Saints Row: The Third Review
Developer: Volition, Inc.
North American Release Date: November 15, 2011
European Release Date: November 15, 2011
Trophies: 1 2 10 38
Saints Row is a weird take on the sandbox game, the focus seems to be completely on making the player laugh their heads off. The game is crude, offensive and over the top. But my god is it fun. Saints Row is unique and does what others may not dare to try. At one point I was dressed as an overweight naked Mexican chasing a golf buggy full of mascots with a, well lets call it a big purple stick. There are scenes in this game that you will not find elsewhere.
Saints Row prevails in being a hilarious experience, and by throwing the player into a world filled weapons, character customization and crazy vehicles. Whilst the game does well in the fun department, it isn't the strongest game gameplay wise. The shooting mechanics feel a little low budget at times, they definitely aren't the smoothest I've played. There's quite a variety of weapons that are all upgradable in different ways. The weapon upgrades could've gone a little further, they all seem a little copy and paste at time. By this I mean that different weapon groups follow the same theme, they'll have one fire based bullet weapon and one electric based bullet weapon.
In terms of actual physical gameplay, Saints Row simply does the job. There's nothing special here but there's nothing specifically wrong with it. The driving mechanics are fun and a bit over the top. You can spin your wheels whilst stationary and speed off quicker. You can turn on the handbrake and drift around corners at any speed or angle. Whilst these over the top driving mechanics are a laugh to play about with, they get aggravating at times. You can be speeding down a street and end up driving into a small motorbike. The bike will explode, making your own vehicle start exploding. This makes no sense, and can be really aggravating. Helicopters and planes handle weirdly, most games seem to follow the same guidelines for helicopter and plane controls. But Saints Row: The Third tries to simplify this, and it over complicates by doing this. The controls are really simplistic and unrealistic, and it's hard to anticipate what's going to happen at first. Sure you can get used to it but the controls are a little weird.
Certain parts of the combat are pretty fun, if you sprint up towards somebody and attack you'll hit them with a running move, these are hilarious. Watching your character grab a man dressed up as a coke can, grab his head and send it to the ground is pretty unique. As is the high speed way of stealing cars where you drop-kick the window through. There are certain features that again feel unique, such as how easy it is to grab somebody and use them as a human shield.
The balance between realism and fun, but is it the right balance?
My time with Saints Row 3 may be one of the funniest times I've ever had with a game, there's something about this game that truly sets it apart from the rest. The unprecedented levels of obscenity aren't found elsewhere in video games, especially from this generation. In a market filled with games trying and failing to push the boundaries in terms of story, gameplay and graphics. Saints Row takes a step back and doesn't really care about those three. Saints Row 3 is all about you as the player having a funny experience that just isn't found elsewhere.
Right from the start in the very first mission, you just feel indestructible and capable of doing completely unrealistic things. You'll sprint through a barrage of bullets then grab an enemy and use them as a human shield, then take out a group of enemies with the guy firmly up against you protecting you from bullets. Bored of holding that guy? Simply throw him out of the window like he's simply an empty bag. In another mission you'll wake up naked in a dungeon type area. When you've spent your time making the fattest ugliest guy possible, and all you can see is his censored out ass, it's hard to imagine that scene in another game. The levels of stupidity are high in the story missions, but it's when you're let loose with your own imagination that it gets crazier. You'll be trying to find a vehicle and all you can find is a golf buggy full of mascots. You then dropkick the driver out of the vehicle and drive off with a cart full of mascots as hostages. They also have quite a lot of variation in the mission types which constantly changes the pacing of the game. One minute you'll be skydiving out of a plane, the next minute you'll be in a massive shoot-up, then later on you'll be dangling from a rope, taking out targets with a sniper.
Whilst it's a really fun and unique experience, I felt there was absolutely no connection to anything happening around you. The closest thing to feeling connected was when I started to learn the map a little. You begin familiarizing yourself with your surroundings but it's not much. Part of my mind is subconsciously comparing it to GTA IV where you were completely immersed in the living city. This isn't present with Saints Row 3, but it isn't truly fair to compare it pixel to pixel with GTA IV. Any sense of realism that might be there at the start of the game is gone by the end when there are spaceships hovering above the city, jets and tanks chasing you around the city. They definitely have the humor factor in the game, but it's a little disappointing that it's really the only thing going for the game, it's a bit of a laugh.
