When I think about writing a review for Saint’s Row: The Third, the first thing that pops into my head is what the back of the game box would say. You know, those really awful descriptions of DVDs where they give really bland descriptions, with a ton of adjectives for no reason? ”The Saint’s are back, and badder than ever! Jump into the new, out-of-control city of Steelport for some of the craziest, wackiest, most ridiculous adventures yet!” I hate them, and won’t be pushing any of it onto you. That out of the way, let’s get started.
Saint’s Row: The Third (from here on out, to be known as “SR3″) is the latest Saint’s Row game from series developer Volition, Inc. It is published by THQ, and is one of their largest money-makers at this time. It is available on the PC, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360 (which is what I played it on.) Here in the U.S., it is rated M for Mature for… well, a lot of reasons including: Blood and Gore, Drug References, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Content (why would they list that, if they already have partial nudity?) and Strong Language… in which there is a lot of.
For those of you new to the series, Saint’s Row made its name as being one of the first successful “Grand Theft Auto clones.” Before that, us gamers had garbage like True Crime, and The Getaway to deal with when we were done with GTA. Saint’s Row copied the GTA formula of an open living world, missions you can select, extra side-activities, and lots of mayhem… and they did it well. At first (SR1,) it was like having an extra GTA game to play before the next one was released. After GTA wen’t into a new direction with GTA4 (more serious themes, less over-the-top destruction,) Saint’s Row 2 was released with the spirit of GTA: San Andreas, but to the next level. Crazier missions, more sex and violence, and the addition of 2-player co-op available on everything was a welcome change. SR3 keeps that theme going, you just now have a new playground to play is, as gamers were getting a little tired of playing in Stillwater for 2 games.
And here is where more of the GTA/Saint’s Row 1-2 references will come into play. Saint’s Row did it right in SR1 and SR2, and they kept it going in SR3. The “sandbox” style gameplay is still there. The character creation part of the game is still there. Actually, I prefer this to the GTA style of them designing the character you play as. In Saint’s Row, you create the skin for the character, and it updates through the game in all cut scenes with all of your clothing/tattoos/the works. And fans of Saint’s Row 2, be happy knowing the British-guy voice is back as well… good times.
You have a large variety of vehicles to “acquire” and customize as you see fit, and keep them stored in your garage for retrieval whenever you want. You can visit a “crib” and grab a car when you want, or as you progress through the game, you can just call a homey to deliver them right to you wherever you are.
Visually, the game is on par as it was in Saint’s Row 2. The game still goes for a semi-cartoonish look, which always has been its style, and it works for it. You won’t be seeing a Gears of War level detail in the game, but it isn’t really missed either as the gameplay is what makes Saint’s Row so good. Steelport, the new city you are in, is a about the same size as Stillwater was, just with a different layout. And, of course, there are again, 3 new gangs you will need to get rid of to take over the place. Two of the gangs, the Deckers (hackers) and the Luchadores (you should know what they are) have missions themed around them as well. You will be participating in wrestling matches, and going into the computer in a Virtual Reality/TRON type of mission when taking them on. Both are really great missions.
Musically, the SR series has always been great. Like a GTA game, the radio is always full of great songs to listen to… when it isn’t being drowned out by all of the gunfire. If you are a music fan, and want to know what you will be in for, Destructoid has an article up with a full radio/track listing if you are interested. Aside from that, you get the awesome title theme, that kinda gets you in the mood to go kill things…
Along with the killing sprees, heists, car-jacking, and blowing massive amount of things up, SR3 also gives you a TON of side-activities to do. The side activities and diversions from SR1 and SR2: Assault, Insurance Fraud, Assassination, Trail Blazing, Snatch, etc.. have returned. SR3 also brings in a few new ones to play with. With these, you get: Guardian Angel (sniping,) Tank Mayhem (as it sounds,) and Professor Genki’s Super Ethical Reality Climax (think a gameshow where you run room to room killing people to extend your time and reach the ending… tons of games have activities like this.) And as I said earlier, the game can be played completely in 2 player co-op, so you can have fun with a friend as well. Aside from the single/cop-op mode, there is also a “Whored Mode” where… as with “Horde Mode” you will be taking on wave after wave of enemies.
And if the above reasons aren’t enough to want to play it, the game also has Burt Reynolds in it. That should be “sold” right there.
Unfortunately, the game has a few problems. But, depending how you want to take this review, these would be just my opinion, and might be perfectly OK with you. If that is the case, then you really don’t have that much to worry about with SR3.
I would like to complain that as it is the third game in the series, I would think they would improve the graphics a little more, but as I said earlier, it doesn’t really bother me.
SR3 is a game that suffers from what I’m referring to now as “L.A. Noire syndrome.” Players of L.A. Noire will know what I mean when I say this. When you are playing through the game, and you select a mission, you will then have to travel somewhere to pick up someone/meet at a location/etc… That location, most of the missions, are WAY across town. Unless you have a jet delivered to you, you are guaranteed a few minutes drive to get there. The missions seem to be all structured like this, and… it gets kind of annoying after a while.
Another gripe I had with the game, is the new upgrade system that was put into SR3. Back in SR1 and SR2, you would do the side activities/diversions for a few reasons… you would get money, you would get respect (the game’s leveling system… basically respect = XP,) and after completing a specific level of an activity, you would get an unlock in the game: infinite sprint, infinite ammo, less damage, etc… In SR3, they got rid of that, and now the activites/diversions get you money, in which you buy upgrades for yourself. The activities/diversions don’t really pay that well, and a lot of the upgrades cost a lot of money. Basically, I got tired of doing side-missions, forgot about the upgrades, and just powered through and beat the game without them. For me, it was an unnecessary change that they made.
Lastly, the story really wasn’t that great. In SR1 and SR2, you were gaining power, and defending it from your enemies. The bad guys in the first two games, were assholes, and you wanted to punish them. In SR3, you are at the height of your power, someone puts you down, and you need to show you are still the top gang in town. Basically, this game is the Rocky III of the series. I’m curious to know if Saint’s Row IV will involve some Russian mafia called the “Dragos” or something like that. Either way, 2 of the 3 gangs you come across had some fun missions, there just wasn’t enough story going on where I really cared why I was doing what I was doing.
All in all, SR3 does what it advertises. It brings crazy over-the-top action and a ton of humor. Saint’s Row has solidified its place as “GTA’s crazy cousin” and has a large following because of the way it proves this game after game.
Nerd Junkies Review – 8/10
-Tons of crazy action, and lots of laughs
-The revamped upgrade system wasn’t needed, and the story could have used some help.