Saints Row The Third – Review
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
The Saints are back, and boy, are they pissed! Having reached superstar status and formed their own media empire, the 3rd Street Saints are enjoying a life of luxury, fame and crime as the unopposed gang of Stilwater. After botching their latest bank heist attempt, the Saints find themselves being bailed out of jail by one Phillipe Loren, Chairman of the crime organization known as the Syndicate. Loren gives them the option of falling in as part of the Syndicate, with two thirds of their earnings going to the organization, or death.
Not one to take things lying down, you and your crew break free of your bonds and manage to escape from Loren’s private jet, but not before your right-hand man, Johnny Gat, is killed. Now on the streets, broke (thanks to the Syndicate freezing your accounts), and with a thirst for revenge, you and the Saints must work your way back up the gangland food chain, take back your territory and destroy the Syndicate for good.
Saints Row: The Third is a third-person action shooter with a little bit of everything added to it. Sporting an open-world, sprawling metropolis that is Stilwater, this is a game you could say is reminiscent of Grand Theft Auto; but by comparison, GTA is a docile, newborn puppy compared to this third installment of the Saints franchise. Everything about Saints Row is over the top, from its characters (a horse-playing pimp with an auto-tuning trachea-box), missions (picking up hookers and their johns) and locales (BDSM clubs), to the weapons (The Penetrator… think about it). Saints Row: The Third is a game where being bad is a good thing, and being bad to the extreme wins you fame, fortune and plenty of hoes. While you would think this would be a mortifying game not worth mentioning, the simple fact is that it’s entertaining as hell!
Throughout the game, you are assigned missions, which move the storyline along, detailing the Saints’ rise back to the top of the food chain. These missions range from rescuing prostitutes from rival gangs’ pimps to work for your own pimp (a fine gentleman named Zimos), to committing insurance fraud, taking out rival gang hideouts and more. Completing missions earns you cash, allows you to claim territory and unlocks activities around the city to take even more territory and earn even more cash. The activities performed in these missions will also be unlocked as Activities on the world map for you to gain more cash and respect points which will be discussed later on.
Much like GTA, the game reacts to how you behave, so if you behave badly, you gain notoriety (similar to the star system in Grand Theft Auto). As your infamy rises (denoted by the purple neon stars in the lower-left corner), you’ll encounter increasingly difficult waves of enemies (or law enforcement). You can very quickly find yourself tearing through the streets of Stilwater with swarms of Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) and attack helicopters hot on your trail. The only way to get them off your back is to reduce your notoriety by either eluding them or entering one of the establishments around the city that you own.
You also earn respect in the game by completing the aforementioned Activities, which earn you both cash and respect, and Diversions (such as streaking, base-jumping, or stealing cars), which only earn you respect. Gaining respect is important, as it unlocks skills for you to upgrade in the game, such as regenerating health quicker or decreasing reload time.
Saints Row: The Third is a marvel to look at. Textures and models are beautifully rendered and load times moving from one environment to the next are minimal. Animations are well done, and the only glitching that I’ve noticed are in environments with small objects, like chairs, on the floor. The best example of this was in one of the strip club scenes where I was continuously getting hung up on the seats surrounding the dancers’ runway. It was a very frustrating area to make my way through, especially as some of the game’s more powerful enemies came pouring in, taking me down while I’m looking like a buffoon trying to jump,run, or do anything to get off of the stupid chairs. There’s also a notable frame-rate drop when the action picks up and more enemies begin to show up in the area. This seems to happen more in confined spaces (such as the inner city) than open areas (suburbs), but it’s noteworthy nonetheless.
One thing that Volition did with Saints is craft some beautiful cars. It’s apparent that THQ and Volition weren’t able to, or didn’t bother to, acquire licensing for name-brand vehicle models to be used in the game. However, the cars that are featured are creative, beautiful and fun to modify. Every car can be enhanced physically or technically, allowing you to create a one-of-a-kind vehicle with some performance to boot.
Character modeling is similarly customizable, allowing you to change just about every feature of your in-game persona, from facial features to muscle tone. A somewhat amusing customization is the Attractiveness function, which doesn’t change your skin or natural glow, but rather the size of your breasts if you’re playing as a female character, or the size of your package if you select a male. The higher the attractiveness rating, the bigger your assets.
Once you get your customization on, the next thing you’ll notice is the absolutely phenomenal soundtrack. Each radio station you dial in to while driving (or flying) features a wide variety of music, ranging from today’s hits from artists like Kanye West, to 90s grunge bands like Bush, and even a little classical. At one point I heard the Aqua Teen Hunger Force theme, which not only had me laughing, but fit the game remarkably well.
Saints Row: The Third also includes a multiplayer component called Whored Mode. Much like other similarly-named game-types of this genre; the objective is to survive increasingly difficult waves of enemies as they swarm in to kill you. There are 30 waves in total, each with its own unique objective such as killing armed prostitutes with The Penetrator, a large, purple “toy.”
Saints Row is most definitely not a game for small children, or big children, many adults and most definitely not for those with heart conditions. However, for those of you who can appreciate a crude sense of humor and over-the-top Activities, this game has it in spades. Great one-liners, a fantastic story, and beautiful graphics make this a game that should be in any enthusiast’s collection. Also, if you’re a GTA fan, you will definitely want to pick this up while waiting for Grand Theft Auto V to hit the market. In Saints Row: The Third, it really does feel good to be bad.
Saints Row: The Third picks up a 4.5/5.0.
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