Saints Row: The Third sticks out from the rest of ‘Threequel Season 2011′ by not being a boring, brown, tired shooter. I mean we’ve already had Resistance 3 and Gears of War 3, the former of which actually exceeded expectations of not being awful, while the latter was an okay end to an already dated series. And with Battlefield 3 out in a matter of days, to be swiftly follow by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, I wanted to spend some time pointing out why it isn’t all doom and gloom this holiday season, and why (if Saints Row 2 is anything to go by) this game will knock off your festive patterned socks come November 18 (November 15 for our US friends).
Saints Row was one of the first “proper” sandbox game to appear on the home consoles, before the avalanche of them hit shortly afterwards. Developers Volition, Inc were also going to create a Gamecube version, which was then scrapped following the announcement of the Wii. As with the previous two titles, you control the nameless leader of the Third Street Saints gang. Having survived the cliffhanger ending of the original game, as well as defeating rival gangs and corporations left, right and centre during Saints Row 2, the Saints have become national celebrities, complete with their own fashion lines, sodas and other endorsements.
Hands-on demos of the game have been circulating in the US, and many have spoken about the sheer depth the campaign is likely to offer. It is expected that the main campaign itself should last about 20 hours, plus there are plenty of side quests and other activities, plus I’ve always found the replayability of the first two games to be pretty high. I’ve played through parts of Saints Row 2 just to relive some of the set pieces, and I am sure Saints Row 3 will be no different. The game opens up with a particularly bombastic bank vault mission, which looks like it was pulled right out of the birthing pool following one night stand between the Fast and Furious movies and Oceans Eleven.
A new crime syndicate, known only as The Syndicate (Holy Crackdown 2 flashbacks, Batman…) is now in control of the city of Stilwater, having slimed their way up from the foundations, so the Saints decide to set up shop in the nearby city of Steelport. Three new gangs await you here, The Morning Star, Luchadores, and Deckers, as well as the military who stick their awe in later in the game, by order of the Mayor, not to mention Syndicate folk who pop up like Godfather Whack-a-Moles. The missions, as previous titles have displayed, are both varied and bonkers at all times, seemingly taking inspiration for many of them from some of the best action movies around. One lead designer for the game has quoted both Arnold Schwarzenegger’s thriller Eraser and The Hangover as starting points for some of the laugh out loud missions we can expect from this third instalment.
Gameplay seems to be the aspect of the game that has had the most development since Saints Row 2. The driving mechanics, as with most games, have been middling and average at best, but at least competent. Third time around, the driving seems smoother, with longer, less cluttered streets to drive through in our new home of Steelport City. The over the top nature of the missions continues on with the fighting and interaction, as “nut shots” are rewarded, while you can even drop kick through a car window to get in instead of using the door. Wow. Right down to the weapons we’ve seen so far, Saints Row: The Third will be unmatched in the creativity stakes. I mean any game that has a weapon range that goes from “purple, floppy dildo” to “the manapult”, a device capable of sucking in victims, before flinging them around at will, is likely to be unmatched for the time being.
I don’t even have to go into how good this game looks in demos and trailers, but I will let you be the judge of that. With the all new “Whored Mode” to play through, as well as a playing through the huge campaign with a cast of brilliantly written characters, this game is likely to cause that good kind of upset that is so rarely achieved these days.
The following trailer is rated Mature, and contains scenes of a gimp pulling a chariot, and a bunny firing a rocket launcher. Enjoy!