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Saints Row: The Third

By JcDent09-08-2013
NeonAnderson (editor)
StuntmanLT (editor)
Saints Row: The Third

The Defence

Volition Inc.
Shooter, Action
Release Date:
US 15-11-2011
EU 18-11-2011

The Prosecution

Intel Core 2 Quad 3.0 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce GTX 460
AMD Radeon HD5850
4 GB
10 GB
9.0c, 10, 11

The Case


It was the Grand Theft Auto series that started whacky driving sandbox games, it is the Saints Row series that carries that torch. Why? Because with GTA IV the series lost its fun. While SR happily accepts the huddled masses under its violet wing, is it not losing its own heart? That is the question posed by Saints Row: The Third.

The Trial


By the end of Saints Row 2, the Third Street Saints had wiped out all competing criminal organizations in Stillwater and taken over the Ultor corporation. Merging gangbanging and corporate assets led to the Saints becoming worldwide celebrities, with whacky Japanese commercials, chains of clothing stores, TV shows and much more. When a routine bank robbery (yes, even robbing banks can get stale when you’re a Saint) goes awry, the leadership of the Saints are captured by the Syndicate, a multinational crime organization. It’s lead by Philipe Lauren, who offers the detained gangsters to cooperate with the Syndicate, taking two thirds of the profits. Now, the Saints aren’t a bunch of the most stable individuals in the first place, so it all ends in an airplane shoot out. That results in the Boss (the player character) and Shaundi (who in SR2 was mainly known for using drugs and having slept with nearly everyone) being stranded in Steelport and hungry for blood. Let the hijinks, tomfoolery and wanton murder of innocents begin!

Hey, wait for me!

Hey, wait for me!

And this is the part when I deleted some of the review and started over. You see, writing about SR3 is one of the hardest tasks I’ve got as a game reviewer. While playing EYE was painful, at least I knew what I was going to write, there was no internal conflict. I knew that anyone praising it was wrong. SR3 is another thing altogether. It had the most promising trailers of any game that year and probably some of the most awesome trailers in gaming history. But the game itself, while it had the parts promised, the developers failed to connect them into a pleasurable experience.

To me the humor just doesn’t cut it anymore and the game seems to be lacking in cutscenes. The jokes are over the top, but they lack the somewhat serious delivery or subtext of SR2. I don’t recall the Boss and Johnny Gat saying “hey, we’re killing bums in the sewer to clean up the place for our base, ain’t that whacky”. They were carrying conversations, business as usual, while resting their feet on stacks of corpses. Now...the magic’s gone. When you’re blowing up tanks and attack choppers on the third mission, it begins to feel tiring, not “wow, are we really doing this?”.

While I’m harping on about the bad things, let me mention the changes to the upgrade system. Previously you had to work your ass off to get character or gun upgrades. This gave a sense of achievement and an incentive to do activities and other violent shenanigans. Now such things as damage reduction, ability to double wield guns and stronger gang members are bought with money. And funds are automatically generated by the properties you own. Way to undermine any drive to muck around on an ATV while wearing a flaming asbestos suit.



Other than that, this game is bearable. The sandbox game mechanics won’t give anything new to those who have played other sandbox games, even less so for SR2 players. Though driving, as always, will take some time getting used to – vehicle physics never were the series’ strongest feature. Gunplay is generally fun and rewarding, especially for those who go for the headshots. There’s something about SR that makes headshots extremely easy yet satisfying to pull off.

Especially since this game has fewer guns. But that doesn’t matter – as long as you upgrade the basic pistol – an XXL sized hunk of angry metal – you shall not lack in killing power. In all seriousness, it’s probably the best gun in the game – an accurate, slow firing machine of death. Only the final rifle was able to overtake it and only because it doesn’t actually shoot bullets. Most of the time the pistols (especially when used akimbo) will satisfy all your killing needs, from close quarters to headshotting helicopter mounted snipers. Shotguns have the same reach as spitting, while SMGs can spray a lot of rounds that wouldn’t scare a tuberculosis ridden Victorian orphan. Assault rifles are the only real competition to the pistols. Only larger targets require heavy weapons and that’s not very often. Though when that happens you won’t hesitate to use them because there are more gun shops than fast food joints (and I’m not aware of any of those since regenerating health made food obsolete) and ammo costs a dime a dozen, even the UAV missiles are cheap. You have four types of grenades, though this player only found the run-of-the-mill frags useful.

