Game: Saints Row: The Third
Developer: Volition, Inc.
Available on: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, OnLive (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
The Saints Row series of games have always seemed to have a little bit of a rocky time in the hard world of video games, always being compared to other games and never being allowed to be a game in its own right. Saint Row: The Third embraces everything that has ever been said about the franchise and turns it into an advantage. What we’re left with is an over the top, crazy game that’s hilarious from the moment you “Press Start” to the moment the credits roll. On top of all that however, you’re getting a game that promises to be everything that most people hoped it would be.
Is it everything that all the trailers promised that it would be or have the Third Street Saints had their day?
This game is available for a 30 minute demo via OnLive, by clicking the banner below:
STORY: The story of Saints Row: The Third follows on from Saints Row 2, the Third Street Saints have merged with the previously evil Ultor Corporation and created their own little media empire. Energy drinks, clothing lines, bobble heads and even major motion pictures are being developed about our favourite sinners dresses as Saints, but that all changes however when a new group of people, the Syndicate, move into town and give the Saints an offer that they couldn’t do anything except refuse. The Syndicate, after taking all of their money, begin to push the Saints away from their own turf, forcing them to climb their way to the top of the local gang hierarchy all over again. Different town, different people, different gangs, same rules; kill or be killed.
The story is serviceable, it’s a little bit over the top, but that’s what the Saints Row series of games have always been about, taking a storyline that would be seen in just about every other game out there and adding something that you wouldn’t expect. Whether that unexpected element is a tiger in the passenger seat of a convertible or a giant, naked, muscle man, the fact that they’re in the game at all is what makes Saints Row: The Third special; if utterly crazy.
GRAPHICS: The Saints Row: The Third visuals aren’t anything to write home about, they’re serviceable and in some areas of the game are actually quite visually impressive, but in the grand scheme of things Volition haven’t really pushed the boat out. That being said it’s the things that are displayed within the engine that will keep people glued to their screens, things like the fact that you can be driving calmly down the street when you suddenly see a man in a gorilla costume driving the other way. The engine itself isn’t extraordinary but the things that seem to randomly appear within it certainly are.
The one aspect that does look visually stunning however, and never seems to disappoint, is the cut scenes. Whether they’re a couple of seconds long inbetween two set pieces or full minutes in length you can be sure to be entertained and have all of the visuals look fantastic while the story plays out.
SOUND: One thing that most players will notice right from the moment they start the game up is the fact that the acting, by all of the characters, is top notch. Not once will you come across a character that messes up a line of dialogue by not delivering it properly, or having something that’s supposed to be funny fall flat because of the comedic timing being off. The only downside in terms of the voice acting is that there’s a chance that you could miss a plot point due to the fact that you’re laughing at the game, but that’s not a bad thing.
Just as in that other popular open world third person action game, the radio stations are their own little character. Whatever type of music you’re into, it’s catered for here in Saints Row: The Third. Although most players will just want to skip the music and get back to the DJ’s talking, that’s where the hilarity happens. I can’t even count the amount of time I spend just driving, just listening to WDDT CPDG Adult Swim Radio. Classic.
GAMEPLAY: The gameplay in Saints Row: The Third is very much like any other open world third person game you may have played, Grand Theft Auto is the game that comes instantly to mind but the games have been compared to each other so many times over the past couple of years that it’s getting a little bit redundant now. The two games are extremely similar and yet vastly different at the same time. Somebody who picks up Saints Row: The Third for an hour or so will probably think that everything leans more towards the similar end of the scale, but if you spend a little bit longer, a couple of hours or more, you’ll soon realise that the two games are incomparable. Saints Row: The Third has better gun-play mechanics than Grand Theft Auto has ever had, players are able to take hold of any passing person, gang member or pedestrian and use them as a human shield, the actual targeting system doesn’t pander to the player by automatically snapping the reticle to the enemies head. Having said that, the way that the cars handle throughout the game never really feels good enough. Having cars fly around corners without any real sense of realism certainly adds to the fun factor of the game and a lot of people will be looking to Saints Row: The Third for exactly that, but when the gun-play mechanic is as tight and technically well presented as it is here it’s a shame that the driving mechanic isn’t afforded the same technical perfection.
One of the most impressive aspects of Saints Row: The Third is the sheer amount of activities you can do. At one point I had spent 10 hours in the game and only played through about 3 different story missions. The rest of the time I was playing through some of the side missions, driving through the massive city of Steelport or even simply running up to gang members and performing one of the hilarious wrestling moves when they’re least expecting it. In other words I was having fun in one of the most insane games of the year so far.
The only real downside when it comes to the plethora of missions that are available to players is that some of them repeat themselves fairly often. Similarly to how they did in the first Assassin’s Creed game. The game styles themselves are fun and when you’re doing something that isn’t one of the common styles you’ll be treated to some of the most Bruckheimer-esque scenes that have been seen in video games for a while; almost all of them are entertaining, not just explosion filled. Thankfully there are enough of the side missions that most players will just be able to move on to something else if they get bored of Professor Genki’s Super Ethical Reality Climax Show but, to be honest, if there’s somebody who could get bored of that then I don’t want to know them.
LONGEVITY: Saints Row: The Third is a game that you’re going to be coming back to time and time again. You might finish the main story of the game quite quickly if you’re the type of person who just goes from one mission to the next without exploring any of the areas, but don’t think for one second that once the credits roll that you’re anywhere near finishing the game. A lot of people will keep coming back to the game to raise a little bit more money, take over a few more establishments, see if they can get a higher score on a particularly hard side mission or even just to play the whole game all over again as a slightly different character. Whatever you come back for you’re going to have fun; a lot of fun.
VERDICT: Saints Row: The Third is an open world game done right, there’s plenty to do even when you’re not doing the main quest, plenty of places to see and it’s all held together very well by a cast who manage to hit every single comedic beat. All of the parody elements will have people in stitches almost all the way through the game and will ensure that even on second, third and even more playthroughs there’s going to be more to see as players will have no doubt missed a lot of the more subtle ones. If you’re looking for an open world game that’s as crazy as it is ambitious then look no further than Saints Row: The Third. It has its flaws but what game hasn’t, at least you’ll be laughing while they happen.