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.
Published: November 23, 2011
The weapons are only a means to dispose of the thousands of enemies that you'll face while playing through the game's missions, and these Volition tried to pepper with what they called "holy shit" moments -- stuff like that bank vault and flying through a plane. These are fairly front-loaded, however (the few missions where you're forced to run through the basics with fellow Saint pierce notwithstanding), and lose much of their punch through the middle of the game. Things do pick up toward the end, but it's not unfair to say things sort of grind to a halt after the bombastic end of the first chapter.
Normally, this would be about the point where most players would distract themselves with all the various things an open world game offers, but many of those activities (a startling number of which are centered around escort missions) are carried over from the second game, and the stuff you would think was brought back (like that aforementioned shit spraying) is noticeably absent. A few unlimited grenade Mayhem missions and the ability to drive a tank through the city laying waste to everything just doesn't have the same impact the second time around. Don't get me wrong, they're perfectly passable options, but they also smack of déjà vu.
If nothing else, Saints Row: The Third ends up somehow preserving the addictive city takeover activities of its predecessor; all the various side missions help disrupt the operations of the three main gangs in the cities (the masked Luchadores, militaristic Morning Star and tron-inspired cyber punk Deckers) and slowly bleed the three main islands of rival presence. Completing them successfully also earns you a bit of respect and a share of cash that's automatically deposited into your bank account at regular intervals, which can then be transferred by way of your handy little phone (no more having to go to a hideout to loot the safe, thankfully).
Cash, of course, is the key to getting anything done in the game. You'll use it to upgrade a handful of strongholds, which not only increases the amount you can hold for transfer into your bank account, but eventually turns the buildings into garish purple landmarks you can see from just about anywhere in Steelport. It's how you buy and upgrade new weapons, how you unlock new perks (more on those in a second), how you purchase new property (which in turn ups the amount you earn every in-game hour by a few ticks) and how you buy all those fancy outfits that help make your character all swanky (y'know, when you aren't shelling out for plastic surgery that allows for everything right up to a sex change) -- and new duds naturally give you more respect.
Respect is actually completely overhauled this time around. No longer are your forced to grind it to reach a new level, thus unlocking new missions. You can take on just about anything at any time regardless of respect, but that respect acts more as an RPG-style gate to progressively more powerful perks you can buy with cash. By the time you hit the game's level 50 cap, you'll be able to run forever, be completely invulnerable to damage from all but melee attacks, call in any vehicle (including aircraft) and generally just tear through the game unscathed. Unfortunately, that does tend to take most of the challenge and indeed the fun out of things, but it's doubtful all but the most OCD folks will be able to do this before they actually finish the main storyline.