REVIEW: Saints Row The Third
Saints Row the Third. I’m having a hard time coming up with a short summary of how I feel about it. Having played through the first and skipping the second, picking up the third game was a fringe decision. I guess I’m glad I bought it… the game is crazy on a level I’ve never experienced before, and despite the outrageous story, gameplay, and setting, it doesn’t take itself seriously at all. Perhaps it is this “throwing gaming caution to the wind” attitude that makes it a huge winner in my book.
Setting and Plot
Steelport is really not different than the Stillwater, the setting from the first two games. Geographically it is just a city on thee islands (Grand Theft Auto’s Liberty City is the inspiration here) but its varied enough to really make the game work. It’s a city filled with gang-related crime, and its various hallmark locations, such as power plants, military compounds, business districts, and skyscraper jungles, allows the player to enjoy a fairly well developed sandbox for mayhem.
The Third Street Saints, the gang you belong to, has reached celebrity status in Stillwater, becoming a huge media darling. Movies, product placements, and clothing lines are all now a part of the gang’s “business model.” In the first game, which was actually grounded in somewhat of a realistic setting, the Saints were just thugs who killed, raped, and stole their way to financial stability. Now, they make money on “Saints Flow” energy drinks and other merchandise. Now, two games later, the game world is almost cartoonish… pedestrians approach you and other gang members for autographs while you burn down their city and kill their family members. All of this is barely even discussed in gameplay. It’s the norm. It’s ridiculous. It’s hilarious.
The Saints, well known in Steelport but having no actual crime-related presence, are targeted by lesser known & successful gangs from Steelport, and the main characters end up getting kidnapped and arrive in Steelport. Instead of heading back to Stillwater (which may or may not be overrun by zombies now – more on that later) the Saints decide to conquer the town. Within ten minutes of starting the game, you are assaulting the city’s military outpost, stealing bombs, jets, tanks, and you even unlock the predator drone.
All of that… in the first ten minutes.
The rest of the game’s story revolves around buying property to build new gang “penthouses” and basically killing and stealing everything. At one point you even enter a virtual world (matrix style) to fight against a tech-oriented rival gang. Oddly, your avatar in the virtual world is a toilet with an arm holding a gun. Seriously. You play as a toilet. It’s hilarious.
At one point, a futuristic anti-gang task force called “STAG” is deployed to kill off the Saints. They have laser guns, advanced vehicles and aircraft, and they occupy the city like the Galactic Empire. Eventually the Saints deploy their own defense against STAG, which ends up looking like two military forces going at each other. It gets even crazier when giant flying aircraft carriers hover between buildings, leveling everything in their way as they try to kill off gang activity. It’s hilarious.
At the climax of the story, the Saints are less of a gang and more of like a multinational multimedia corporation that has a military division and a huge taste for sexual deviance. As you run around beating people up with dildos (the weapon is called “The Penatrator”) you’ll then fight off Zombies accidentally created by STAG scientists, cloned Hulks and magical gang wizards, and there’s even a mission ON THE SURFACE OF MARS. THIS GAME IS GODDAMN HILARIOUS.
There are dozens of mini games, like “Murder Brawl”, a wrestling-ish mode where the object is to appease the crowd by killing as many wrestlers as possible, “Insurance” mode, where you throw yourself in traffic to take damage and earn insurance suit money, and there are always new virtual worlds to explore. One mission has you whacking people with blow-up sex dolls. I don’t remember the specifics of the mission because I was too bust laughing my god damn ass off.
Now is a good time to mention that one of the main characters talks through one of those neck things people use when they smoke too much and can’t talk. This guy, however, has the vocalizer that also auto-tunes him at the same time. It’s hilarious.
OK. I’ve given you the crazy (and that’s only the tip of the iceberg, really) but there are plenty of other things to talk about with this game, especially the actually game play controls and features. It handles as well as any other sandbox game out there, has a plethora of weapons and an exhaustive upgrade system, providing for dozens of hours of game play. You can upgrade locations you purchase throughout the game to allow you to buy/sell weapons and ammo more effectively and you can even upgrade your penthouses as you move forward to earn more discounts and bonuses. There are dozens of vehicle varieties, from the standard automobile selection (cars, trucks, vans, etc) to military vehicles (tanks, helicpoters, jets) and then the STAG stuff (VTOLs, hover bikes, jet packs).
Character customization is pretty extensive as well. The main character (nameless) is yours to design. Male/Female and feature customization on par with any modern RPG (I honestly think it is better than Mass Effect’s character creator). Clothing wise, you can do a crap-load of mix and matches from goth to techno to hipster. You can even run around in a large animal costume, mascot style, all while sporting huge genitals. (they are blurred out, but that makes it all the funnier).
Your gang can be customized too. At the peak of your gang’s abilities, you can roll around the city with 4 other gangbangers, and each can be customized to look however you want. For most of the game, I was followed around by four women dressed as pink and purple donkeys with rocket launchers and laser guns.
Look… I’ll stop there. This game deserves your attention because it’s the first game in years I’ve played where I felt no pressure to speed through the game, acquire collectibles, and follow any instance of rules. Its hilarious to the point of stomach pain, and I don’t think I’ve smiled more while playing a video game since the first time I played Halo with my friends. I haven’t even had a chance to try the multiplayer… but I’m sure its even more fun with others. Even if you don’t like sandbox games, you will like Saints Row The Third. It’s delightfully vulgar, violent, sexual, and downright silly. It’s the kind of game we need now and then, but have never truly gotten because of how the corporate side of the video game industry works.
I’ll admit it. I like this game more than Skyrim.
-Jimmy “I probably should have played the second game before this one.” the G.
This post has a Shenanaganary rating of:
“At one point my character walked on his hands and he wedged his gun in the crack of his ass while firing it with his feet”