Third time lucky?
Saints Row: The Third (SRTT) is, believe it or not, the third installment of Volition’s morally wrong yet hilarious videogame franchise. I have sunk a fair whack of time into SRTT, but it surprisingly shares a similarity with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. You can hop onto it for a session, lose 2 hours, and realise you haven’t touched the main story. How does SRTT fare in a genre dominated by the almighty GTA I hear you say. It doesn’t. It redefines it. The graphics aren’t groundbreaking, it’s buggy in its current state, and I don’t really have any idea what the storyline is. It is raw, juvenile, offensive, over the top, hilarious…and I love it.
Game: Saints Row: The Third
Developer: Volition, Inc.
As mentioned above, I don’t actually know that much about the storyline. This is mainly due to choosing the Zombie voice for my character, which is totally unintelligible, but definitely adds extra hilariousness to the game. By the time I thought about turning subtitles on, it was already too late.
Thankfully, the storyline isn’t really that hard to follow. Those expecting unpredictable twists and turns or a side plot of blossoming love may want to look elsewhere. Like the previous two games, you follow the notorious Saints gang, but this time it’s set in an entirely new city called Steelport. The absurd yet humorous intro mission helps you get to grips with the controls, and sets the tone for the rest of the game, before throwing you into the character customisation screen. Customisation is a big feature in SRTT, allowing you to pimp out cars (even pavement sweepers), change how your gang members look and of course the clothes that you wear.
Three gangs have already divided up the city of Steelport between them, and being the complete bad asses that they are, the Saint’s want it all. Completing the main missions obtained from various contacts progresses the story further and increases your control of certain areas of the city. Insanely fun side missions can be found throughout, our favourite being Insruance Fraud, which made its debut in Saints Row 2. This involves ragdolling your character into speeding traffic in order to gain insurance money. Bouncing around speeding traffic and getting flung into buildings is entertainment in it’s rawest form. Other side missions include taking part in a gameshow where you shoot people in the face to earn money and extra time, and controlling a tank to cause as much destruction as possible in a set amount of time.
SRTT’s story is about as deep as a coat of paint, but it’s obvious that the purpose of the game is to have as much fun as possible, something which many big releases seem to forget about. On the flipside, those who haven’t played the previous two games won’t find themselves at a disadvantage. The main story wont take you long to complete, but along the way you unlock access to new vehicles such as the awesome VTOL jet, and the side missions will keep you coming back for more.
SRTT isn’t going to be winning any awards for its graphics. Steelport looks ok, especially at night as every building is plastered with neon lights, but beneath the surface lies lifeless and bland back alleys and areas. People and vehicles pop out of nowhere, especially if your zipping along in a nippy car.
Visually there isn’t much of a step up from Saints Row 2, but it’s apparent that SRTT isn’t a showcase of today’s graphical standards. The visuals serve their purpose and that is all. You can see blood spurting from people with every shot they take, and the shock and anguish across a victims face as you beat them with a dildo baseball bat.
Detail is absent throughout, which is frustrating in places as I constantly found myself saying “They could of done this or that or put a few little touches here”, which would of made the city feel more living as opposed to an arena of death, destruction and sex trafficking.
Understandably, with so much going on at once they can only turn up the polished slider to a certain level, and even then there are still huge drops in FPS during big explosions. Thankfully, SRTT has its gameplay to fallback on.
Like the graphics, the sound serves its purpose and that’s about it. There is plenty of voice acting, my favourite being an auto tuned T-Pain character, but the quality isn’t suppose to be taken too seriously.
Like GTA, the game has its own in-game radio stations, ranging from 80’s pop and rock to some grimey hop hop, yo. It also has banter filled adult swim and cartoon network stations which tickled my immaturity levels.
Let us set the scene for you. One mission in SRTT involved having to seek out help from a mexican wrestler, who happened to be in a building surrounded by a large group of enemy gang members. Cruising to the scene in my sleek Audi TT rip off, I spotted a Brute bumbling around causing chaos. Brutes are huge, mean, and built like a brick s**t house, think Arnold Schwarzenegger on
even more steroids. While under heavy fire from pretty much every direction, I put my foot down and head straight for the big guy, hoping to take him out swiftly and dispatch the remaining weaklings. Just before I was about to plough into the hulking beast at top speed, he turns around, drops his shoulder and grabs my car underneath the front bumper. A split second of “WTF?” flashes through my mind, before I’m are flipped high up over his head and into the side of a building, falling to the ground in a smoldering heap of blood and flesh. For the first time ever, I happily hammered the ‘Retry Mission’ button.
SRTT is seriously over the top. It breaks every morale boundary that GTA dared not to cross, whether it be raiding a BDSM orgy in a mansion, or tasing helpless victims before delivering a fatal blow with a big floppy dildo bat. You will find yourself repeatedly saying “That is so wrong”, before realising how fun it was and doing it again 5 seconds later. The opening missions are some of the best in the game, constantly throwing awesome weapons and vehicles at you while slyly nudging you into doing entertaining side missions.
Respect is earned by carrying out missions, killing enemy gang members and generally doing whacky stuff. It is essentially your characters experience points and once it reaches a certain threshold you will level up, allowing you to upgrade your character in a variety of ways. Character abilities include duel wielding pistols, unlimited sprint, more health and no fall damage. You can also purchase many gang abilities, allowing you to have more followers and getting your homies to hand delivery you vehicles from your garage, very useful when you need to make a quick getaway.
You progress through the game by being bounced between different contacts in true GTA-esque fashion, giving you some varying missions. When I say varying, I really mean it. One minute you could be providing covering fire with a rocket launcher from a helicopter, the next you could be driving a contacts pet tiger around town which swipes at you if you don’t go fast enough. Only towards the end of the storyline do missions start to get a bit repetitive, but you can always mix these up with the side missions or just going on rampages.
Co-op mode injects even more life into the game, allowing you to drop into a friends campaign or invite them to your own. Tackling the missions with a friend adds a completely new element of mindless fun, and you can show off your pimped out cars and cribs. Alternatively, we had hours of fun by simply pissing off the police as much as we could, to the point where they sent tanks and attack helicoprters after us, and seeing how long we could last. There is also the “Whored Mode” (geddit?), where you and a friend can see off wave after ridiculously wave of enemies, ranging from zombies to bikini clad midget women wielding sniper rifles. It’s totally crazy, but obscenely fun. Starting to feel like the word ‘fun’ has been massively overused so far, get the hint yet?
There are plenty of things to do in SRTT, and although the main mission may only take you 12-14 hours, you can still try and get 100% control of the city, complete all the side missions, collect the secret sex dolls dotted around, or simply drive around leaving a path of destruction.
As mentioned previously, the main missions clock in at around 12’hours, which is pretty short compared to similar titles. The game actually has two possibly endings, but it lets you see them both meaning another play through is pointless. However when you take into account the side missions, secret packages, and co-op action, you could easily squeeze out 30+ hours out of SRTT. DLC adding new vehicles, mission packs and weapons are already being released for a few quid, again increase its lifetime.
Saints Row: The Third is mindless fun in its purest form. Try and take it for anything more than that, and you will be bitterly disappointed. It will have you crying with laughter and cringing over the immoral threshold it smashes through, which is what makes you come back for more again and again.
The game’s release was dwarfed by the likes of Modern Warfare 3 and Skyrim, but having played both of those titles extensively, SRTT can hold its own due to being able to hop onto it for a quick 20 minutes and have a whale of a time. Take into to account the game’s longevity and the fantastic co-op play, and you have yourself a solid title that is definitely worth picking up, especially when the price inevitably drops.