* Most Mojo in 2011
Outlandish, brash and always in-your-face, 'Saints Row: The Third' is more of the same, just done better. Oh yes, the Saints are back, and this time they are in control.
The Saints have undergone a slight transformation in Saints Row: The Third (aka Saints Row 3) by moving up the upper echelon of social status. Not only are they still a hardcore bunch of thugs, but they are also Hollywood celebrities; glamourized in an world that "really, really" glorifies violence. Of course, this is done with a college-humour mentality that never takes itself too serious. If the initial 'Star Wars' spoofing in the intro doesn't point that out, the rickshaw chase with pimps and gimps scene will make this totally clear. "The Saints" has always mixed violent action with clever writing and humour, but never before has it come across in such an unbridled fashion. Volition has topped themselves and proven that open-world scenarios don't always have to be Cowboys and Indians.
Turf war, mega-sized
Into the action the Saints find themselves in a power struggle for Steelport, and much like the previous games, it's basically a mega-sized turf war. Staring your created hommie (the Boss) and group of meek followers, it's your city, your guns and your rules... or so you thought. In this future scramble, the Saints are somewhat reduced to basics and tasked to start over. Although it is nothing close to their humble beginnings in the first Saints Row, it takes a few missions before you start to feel that addictive sense of power the series is known for. However once you do, this is when the real fun begins. 'Saints Row' has always been known for its vast urban-warfare sandbox, and 'The Third' expands on this more.
Your main rival is the international criminal organization tagged "The Syndicate." Strengthening their grip on Steelport they employs three other gangs to do their bidding; the Morning Stars, the Luchadores and the Decklers. Each gang has their specialties from drugs distribution to computer hacking and money laundering. Additionally, each gang has their own colour, style, vehicles and so on. Much like the previous games you will be fighting for property, turf, and cribs over the extent of the game. The natural gang are the police who have been beefed up in 'Saints Row 3,' offering a strong deal of resistance with their STAG (Special Tactical Anit-Gang) program. As expected some great characters are also built around each proxy, which brings to life what could have otherwise been a stale undertaking.
"Saints" doesn't really doesn't pick until you get to the second half of the game, approx. 5-6hrs after you start to regain your authority. With the help of a few distinguishing recruits, who are found in the most uncompromising situations, the Saints get hawked up with a solid team that never stops pushing our presumptions. If it's not the outlandish generic freak Oleg, or the auto-tuned Zimos, 'Saints Row 3' is never afraid to up intensity, or the wierd.
Explosions first, narrative second
As you complete objectives you will boost your respect and earn cash while taking back parts of the city. As expected you can hop in-and-out of the main campaign whenever you wish. Side objectives will keep you busy, although the main story holds its own and is filled with high impact missions. These goals are competently crafted, pushing the philosophy of adrenaline and explosions first, narrative second. Yet, some option and therefor replayability has been laced into the Saints tale of gangbanging. These branching decision will change the outcome of your tale and even effect missions in the future.
The game mechanics are mostly the same as the previous game. However they have been considerably tightened up. Player movement and vehicle handing is more responsive and doesn't feel as “loose.” For additions "Saints" is a little more zany vehicles and weapons. Health is handled the same, but you won't be able to replenished health with various food and drink like the last two games. Lastly, the “awesome button” needs to be highlighted, as it allows you to do vicious "one-timer" combat moves or an explosive jumping car jacking maneuver. No time for the slow, adrenaline first.
Murder time is fun time
'Professor Genki' is not only DLC that is offered along the pre-orders. It is also a whacky game-show mini-game. Themed with the slogan “Murder time is fun time” you'll run through mazes of doom that tests your gun mastery. The obstacles are a mixture of fire, electricity, gun totting mascots and a few other deviations of death. When found you will likely enjoy running the mazes as they offer an interesting diversion from normal city life. Like 'Genki' there are loads of side objectives and little mini-games to test out. Introduced through the plot and carried out later in your leisure, it's impossible to get bored while roaming the streets of Steelport.
Not time for st-st-stuttering
A notable enrichment in “The Third” is the frame rate. It's solid with little slowdown. Optimized to the fullest, even when pure madness in an all out war is happening in ultra-fast vehicles, you rarely see a second of stutter. Glitches do exist, as expected in a sandbox world this size, however they don't interfere with the gameplay, which is the most important factor. Path-finding has been a problem in the past and while its improved, it's not perfect. Again, to be expected when dealing with this much chaos. Still, Saints Row looks great! The visuals have their own cartoon/realism blended that plays perfectly into the crazy gameplay. While Steelport will never be regarded in the same light as other sandbox titles, its one that is impressive and solid enough to house all this whacky mayhem.
Return of the Mack
The soundtrack is respectably flush with 8 stations playing a cross-genre mix of tunes that span some unknown artists to the more common. You can even make mixed tapes out of the songs you hear, to customize the experience even more. For a quick example expect dance classics like Mark Morrison “Return of the Mack” to alternative tracks like “Pepper” from the Butthole Surfers, all the way to the demonic metal of AmonAmarth with “Runes to My Memory.” Celebrities lend their roles by lending their voice. To drop a few names, Hulk Hogan, Sasha Grey, and Natalie Lander, star and excel in their assigned roles.
Keep it classy, umm, the Whoremode
The two multiplayer components in the "Saints" is the ability to play the campaign with a friend in the co-op mode and a new addition of a wave based mode that is obviously a play off Gears of War's Horde mode, called the classy “Whoremode.” This utterly bizarre wave-by-wave mini-game tasks you with some of the most bizarre objectives we've seen in gaming. From shooting miniature half-naked angel women to fighting a bunch of masked gimps in “sausage fest,” if we had an award for the weirdest moment in gaming for 2012, this would be it. Damn Volition, you kids be crazy!
Saints Row keeps getting better with age, or should I say, with the element of “crazy.” More intense, more chaotic, more bizarre; 'Saints Row: The Third' offers up a sandbox of celebrity driven gangsters caught in the ultimate gang war. Fans of the series, you're going to love the all upgrades in the continuing saga of the Saints; and for all the n00bs, its time you fired your gats along side the Saints (just make sure the kids are sleeping.) 'Saints Row: the Third' is the series best and one of the best pure action games of the year. Repect.
Similar Games: Saints Row (8.5) | Saints Row 2 (8.7)