Saints Row: The Third

This Is MY City!

Saints Row: The Third makes good on its promise of more over-the-top open-world antics, but can't quite capture the spark that made its predecessor an unlikely hit.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: November 23, 2011
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It's amazing to think that the original Saints Row started as a mostly-grounded Grand Theft Auto clone that perhaps stuck a bit too hard to Rockstar's formula. The humor that was in the game was a bit forced, and though the game offered an online mode that was both persistent and unique, it wasn't until the sequel arrived, ditching much of the gritty tone in favor of always-available co-op and activities like spraying actual shit all over the city of Stilwater as they slowly take it over bit by bit.

Poo cannons? That's tame compared to what developer Volition went for this time out. Saints Row: The Third all pretense of seriousness evaporates the moment your lead character literally flies through the front cockpit windows of a plane, gunning down awestruck rival gang members as they travel down the entire length of the plane and out the cargo hatch. And, if your created character just happens to use the Zombie voice, they're doing it all while snarling incomprehensibly (even the subtitles list only nebulous terms like *groans* and *snarls* while your avatar sputters and spews a mélange of half-syllables that are apparently understandable by everyone else).

I'm not even mentioning the previous (and introductory) mission where your gang, the Third Street Saints, flush with infamy that has spilled over into celebrity status, decide to rob a bank by lifting the entire vault out by helicopter, all while the cops are begging you to stop so they can get autographs. It's the kind of obscenely over-the-top approach that set the previous game apart from any other open-world game, but taken to absolutely ridiculous extremes.

The idea, developer Volition says, was to make the players feel like they were always at the top of the heap rather than having to build everything back up. When arriving in the new town of Steelport, they're definitely not the celebs they were in Stilwater, but the nigh-bottomless pockets and the complete takeover of the villainous Ultor Corporation at the end of the last game (yes, the same Ultor seen in the Red Faction series) means access to an arsenal of super-powered weapons almost from the first second of gameplay.

Early on, you're given access to an aerial bombardment weapon that litters the ground with missiles. Those that pre-ordered the game (and thus have probably finished it long before this review was posted) get access to a cannon that fires mind-controlling baby octopi and a human launcher you can climb into and pretend you're a circus act anywhere you want. These join "regular" weapons like pistols, shotguns, sub-machine guns, assault rifles, rocket launchers and melee weapons like the oft-mentioned giant-dildo-bat-thingie, and most of these can be upgraded until they become almost as ridiculous as the more outlandish weapons. Handguns that juggle enemies not unlike a certain half-demon? No problem. A pair of Uzis that can bust through thick armor? Done.
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