Vehicles are another thing altogether. While driving and physics tend to be a little iffy (you can ram through almost any wheeled obstacle). There are a whole lot of them, yet not one of them really stands out as the most pleasurable to drive. If you just avoid the slow ones - you’ll be ok. Motorbikes are a lot of fun, especially the more futuristic looking ones. At any rate, almost all cars can be modified in various garages all over the city. While this won’t add machine guns on top (it’s one of the reasons why I don’t drive in real life), both its survivability and swag can be improved considerably and it all costs pennies. Increases in speed, structural integrity and ram capability sometimes results in vehicles that, when going really fast, can instagib other wheeled buckets. This is certainly more fun than the quite often “driver flies out through the front window”. The level of exterior pimping varies from car to car (or from motorcycle to motorcycle, which is awesome – ever tried putting neon lights under one of those?), but you can achieve some very pleasant results. Heck, choosing the color of any part is probably more varied than the whole tuning thing in, say, GTA: San Andreas. Best of all, any car that you try to spruce up a bit is automatically saved in your garage, from which it can be retrieved even if it was destroyed. Quite the improvement over other games like GTA. A pity that you can’t modify aircraft as some of those come in less than optimal paint schemes.

She couldn’t take it.

She couldn’t take it.

The character customization has suffered somewhat in the way of clothing, but it still has more options than a spoiled rich 16 year old could ever imagine. After you select your physical build and features (which can be completely rebuilt later, for the meager sum of 400$), you can mix and match clothing and tattoo options till you drop from exhaustion. Being naked not only lets you ogle your pixel blurred naughty bits, but also engage in the Streaking distraction. And while I’ll grace this article with screenshots, I flat out refuse to do “lol, fat guy naked/in lady clothes” when there are so many cooler options. You can dress as a plain, every day citizen or – if you’re not boring – a red cop, a space man, gimp or even a Neo look-alike. The choice is yours and the clothing costs a dime a dozen.

Yes, it’s the visual part of the game that stands out. While Steelport is not a city you will remember forever, it has its moments (like a red lantern district under a freeway ramp). The really nice thing is the permanent damage to the city that some missions make (like putting a plane crash in the middle of a neighbourhood). The bases are definitely less impressive and most share the same interior design (right down to a Saint eating a sandwich in the kitchen), while the exterior was done with one thing in mind – “let’s make it bigger”! But the clothing options look nice, the retro cops (with mandatory aviators) in reinforced sports cars are beyond cool. Character design is pretty damn decent and vehicles can be impressive. Besides, one of the helicopters is a “Hind” clone and Mi-35 is the helo-love of my life.

The controls are quite a bit more responsive that SR2 and the cars can be actually driven now. And God (and maybe God-Emperor, just to be sure) help you if you run out of RAM - the controls lock and the game plays them with delay.

Unfortunately, the sound design suffers a lot, as you will be forced to turn off the car radio completely. The selection of music tracks are sparse and horrible! Why did they sacrifice the radio, why? Well, at least the characters are voiced well and the guns sound pleasurable.

After few too many plastic surgeries.

After few too many plastic surgeries.

The multiplayer component is here as well. “Whored mode”, a play on Gear of War’s Horde mode, pits you and a friend against giant hookers, dwarfish mascots and normal-sized gimps in thirty matches. There’s no better way to sate your thirst for furrie’s blood than to shoot some dog-shaped mascots. The campaign can be played in co-op without any tether holding the players. They can dick around, separately, at different ends of the map if they want, only the missions and activities are to be done together. Pity that Mercenaries 2 didn’t give us that luxury. There should be no worries about losing connection since both players can save their individual progress.

Now, what I find annoying – not only about Saints Row, but in sandboxes in general – is the endless stream of enemies once you do something wrong. You shoot a cop – two show up, you shoot them – more come, maybe bring SWAT, too. In the end you’re fending off tanks and helicopter gunships, eventually this becomes really annoying. While SR3 solves heat problems by letting you unlock phone numbers that drop the cop or gang heat, I find Assassin’s Creed’s approach better – there’s a fixed amount of enemies after you and if you kill them, you’re free to go, but the city is on higher alert in case you do further shenanigans. Why can’t they do something like that with these games too?