The game is however a great example of how we should be able to customize our character in a sandbox game. It's one thing being able to buy swanky suits etc. but that's nothing compared to being able to visit plastic surgery shops and completely re-designing your character from head to toe. The hair choices are a little limited, as are the likes of tattoos and piercings, but there's enough there to keep you coming back to change your character. There's also a large variety of different side missions and challenges to keep you busy. The highlight of the side missions has to be insurance fraud, where your aim is to get your character hit by as many cars as possible, almost like the crash mode on burnout, but with an actual character, making it look so much funnier. To summarize Saints Row 3, it's as though they've taken GTA IV, syringed out every bit of realism and injected it with over-the-top gameplay and incredibly crude humor.
The more you play this game the more ridiculous it seems to get
Playing Saints Row 3 can be hilarious, but playing it on co-op turns this up another notch. Everything seemed ten times funnier in the co-op mode, even the simple things like dressing up in outfits then entering missions. But when you're playing through mission, you feel like a third wheel, in the sense that the missions are all designed for one player. All of the objectives are based around one player, once it's done the other player will often be teleported across to player one's position. You feel like the worlds most un-important sidekick in a way, being dragged around the game for no real reason. The inclusion of co-op specific missions would've been better, or a co-op campaign. The sidemissions do however work well in co-op, as there is no real focus on one player doing a specific task. Instead you try to work as a team to reach a certain score.
In terms of matchmaking and online play quality, the game is flawless. Getting into a game is easy, and there are no complications with save files. You can go back and complete older missions that you've already been to with no conflicts with your own progress, meaning you can easily catch up on your own challenges and side missions etc. Completely stable lag-free gameplay is refreshing to come across, and it makes playing with a co-op partner such an enjoyable experience
Some of the sidemissions bring in a lot of life to the game
Saints Row 3 isn't by any meaning pushing boundaries in terms of graphics and visuals, but it does the job more than capably. Where the game prevails is that it gives the player a lot of choices, mainly with character creations. Quite a lot of the time, your created character can look like something actually developed by the developers. It doesn't look like some randomly thrown together, weirdly colored and low quality mismatch of clothes and facial features. One of my favorite parts is the way that your characters hair seems to move about with your movements, rather than just being an object stuck to your head. The customization is also present with vehicles. Nearly every vehicle can be taken to a vehicle store to be customized in quite a number of ways. And again (with exceptions) your newly modded vehicles look like the pre-made type made by the developers.
Saints Row 3 has one of the best soundtracks since Vice City. There I said it, it's off my chest. What's usually a seemingly unimportant feature that's there just for background music can make me love a sandbox game so much more. Vice City tried to recreate the 80's vibe, how do you achieve that best? By including the most well known 80's tracks that even today still get stuck in your head. Saints Row 3 tries to capture this modern 'gangster' feel and it does so with the soundtrack in the same essence that Vice City does. It features a range of modern tracks from a broad spectrum of genres, and then throws in some classics for the hell of it. This gets you completely in the mood for the game. The voice-acting isn't exactly bad, but what was how fake sounding some of the voices are that you can chose for your character, whilst I appreciate that it might not seem worthwhile to have twenty different voice actors, it's the only thing that brings the character creation down. The game has glitches if you set out to find them, if you try and ram your car into an elevator, take it to the top and drive it off, the game's gonna spit some glitches back at you. But from general gameplay in both singleplayer and co-op I came across barely any faults.
Not a massively long platinum but a fun one at that, gets you to cover most of what there is to do in Steelport.
One of the most fun games of the year without a doubt, but no without its faults. If you pick up the game as a GTA killer, you may be disappointed in some regions. If you pick it up as a funny co-op sandbox game you'll not be disappointed
Nothing truly wrong with the gameplay, but it seems caught between realistic and unrealistic
With the only real faults being the storyline, There is a lot to do in Saints Row 3
Fantastic in the connection and matchmaking department, but I still spent my time with the missions feeling like a third wheel
Nothing spectacular but nothing truly wrong with it, the soundtrack was definitely one of the highlights of the game for me