Saints Row The Third Review - The Old School Game Vault
The Saints Row series has always been about being absolutely crazy. Starting from humble beginnings as “just another Grant Theft Auto Clone”, the first Saints Row was released on the Xbox 360 back in 2006.
Since then, each iteration of the franchise has always found a way to top itself in terms of sheer insanity. From characters that are absurd, stereotypical caricatures of gang members to over-the-top mission objectives and silly weapons (including sex-toy bats!), Saints Row’s emphasis on humor has helped it garner a huge following. In the third and most recent iteration of the series, Saints Row: The Third, developer Volition continues to build upon their previous success and make a game that’s bigger, better, and even more fun than ever before.
Released on November 15, 2011, simultaneously on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC, Saints Row The Third is a direct sequel to Saints Row 2. You play as the leader of the Third Street Saints, a gang which has reached levels of success previously unheard of for organized crime at the national level, due to your exploits in the previous games. This means that the Saints have become a huge, mega-national media powerhouse, all while still dabbling in organized crime on the side. This level of success, however, attracts numerous unwanted attention as other, more powerful crime syndicates decide that they want in on the action as well. This sets up a surprisingly deep story of revenge, sabotage, and recovery as the Saints work to muster up enough power to reclaim their former glory.
Of course, the story wouldn’t matter if it didn’t have fun, engaging gameplay to go along with it. Fortunately, Volition delivers on this front by creating a huge, open world sandbox game filled with things to do. There are literally dozens of shops to visit, items to purchase, and side-missions to complete. In addition to this (and on top of a solid driving and shooting mechanics) Volition has developed an addicting, fun, and unique upgrade system for all aspects of the game. By utilizing the in-game currency system, players can purchase a huge number of upgrades. Everything in the world is customizable--your avatar, your car, your weapons, and so forth. Getting bored playing as a British hooligan? Get a sex change and play through the rest of the game as a sultry Russian cheerleader. Every car you own is customizable and upgradable, ranging from simple cosmetic changes to changing the engine properties to boost acceleration and speed. At the same time, weapon upgrades range from increasing ammo capacity to actually providing elemental properties, such as bullets that set targets on fire and bullets that pierce armor and explode on impact. This upgrade/customization system adds another layer to the already fun gameplay, making you feel like you’re really progressing in the game world, both in terms of abilities and appearances.
Another strength of this game is the sharp, witty dialogue. Simply put, this game is funny. It’s just a total blast to listen to characters talk--both to each other and to you as a player, thanks in part to their ridiculous nature. An old pimp who speaks only in auto-tune? An actor who’s willing to rob and murder so that he can get into his character? A hulking, Russian science experiment who also happens to be a genius? To make matters even better, the game is expertly cast by a wide array of voice actors whose mere participation adds to the ridiculous amounts of fun this game already has. Honestly, who wouldn’t want to play a game in which Sasha Grey, Hulk Hogan, and even Burt Reynolds can be your “homies”?! The cast of the game is rich, diverse, and, most importantly, hilarious.
Dislikes or Improvements:
That said, the game isn’t without its faults. Side missions in particular feel a little shallow and loose their sheen after the first couple of times that you try it, but the game is filled with so much other content that this isn’t that big of an issue. Also, as with any open world game, there are a number of glitches and bugs that might leave players scratching their head. There are times, for instance, when cars will sink partially into city streets, computer-controlled allies will leap to their death off buildings, and mission triggers will go off randomly, meaning that you might sometimes accidentally complete a mission just by getting into a car while on the way to the mission. However, none of these bugs are a huge detriment to the overall gameplay, and the fact that the game is so silly might mean that the bugs might even contribute to one’s enjoyment of the game.
Overall, Saints Row: The Third is Volition’s most ambitious title to date, and they succeed on all fronts. For a series that has never taken itself too seriously, arguably to the point where it was detrimental to the success of the franchise, Saints Row: The Third delivers an extremely high quality game that’s still just mindless, stupid fun.