Review: Saints Row the Third Stands out on It’s Own
Since the release of the original Saints Row in 2006, Volition has come full circle with the release of Saints Row the Third, the latest entry in open world sandbox games. The Story of SRT3 begins in Stillwater, where the 3rd Street Saints have gone from gangsters to mass media celebrities complete with their own energy drink, and even a movie deal. Their latest heist to rob a bank with actor Josh Birk goes horribly wrong. The Saints find themselves fighting off the Stillwater PD which engages in a completely off the chain battle with the Saints as the protagonist (nicknamed Boss), tries to high jack the bank’s vault with a helicopter.
The Boss along with series mainstay Johnny Gat and new comer Shaundi (SR2), are released from jail to the care of The Syndicate. Aboard the Syndicate Jet, the Boss is introduced to Syndicate leader Phillipe Lauren, and his sexy assistants the DeWinter sisters. Lauren wants 66% of the assets in exchange for their lives, which really causes the $h!t to hit the fan. What gamers are treated to is a sequence of more over the top action as Boss and Shaundi have to get out of the plane and make it safely with Johnny watching their backs. It’s pretty insane to say the least, and fits perfectly with the crazy nature of the Saints Row Universe.
When the Saints make it to the ground, they find that The Syndicate has drained their finances and run them out of Stilwater. However, unlike most games where the player starts out with nothing, you still have access to your men and some weapons, plus a whole lot of determination to make the Syndicate pay!
With that out of the way, let me tell you about what really sells the game for me.
SRT3 doesn’t try to take itself too seriously. It maintains a fun atmosphere, while still somewhat serious at times. There are moments when you just have to shake your head and say out loud “did they really do that?” Just wait until you have to rescue the auto-tuning pimp Zimos. It’s an instant Saints Row classic! On top of this game not taking itself seriously I would like to cover some of the other pros of playing Saints Row 3.
Pimping ain’t easy…
Saints Row has been all about making the main character yours, and it gives you the ability to make that character who you want him or her to be just like the popular WWE video games. From subtle tweaks in the facial features and body type, to a variety of clothes; or no clothes at all, the character is who you want him/her to be. They could have added more voices in the game, or the ability to change the pitch and tone like the Soul Calibur offerings, but this is a minor gripe. The Character customization features are second to none, and this shows that the creators know what gamers want.
The gunplay is easy to pick up
Using guns in the game is as simple as it was in the previous two titles, because the control scheme hasn’t really changed much since SR2. You’ll want to upgrade your guns, not just because of the increase in damage, but because some guns have different effects when they are maxed out.
Melee combat is simple
The standard melee combat is a blast to use, and really it’s completely optional. You very well may not need to melee someone, but when you do, there are plenty of varied moves that you’ll ending up doing, from testicular assault to body surfing.
There are plenty of traditional gangland weapons in this game, but let’s remember that this is a Saints Row title, so there’s more than just guns available early on in the game. For example, you can use a Predator Drone that fires missiles from the sky. There’s nothing like raining down missiles on your enemies. I mean sure there’s guns and SMG’s, but it’s the other weapons that set SRT3 apart. Wait until you get a hold of The Penetrator. You’ll never look at baseball the same.
Are those fireworks?
Vehicles are plentiful in Saints Row 3, and they control like a dream. From Cars, Motorcycles, Boats, Helicopters, Tanks, and Jets, gamers will always have a choice in how they choose to travel this open world game. Each one handles just right, and most of them can be upgraded with performance and visual mods that really can express your own taste. For the first time in the series, you can buy name brand rims from Lexani to add on to your vehicular masterpiece! BAM!
The enemies which consist of the Morning Star, The Deckers, the Lucahdores, and the Steelport Cops are hard as he*l! They come after you with a serious hard-on to put a bullet in your eyes, and they keep coming with reckless abandoned. Each enemy type has it’s own flair with the Deckers being cyberpunk, and the Luchadores resemble well… Luchadores from Lucha Libre. Piss them off, and they are gunning for you, and no matter how hard and fast you run they’ll find you just like Antoine Dodson told us they would in his viral video (greatest auto-tune of all-time btw). If you think you can just run them over, they have something for that too. Wait till’ the Special Tactical Anti Gang goons show up!
