Saints Row The Third ReviewRando Evans
It'd be easy to look at Saints Row: The Third and dismiss it right away as another game catering to the immaturity of a wide group of gamers. It could be easy to pass it off as another game trying to hard to be offensive, wacky, and off-beat. Maybe you're right, but Saints Row: The Third, in a bizarre sort of way, succeeds at being over-the-top, immature, disgusting, and yet doing it all with a sense of South Park class.
In this third installment of the Saints Row series, we see The Saints gang at the height of popularity - world icons if you will. But of course this is short-lasting - as once they screw up a bank robbery they find themselves in trouble and headed to new territory - this time Steelport, a sort of Tokyo meets American midwest urban setting. Here they run into opposition from other gangs, and well, things only get messier from there.
On your mission muddling up other crime syndicates - you're going to be placed in an open sandbox world much like the other Saints Row games, and there is going to be plenty to do here. Plenty to explore, plenty of side-missions, along with a decently lengthy main story - but all of this is expected, what is not expected is the craziness of how everything unfolds.
The wackiness starts with customization - designing the main hero will just give you a taste of the direction the game is going. Want to play a half naked Geisha? How about an over-blown steroidal Mexican wrestler? A Cross dresser? Dominatrix? The list goes on - take your choice. Once you finally get into Steelport, things are only going to get wackier as you fight your way past luchadores, cyber-hackers, and a variety of other crazy, bizarre characters - some of which are quite hilarious, others which tend to get on your nerves. While things get adult, nothing seems to really get too offensive, just mildly tasteless - because everything within Saints Row: The Third acts like a group of sixth graders cracking jokes out in the playground and at the end of the day its fairly innocent (even with the amount of sex and violent put into it). Saints Row: The Third doesn't take itself too seriously while taking itself serious enough to have standards and tact. It says - hey, this is a game for adults, its going to be like some wacky fever dream, but its going to work. And it does.
Most missions will entail massive amounts of destruction or at least an insane amount of chaos. Start off a shoot out with a couple guys, and soon waves and waves of gangs or police will be after you. Fortunately, Saints Row the Third is made for this kind of messy blow-'em up action, and with a control scheme which doesn't match any sort of tightness level like an Uncharted, its not going to be terrible for you to blow past those waves of rivals.
Like an Elder Scrolls game, every action you do in a Saints Row game will give you points towards increasing your skills. While Saints Row doesn't use experience, it utilizes respect points and money which function much the same way - and pretty much every action you take is going to earn you these. These can be used to help you get new skills and essentially level up a bit.
Of course the game isn't perfect in any way. Graphically, sometimes it succeeds, and other times it just seems lifeless. There isn't a whole lot of dynamic to the city whether it is the traffic patterns or pedestrians. Also, for better or worse the game is never really a huge challenge, but I am sort of happy that I can sit back, and blast my way through Saints Row The Third and experience its world without too much frustration - however it would have been nice to at least see a little bit more of a skill test here. Overall, the story is going to leave you confused, if you even pay attention to it - but its not so much that it matters when you're fighting a group of Mexican wrestlers with a giant phallus.
Saints Row has always been struggling to show that it is a different game series from GTA. Saints Row The Third never set out to prove its a different game, it simply just executes itself as one. I can imagine at one point the developers just threw their arms up in the air at a meeting and said "give them something different, go, use your imaginations... have fun." Saints Row The Third feels exactly like they did so - and if it was fun making this game, then its been just as fun playing it.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.