Ever wondered what gaming would be like if every developer and publisher in the world finally got their act together and thought: “Hey! Shouldn’t games be fun?” But then, some douchebag (whom I will call Transformer) steps forward and protests: “No Mr. Bonta Samti Cars, what they should be are endless series of thinly disguised hoops and hurdles that we force gamers to jump through over and over while creating the illusion they’re having fun . . . also, add some zombies.” A few moments later, Mr. BSC gets fired for thinking logically and goes off to band together with other logical individuals and creates the Saints Row franchise. The End. Lovely story huh? Well, fortunately for us, it came true! Without further ado, Saints Row: The Third . . .
How does it present itself? As good as SIYM? Nope, even better. The whole premise of the game is literally nothing but having fun. Going wherever you want, doing whatever you want, and having a blast whenever you want. Within the confines of the Steelport city, you’re free to drive, run, barrel-roll, base jump, go shopping, and (if you’re so inclined) go bananas with a giant, purple dildo bat cleverly named the PENETRATOR! Not to be outdone, the customization functionality is also a strong suit for the game. Once you’re in one of the many stores located all throughout the city, you have the option of trying on new clothes, upgrading weapons, even tuning up your pimped-out ride. All this and much, much more make this game one of the most versatile sandboxes in recent memory. Not to mention one of the most colorful ones too.
How does it play? Like a dream! The developers obviously took the time to iron out all the frustrations found in the previous Saints Row. For the longest time, I’ve never been a fan of realism in gaming. To me, it’s a lame gimmick put in place so that if you find yourself having problems, anyone could just say “Oh, well you must suck at this in real life.” When in reality, who FREAKIN’ cares about realism in a video game?!? I don’t come home from work to plop in front of my television and have my xbox instruct me on how to properly aim a sniper rifle. No thanks Battlefield. I’d rather stick to blowing shit up in the most unrealistic fashion because THAT’S fun! Thankfully, the developers thought the same thing and decided to implement it into an even more accessible control scheme. Now, cars stop on a dime, dodging attackers is made easier, pointing and shooting is as solid as ever, and just about every mobility option is done to a most pleasant ease.
How does it look? Definitely not the highlight of this epic circus. While most things within proximity look fairly nice, the draw distance feels a bit limiting. As I was driving, I noticed many times as cars in front of me would seemingly appear out of thin air once I drew closer to them. When you view this game at a distance, it’s not a pretty picture. There’s one particular mission early on where you have to provide sniper support for a friend and (upon zooming in) you realize quickly that the game is far from gorgeous. Lots of textures are poorly rendered and the sharpness of the presentation significantly degrades. However, as with most sandbox games (especially on console) there’s really only so much upping of the visuals you can do before everything becomes a lag-fest. Overall, decent-looking game that’s still fun as hell to play.
How does it sound? Not bad. The voiceovers are excellently implemented and really fun to listen to. Lots of the dialogue is just too good to ignore. For everything over-the-top and loose about this game, the full scope of the story and events are actually done very well. You would think this game is unorganized, but quite the contrary. The sounds of the city, cars, weapons, and dialogue between friends and foes is brought forth to simultaneous results of drama and hilarity. Although the writing never come close to the prestige and ambition of narrative goliaths like Mass Effect, the story is eventful, the characters are vivid, and the audio is best enjoyed with the volume turned way up.
Replayability? Oh yeah. LOTS of it. You could literally lose hours at a time just sight-seeing this rollercoasting sandbox. Not even mentioning the campaign (aside from the obligatory introductions and how-to objectives when you first start) the side missions and gameplay possibilities are seemingly endless. Go demolish a couple of gang operations with an airstrike! Take on hordes of police assaults with a harrier armed with a laser cannon! Base jump off a building with no clothes and land ass crack first on an unsuspecting grandma! Or even better, pilot Professor Genki’s people-sucking Man-a-pault vehicle and blast them out of a cannon!
Saints Row: The Third is aces when it comes to giving people what they want and the proper tools to do so. While this game is as far from perfect as it can be, the fact that its entire existence is built upon nothing more than having a good time is more than enough reason to think that there is still hope for a developers out there to think the same. Or we could all end up as Mr. Transformer and (sometime in the future) think “Darn, I wish I had listened to that Bonti Samti Cars guy.”
-Fifth Fleet Out-