Respect is hard earned but worth the effort. Respect is used to unlock features that you can buy with the cash giving you greater bullet resistance, or upgrading your gang. The more respect you have, the more you can do, and the more chaos you can unleash on Steelport. Grinding to get respect through missions is the typical way, but causing chaos or completing objectives such as driving down oncoming traffic will also net you respect.
The side missions that you are used to are back, with some new additions. The old favorites such as Insurance Fraud and Mayhem are back, but there are a few new ones. Ever tried to dodge paparazzi while driving an angry tiger who takes swipes at you? Yeah…it’s in there. The side missions are fun, and take you away from the story, but are a great way to get cash and respect.
The music in the SR series has always been kind of hit or miss compared to the notable offering of another..ahem… series, and that hasn’t changed here. There are several music stations available once you get into a vehicle. Unlike SR2, all the music is unlocked. Volition did add a feature that allows you to create your own mix tape from music available to you. All in all a few more popular tracks would be a nice touch, but you aren’t playing this game for the tunes now are you?
From the voice acting to the sounds of chaos, bullets and explosions, THQ and Volition have pulled out all the stops. Daniel Dae-Kim returns as Johnny Gat, but he isn’t the only celebrity to grace Steelport. Hulk Hogan, Sasha Grey, Rob Van Dam and Burt Reynolds also make an appearance providing quality voice acting to the line-up. As for sounds, SRT3 isn’t skimpy in that area either. The world of SRT3 is rich with noise and ambiance. The cars all sound different, even variations of the same vehicle will have different acceleration sounds. Guns will change based on the model and upgrades. The sounds just help sell the overall total package, and helps immerse yourself in the game experience.
The graphics in SRT3 have improved but not by much, and this isn’t a bad thing. The skyline is beautiful at night, but to be honest SRT3 just doesn’t compare to …other games… when it comes to graphics. The city is large with a noticeably futuristic skyline, but nothing overwhelming. The graphics in short are exactly what I would expect from the newest version of the series. I will say that the animation quality has improved a lot for my taste, but they’re not mind blowing by any means.
I do miss the ability to travel inside more places. The mall area from SR2 was a favorite, but as I said this is just a minor issue. Difficulty can be overwhelming at times, especially early on, but the game is moderately forgiving. There are no health items, but instead your health regenerates over time. No biggie.
Game Modes A Plenty
STR3 offers a new spin on Horde Mode affectionately called “Whored Mode” where you have to defeat waves of enemies with different weapons. Each new wave offers a different spin, from gunning down mascots to engaging in midget zombies. Yes…midget zombies or do you prefer undead little persons? Whored Mode is also a great way to get into the game play mechanics. The other offering is a co-op story mode (online not local :( ). In this mode you and a friend can play together completing the story missions or just going around and causing mayhem to bring Steelport to it’s knees. A great way to spend time with a friend indeed!
If there was a word to describe Saints Row the Third it would be fun. From sky diving off your newest headquarters into a base jump, to car surfing, to just randomly hitting citizens in the balls, Saints Row the Third is meant to be fun, and that is something that a lot of games have forgotten. They want you to do whatever you want. If you want to put off a story mission to do some side missions, go right ahead. They don’t care as long as you play the game. The game drives you in a way that you could spend hours playing side missions to build up cash, but continue to have to do story missions to build up respect. It’s all set up in a way that allows you to maximize the fun factor. Did I mention Professor Genki? lol!
Overall I think very highly of the game, and not just because I am a fan of the series. I appreciate the amount of thought that went into the games multiple aspects. You can tell that Volition didn’t just sit back and make a new game in a different setting. Everything has a new feel about it, and even the story goes in a different direction with the introduction of more fantastic elements that were never in the first two entries. Saints Row the Third doesn’t feel like a copy of another game. It sets itself apart as a contender in the crowded sandbox genre, and that is a breath of fresh air…or as fresh as it could get from a former industrial city like Steelport.
I give Saints Row the Third my highest grading… five zombie skulls out of five.
This post was written by Kenan Brack (Screenwriter, Author, Director, Photographer). You can check out some of his other work by following these links: In Case Of Hope’s FB Page, Eiko: Novelization By Kenan Brack, Eiko’s Facebook.
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