re a masochist. A wise man once said 'You never go full retard.' Volition comes dangerously close to going full retard with Saints Row: The Third - but they rein it in and how can you possibly not love the end result?
I tried my best to avoid watching any SR3 trailers and I'm glad I did!
SR3 is a fantastic compliment to SR2 and delivers on all fronts.
Volition has turned their amps to 11, everything is open for punishment.
The plot is in full sillyness, from the big bang opening to the mission that follows. How about we stock up on ammo... oh wait, we're out of cash... Let's rob the armory!
It's a shame the game has been overshadowed by other releases. It's a fantastic, open world game. Lots to do, lots to chuckle at, you'll enjoy every second!
If you haven't played SR2 it's no big deal, you can easily jump into SR3 effortlessly.
Everything that makes a good Third Saints/GTA game is here
The world though map wise is small is very big on the ground level, there's heaps to do and alot of routes to get to places
The game makes fun of itself in this version, instead of just being the bad guys you are now multimedia stars aswell so people want to get autographs along the way etc. makes for entertaining encounters.
The amount of vehicles, weapons and areas to take over is the biggest of the series, and if you buy the DLC pack you get additional access to cheats, secret weapons and clothing, plus any future DLC
My only real gripes are the lack of money that drops and the inability to customize your crib like you could in SR2, least i haven't found a way. So when you enter your crib it's nothing but a place to get red of infamy, you can't interact with anything. The UI is a little clunky too, trying to say answer the phone and the menu pops up or trying to open a door and the crib menu pops up instead and lastly some hit detection is off when trying to open things.
and lastly when attacking mobs HQ's they seem to endlessly respawn with no way of telling how many to you have left to take over the joint
Ultimately though the game is a blast so far, starts off with a huge 007 style action sequence and goes from there with relatively quick quests.