On Wednesday, Saints Row 3 became free, as a digital download for PS+ subscribers. The title was originally released early 2012 and by the end of the year, it had sold over 4 million copies. It received critical acclaim for around the 85% mark on average and even a few 10/10s! I never played the first, the second bored me quite quickly and it wasn’t until I had the opportunity to play it for free that I eventually attempted The Third. Now I know that this game has been out for ages and no doubt there are many reviews out there, but heres what I think:
So Saints Row: The Third is based in an open world, high crime location named Steelport and with many elements similar to Grand Theft Auto, it becomes a natural rival for the worlds best known sandbox shooter. To be a rival, it has to be just as amazing, but have it own flavour. Volition Inc, creators of the Saints Row series, almost certainly gave it its own special recipe. I have to say that the whole idea of the game could only have started as a joke which ended up being their best idea. The style of humour involved that radiates from the story and the core of the world itself, is quite tongue in cheek, most of the time, and it probably has reduced that tongue to a small stump with The Third. Never have I played a game with so many leather-masked gimps, a guy with a voice box that auto-tunes his words into song, big pink dildo’s for weapons and a car that sucks pedestrians up and fires them out of a cannon. It truly is hilarious.
So the story line is good and it follows the same crime trails as GTA. But to be a rival, it has to play well.
Most of the time, you are driving around, whether it be to get from A to B, to complete missions or simply to cause carnage. Because of this, the element of ‘driving’ should be a fun experience. Well, it isn’t. As with the second game, the cars still feel like they float on air. The tyres don’t seem to react with the road as they should, and don’t even get me started with crashing! The world destruction is on a good scale, unlike GTA, trees also break up whilst driving through them, but their are many bugs involved with street lamps taking a ride with you as you’re trying to escape from a bunch of cops.
So maybe driving isn’t the best thing since sliced bread, but the missions and game content are quite the spectacle. The main story shootouts are complete with explosive material such as RPG’s and drone strikes, you can also fly VTOL warships armed with lasers and choppers armed with rockets. There are also a huge amount of mini-game type challenges you need to complete in order to gain control of the city.
Some of these are as you expect, driving from here to there delivering drugs, protect this person, kill that person, but there are some great unique ones that are actually quite fun to play. My favourite would have to be Professor Genki’s Ethical Challenge, a violent sort of ‘Total Wipeout.’ Within an allotted time you have to run a gauntlet whilst racking up a cash prize. I guess a little like Smash TV on the SNES. You can also find a Tank Massacre activity, Helicopter Assault and Insurance Fraud which of all I quite enjoy.
There is lots to do in this game and it will keep you entertained for hours and to assist you are the large range of weapons that are also upgradeable across 4 tiers. Varieties within each group are Pistols, SMGs, Assault Rifles, Shotguns and Sniper Rifles and bullets aren’t complete without explosives, so accompanied are a choice of grenades, Molotovs, RPG’s, airstrikes, and a Reaper Drone….Lasers, Satchel Charges, a mini-gun and a flamethrower, oh my god, so many weapons. Such a huge range does actually keep the game fresh and exciting and you can only wonder what exactly will come next!
Secretly, I have found myself playing Saints Row 3 a lot, and despite the poor driving, the vast amounts of bugs and some mediocre material that becomes boring as you play, I still can’t figure out why! Maybe it is the humour that has drawn me in, or maybe its just the thought of beating the hell out of someone with a giant pink dildo!
Saints Row: The Third, in a nutshell, is good when its good, but pretty poor when its poor. For me, with the amount of bugs, I find it hard to believe it is a finished product, and the driving really is that bad! The humour behind it and the choice of everything are good pluses, but it just isn’t quite there to be a worthy rival for GTA. As far as I’m concerned, Saints Row will never be that high a caliber. Maybe under new publisher Deep Silver, Volition could create something great, but I wouldn’t count on it as Deep Silver haven’t published many great titles outside of Dead Island. Saints Row isn’t the greatest game Volition have made, and perhaps should put more effort into a new Red Faction, which was pretty revolutionary for its time.