The Verdict


Saints Row 3 is a fun game of exciting gun play and wonky driving. While I feel that the game has lost certain things that it had in the second iteration, it does show improvements in other areas. So if you want a game that has more color than the present GTA games, Saints Row 3 is your best choice.


Case Review

  • Fighting is Fun: loads of instantly satisfying headshots.
  • Lots and Lots of Customisation: you’ll be swimming in customized vehicles and clothing.
  • The Visual Style is Awesome: every game could use a Hind.
  • Driving is Somewhat Better: it’s hard to tell, but now it’s more akin to really driving a car (in a game).
  • Tries Too Hard to be Over the Top: it’s not that funny.
  • Car Radios are Abysmal: trust me, you’re better off with your own music.


Score: 3.5/5
It’s fun, but it could have been much more.


Gods, where do I even begin? Let me put it this way. I was dressed as a pink pirate, with my co-op partner wearing a Satanic Vampire Priest costume, with glowing eyes, riding in a rickshaw, pulled by a man who speaks through an auto-tuned voice box, who was dressed in a gimp costume, with a ballgag in his mouth, and a harness round his shoulders pulled us through the streets, whilst being chased by gimps in rickshaws pulled by other gimps who were on fire whilst we both unloaded RPGs and military aerial bombardments down on them. Sound crazy? Well, you ain't seen nothing yet!

Saints Row the Third is undeniably the most batshit insane game ever released...until the next one comes along. But that's a story for another time. Even the opening scene of the Third is ludicrously over the top. You're performing a daylight bank robbery, with a TV actor tagging along to get a feel for what it's like to be a Third Street Saint, before playing one on TV. But for some reason, the bank is at the top of a sky scraper, the safe is frikkin' enormous, and you're stealing it via helicopter airlift. Instead of just opening it and taking everything inside, you take the whole damned safe. And that's how it starts!

It only goes more mental from there. Flying aircraft carriers, raids on military compounds, three foot long purple dildos, toilet costume...by which I mean you can run around as a toilet. Not dressed as one, actually as a toilet, cistern and all. Yet, somehow, underneath all this sheer lunacy, there's still some very subtle, and very scathing, social commentary. Many may disagree. But therein lays the beauty of the minds at Volition. They cut so deep it blurs the lines as to be indistinguishable. A great game? Debatable. A fun game? Absolutely.

Score: 4.5/5


Are you tired of games that take themselves far too seriously? Do you happen to like open world games with plenty to explore and do? Do you like crazy things that make no sense and give you the pleasure of comedy entertainment? Well if the answer was at least yes to one of those questions (hopefully all 3) then you'll certainly want to give Saints Row: The Third a glance. The silly nature of the game and storyline is the very essence that keeps the flow of the game running at a nice rate. The humour might seem all in your face at the start in the first act, and it kind of is, but clearly Volition were trying to make a good first impression for people playing the game, which it certainly has done so successfully.

The game is very different to the previous 2 titles, by taking a very comedy orientated story and enhancing the gameplay by refining it in certain areas. It feels a lot like Red Faction: Armageddon gameplay wise with some noticeable elements and ideas implemented from Red Faction: Guerrilla such as the Gang Operations (which would have been Guard Posts and Bases, etc.). This isn't a bad thing, having stuff like this is good and fitting in an open world game, along with the ability to take over the city in different activities and by acquiring different businesses which increases your hourly income, which will enable you to purchase more silly abilities and weapon upgrades to advance yourself and become an unstoppable killing machine. Literally.

But, makes this the game appetizing? Again, this game doesn't take itself seriously at all, you'll not be able to make much sense of a lot of things in the game, which is a good thing in itself, as the game is literally about having fun and not trying to make sense about what is happening and just for you to hop on the ride of insanity and mayhem in a twisted city and parody of the storyline. It literally is the perfect game to have fun in, highly recommended for anyone to dive into after a long stressful day, or just wanting to have some plain fun, and the best bit about all of this is that you can enjoy all of the insanity with another friend in campaign co-op. What more could you want?

Score: 4.5/5
Comments (3)
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Posts: 3290

By the way.

Fuck Pierce!

Posts: 3290

It feels like it's a console game...because it's a console game. A good port. But still a port

Posts: 1548

SR3 has aged. It's not too bad but it feels like it has a few years...or maybe its just me.