Saints Row: The Third Review (PS3/360)

February 10, 2012

PlayStation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360

Saints Row: The Third is the latest installment in the franchise developed by Volition and published by THQ. This time around, the Third Street Saints are prepping up for a more outlandish, over-the-top, farfetched adventure in the city of Steelport. Does the game stay on par with your average sandbox title or does it best the originator of sandbox titles, Grand Theft Auto? Let’s find out.

Story: 4/5

The Third Street Saints are back and this time enjoying their fame and fortune. Energy drinks, merchandise and a movie are in the works for the Saints but things go slightly downhill shortly after the intro sequence. The Saints are robbing a bank with a method actor for the gang’s upcoming movie and the bankers don’t take this nicely. Equipped with military grade weapons, the bankers retaliate full force and give the Saints a harder time stealing the bank’s vault. It is here where the Saints get jail time and realize that they’ve sold themselves out for nothing more than media blowout. While in jail, the Saints receive unexpected guests that state they have an offer for them. They board a cargo plane where the head honcho of a group known as the Syndicate plans on taking control of the city and it’s profits. They offer to give the Saints their life back but with only a third of their profits while everything else would go to the Syndicate. Evidently, the Saints don’t take that very well and decide to retaliate with some physical force. Unfortunately, series favorite Johnny Gat says his farewell in this sequence and while it could’ve been a powerful scene, it was very poorly done. Throughout the story, the Saints have to rebuild their reputation and take back their city from the other gangs posing a threat. It’s actually a very well written story with some clever uses of other movie/game licenses that fans of pop-culture will really enjoy.

Gameplay: 5/5

Saints Row: The Third provides a very unique and refreshing take on the open-world genre. Rather than having players sledge through mundane missions early on to build up to more climatic ones, Volition paced this game by having an excellent opening sequence and only getting better, each and every mission. The main story missions will have you hooked from beginning to end, also providing players with decision making and multiple endings.

After the prologue mission, you will be treated to an incredibly in-depth character creation system. It is here where you will be able to create essentially any type of character you’d like. Each aspect of the character can be fully edited from cheekbones, jaw, ears, mouth, forehead, eyes, body build, sex appeal, age, skin color (literally any color possible), hair style, etc. Once you spend a lengthy amount of time creating your character, you can then upload them to the Saints Row website for others to rate and download. It certainly gives players a strong reason to register on the website and get involved with the community there.

From this point on, you will have the city to explore at your fingertips…and there’s a great amount to do. The word “customization” was certainly being tossed around at Volition’s office when developing this as almost anything and everything is customizable. Want to customize what your gang looks like? Done. Want to customize what cars they drive and how they look? No problem. Want to upgrade your vehicles stored in the garage with NOS, cosmetic and performance upgrades? Absolutely. There’s no shortage of customization that you can do in this game.

As far as the main gameplay goes, it plays like your typical open-world, GTA style game would, but with an absurdity never before seen. By holding down the Sprint (a.k.a. “Awesome”) button, you will enable a whole variety of wacky interactions. If you sprint into someone and press the melee button, your character will do a wild and flashy attack to the pedestrian or enemy (i.e. bodysurfing, DDT, etc). These moves never get old and always provide plenty of “laugh-out-loud” moments…even after playing the game for 30+ hours. Stealing cars has also never been so much fun as you will dive kick through the front windshield, knocking the driver out of the car and if there is a passenger in the car, you can initiate a “hostage situation” for extra Respect Points. One of the best features is the ability to play online with a buddy. Your friends can jump into your game at anytime and from here, decide to tackle missions together or just screw around causing mayhem. The coop element certainly heightens the experience and will extend the longevity tremendously.

Respect Points are used to upgrade your saint with extra health, ammo capacity, stronger strength, more hourly income, vehicle dropoffs, etc. The one extra mile that Volition went was to reward the player with upgrading the character to have invincibility and infinite ammo when you fully upgrade those categories. It’s always a nice bonus feature to see developers add this in as a reward rather than a cheat.

Gunplay works the way you’d expect a third-person shooter to work. The left analog stick will move your character with strafing action while the right analog stick will control your camera and aiming. You have a weapon wheel (similar to Resistance or Ratchet and Clank) in which you will be able to quickly access which weapon you need switch to when in hectic shootouts. By default, the aiming reticle moved a bit too slow but simply going to the control options and tweaking the sensitivity solves that problem. The only problem with the overall gameplay is the lack of any type of cover system. There are times where you will be hugging the wall as a means of cover and regenerating health but surprisingly there’s no cover system implemented for all the heavy gunplay that you’ll come across. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but always a welcome mechanic that is usually more beneficial.

Simply put, Saints Row: The Third is easily some of the most fun you will have with a game this generation. Unlike many games aiming for that ultra-realstic feel, Saints Row differentiates itself in an over-saturated market by being as absurd and outlandish as possible. This works entirely in the developer’s favor and helps to provide a unique experience that comes second-to-none.

Graphics: 4/5

Saints Row The Third’s visual style works very well for it’s goofiness. It has a nice blend of colorful and vibrant visuals but doesn’t go for that ultra-realistic look. The characters have a ton of animations and all look extremely fluid. The city is incredibly details with attention paid to every street and alleyway to ensure a unique environment. The game runs rock solid and never drops the 30 fps mark no matter how intense the action can get. Occasionally there will be some visual pop-up and uneven lighting. Nothing drastic but noticeable nonetheless. While it’s not the most stunning visuals available in the market, it certainly holds it’s own and does a great job of it.

Sound: 5/5

The audio department here provides one of, if not, the best licensed soundtrack for an open-world game to date. Whether you’re driving to “No Easy Way Out” from Robert Tepper (from Rocky IV) to doing a shootout while storming an office complex with “Last Man Standing” by Hybrid (an amazing song if you haven’t heard it) to the various Mission Complete themes, this is a music selection at it’s finest. Hell, they even have “I Need a Hero” from Footloose playing when making a final decision toward the end of the game and you can’t help but crack up at how ironic it is that this particular song is playing with all the mayhem going down. The voice acting is top-notch across the board and the characters sound believable. Wrap all this up on top of the fitting sound effects and you’re in for an audio package to crack your sound system up to.

Overall Score: 18/20 = 9.0 out of 10

Saints Row: The Third does for the open-world genre what Bulletstorm does for the FPS genre. It revitalizes the genre in a way that one could immensely appreciate. Volition was aware that there are numerous other open-world titles out on the market but they knew what they needed to do to truly standout from the bunch…make it as absurd and ridiculous as possible.

PROs:

+ Insanely Addictive Gameplay

+ Cleverly Absurd Story

+ Strong Audio

+ Tons of Variety

+ Drop-in/Drop-out Campaign Coop

CONs:

– No Mission Replay Feature

– Some Visual Hiccups

– Johnny Gat’s death was poorly done

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About Glacier928

Marcello is the founder, creator and editor-in-chief of GamersXtreme. His dedication and passion shows as he keeps gamers informed with daily news articles and provides truthful, honest opinions on all gaming related news. Having experience with video game design, as well as over 20 years of gaming under his belt, Marcello has always had a massive interest in the gaming society. Originally, he created GamersXtreme in the style of a magazine back in middle school. Today, he has taken what was created as a basic premise and has evolved it into the site it is today.

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