Saints Row: The Third Review (PS3)
- Updated: 6th Jan, 2012
Imagine a world where you can do what you want, when you want and get adored just for existing. As I covered in my hands-on preview at Gamescom 2011, Saints Row: The Third lets you live that fictional life while having fun in the most outrageous way possible.
Your home for the majority of the game is the city of Steelport which is filled with all manner of weapons, vehicles and activities to keep you entertained. From calling in airstrikes, marauding around in a tank, stealing private jets and base jumping off the sides of buildings, the game panders to your every desire. And I had a lot of desires. Heck, I spent the entire game running round as a 6 foot, gold-skinned nude guy with a giant red afro. The insane Professor Genki’s Super Ethical Reality Climax activities also gave me time to indulge my – hitherto deeply repressed – love of murdering people dressed as mascots. In other games this kind of behaviour would be a very bad thing and frowned upon. In the world of Saints Row I got rewarded with lots of money.
To give the game some structure, purpose and funny dialogue there were just under 50 missions available. All of them consisted of doing insane crap with other members of your Saints gang as you collectively battled to destroy the evil forces of the
Decepticons Syndicate. For reasons unknown, the Syndicate employ vast numbers of lingerie-clad hench women. This made some of the street battles resemble a La Senza flashmob gone wrong. Very wrong.
While you can ignore the missions and just explore the city, they are vital in unlocking extra skills and abilities – better health regeneration, dual pistols/SMGs, fire and explosive damage reduction which all help to make your character even more awesome.
Almost all of my stand out moments, both good and bad, took place during the missions. The good moments represent the most fun I’ve had in a videogame. Seriously. For a pilot like me, being able to fly a VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) jet armed with a death ray and homing rockets and shooting up the city is the best thing ever. I even managed to land a light aircraft on the helipad attached to my rooftop penthouse by using the swimming pool as a temporary runway. I challenge you to do the same. (Link/tweet us a more awesome picture than mine if you do).
What’s great is the game encourages you to do stupid stuff like that and never takes itself too seriously. There is none of Grand Theft Auto IV’s dull and dreary take on life. In the world of the Saints being cocky, stinking rich and coloured pink is the way forward. Sure I had to contend with the police and rival gangs if I killed a few too many people but for the most part I was able to do anything I wanted.
The biggest let down and the cause of all my annoyances with the game centred around the exceptionally crap AI. The other Saints are so mind-numbingly stupid that they’d happily sabotage mission objectives on a regular basis; shooting the crap out of a truck that I’m trying to protect for instance. Unfortunately, you can’t carry out missions alone so I was forced to come up with various ways to sideline my partner(s) as much as possible.
The dumb AI plagues every other vehicle driver too. If you thought that GTA IV’s drivers were erratic, the ones in Steelport are easily the worst ever. Cars will inexplicably drive into buildings, other vehicles, burst into flames or try to execute a three point turn with the finesse of a 2 year-old child. This type of behaviour was especially annoying during my many swift escapes from blowing up things like army bases, entire buildings or just driving home after a night watching strippers only to be taken out by an erratic driver.
Playing the game in co-op mode is infinity less annoying, unless of course your mate’s a total dumbass. In this mode everything is exactly the same as single-player but with your mate replacing the stupid AI-controlled character. There really is nothing better than mooching around in the city together, surfing on top of jets (yes, really), destroying buildings and stealing street cleaning vehicles. Co-op absolutely rocks in Saints Row: The Third. The lack of offline split-screen is disappointing but just persuade your friends to buy and game and everything will be fine. Whored mode is also available when you fancy killing wave after wave of enemies using things like a tank or a chainsaw. Unlike its terribly-punned name, you’re not actually besieged by whores here. All sorts of enemies will race up to be shot in the nuts. This did add a bit of fun to something I usually find quite dull to play.
The graphics engine does the game no favours at all being guilty of some awful graphical pop-up and providing a rough and slightly unfinished look to the city. Apart from expanding the colour pallet to include huge amounts of pink, Saints Row: The Third doesn’t look much better than GTA IV and that game’s nearly 4 years old.
But Should You Buy It?
In the end none of the issues really matter. The game is rammed with so much stupid, insane, vulgar, funny and violent content that only a handful of annoying missions during the middle third of the game came close to wiping the giant smile off my face. Volition Inc have focused on removing anything that might get in the way of having fun so you end up doing more of the things that entertain you. If you don’t have fun playing Saints Row: The Third then you must be dead inside. Or a politician.