In a crowded holiday season, Saints Row: The Third may be the biggest surprise of the year. The game is definitely the kind of game that folks have been waiting for, and with Grand Theft Auto V not coming out till at the earliest sometime next year, it has no equal in terms of similarity to gameplay. It’s a nice change-up to the barrage of shooters and standard adventure games that we have been seeing lately. When I first started playing Saints Row: The Third, I thought this is too over the top. However, as the game progressed it turned into something that I couldn’t put down. Fortunately, the outrageousness that can only be Saints Row: The Third pulled me in and wouldn’t let go.
By now you all are familiar with the plot – the Saints have been run out of Stilwater by a powerful criminal organization known as the Syndicate. The entire game is the story of the Saints fight to stick it to the Syndicate and take back what is rightfully theirs. In terms of depth and quality, the story in Saints Row: The Third is significantly improved over Saints Row 2. This time around the story actually makes you want to know what is going to happen next, whereas in Saints Row 2 sometimes you felt like the story was just this loose thing to hold all the mayhem together.
One of the things that make Saints Row: The Third so enjoyable is the constant battle between you and each of the other three gangs in the Syndicate. The Syndicate is a collection of gangs that are out to make sure the Saints get knocked down and stay there. Each of the gangs within the Syndicate has their own unique style and personality, and it is displayed by everything from the cars they drive to the weapons they use.
The Morning Star
The Morning Star are definitely the classiest of the bunch, but don’t let their slick attire fool you. They will fill you full of lead in no time.
The Deckers are a bunch of cyber criminals and while they carry guns and will get into it with you, I would say they are by far the least dangerous of the three.
The Luchadores are by far the most aggressive and most well armed of the Syndicate gangs. These guys do everything just a little bit bigger. Whether it’s their cars or their weapons. If there is a gang that you least want to mix it up with, it would be these guys.
So now that you know a bit more about the members of the Syndicate, let’s break down the rest of the game.
One of my favorite parts of Saints Row 2 was the melee combat, and Saints Row: The Third takes that system to a whole other level. The melee combat system is simple yet affective, especially when used in conjunction with the “awesome” button. The ridiculous moves that can be performed to devastate your enemies as well as an unassuming pedestrian are great. In fact, my only problem with the “awesome” melee moves was that there weren’t more of them that you could gain and upgrade.
The weapons in Saints Row: The Third are again one of the game’s biggest strengths. There are a huge variety of weapons and several layers of customization on top of each one. The game’s trailers have highlighted some of the more funny weapons like a giant dildo bat, but make no laughing mistake about it; you will have a serious deadly arsenal at your disposal. You’ll even have one of the most powerful and useful weapons near the start of the game, the Reaper Drone. I won’t say too much more about it, but as a gameplay tip I’ll tell you that when you come across a gang operation, this is one of the most effective and safe ways to handle those task. In addition to guns, you also have a handful of weapons that you can toss such as grenades and Molotov cocktails. One of the few issues I had with Saints Row 2 was the way the weapons system worked and your propensity to run out of ammo right when you needed it. Fear not, Saints Row: The Third corrects that problem. There are a few other interesting weapons, but I’ll let you discover those yourself.
They say never go to war unless you have your money right, and this is how you will get your money right. In Saints Row: The Third, buying property actually serves a multitude of purposes. The first and perhaps most important purpose is to earn you money, which you can use to buy more property, weapons, and other useful things. The second purpose that some properties provide is a safe haven from any members of the Syndicate you may have pissed off or the fuzz if they are trying to run you down. Going into any of the properties that you own immediately (not all properties you own can be entered) takes down your notoriety level and gets everyone off your back. So if you are in a pinch, pull up the map and find the nearest spot you own and get their ASAP. The third and final purpose that they serve is to move your agenda of taking over Steelport forward. Everytime you acquire property it gives you control of a small section of the city. You can make money from missions and activities too, but this income from property is by far the most effective way to keep a steady stream of money coming in. Once you start earning a decent amount of money, I definitely recommend that you continue buying new property regularly. The only thing that disappointed me about this portion of the game is that the “majority” of properties you own don’t physically change once you acquire them. So if it looked like a dump before, it will look like a dump after. But hey, it’s making you money so I guess that is all that matter.
Up until now, when it comes to customization the game has highlighted what you can do with the characters either in-game or through the Initiation Station. The character customization options are immense and there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to come up with a character that you like. Personally, I didn’t make a lot of heavy customization to my character, but I still think he’s a badass. When it comes to customization though, the real star of the show has to be the great vehicles.
There are a ton of great vehicles in Saints Row: The Third and through its deep customization options you can make them unique and all your own. One of my favorite parts of the game was jacking a car, driving it to the body shop, and customizing the heck out of it. Depending on the model of car, there are several customization options. I’m talking everything from the color to full body kits. The great thing about vehicles in Saints Row: The Third is that they all drive and handle differently and in a game this big its a minor detail that shows their attention to detail. My current garage has almost 20 fully customized and “pimped out” rides and I plan on having many more.
You can even customize your gang. You can decide how they dress, what weapons they carry, and even what they drive.
Saints Row: The Third has missions that you can do in any order you like to move the story along, but there is tons to do outside of that. The game is filled with all kinds of activities that act as an enjoyable diversion from the main story and are addictive in their own right. Several of the popular activities from Saints Row 2 make a return along with some brand new ones. I’ll be honest, people are going to be split on on how they feel about these side missions as they were, some people will love them and other people will think they are mindless distractions. While not really a true activity, I did really enjoy the assassination jobs which presents you with a scenario you need to create to bring your target out and then you can dispatch them any way you want.
There are tons more I could tell you about Saints Row: The Third, but I’ll let you find out the rest on your own. As games go, I have found very little not to like about Saints Row: The Third, though it’s not perfect. If I had to think of something … I would say that it’s very difficult to shake anyone once they are behind you. More frankly, it’s almost impossible. You can swerve through traffic and do all kind of other task and somehow they will be right behind you. It can also be annoying how far they will chase you. Even when you aren’t at max notoriety with a group, they will chase you long after you have left their area. In another surprising turn of events, Saints Row: The Third is a lot more tame than it would have you believe it is. There isn’t as much inappropriateness as one might have imagined. I also have to say a word about these interesting fellas called “Brutes”. The easiest thing I can compare them to is the character Juggernaut from X-Men. They are very powerful and once they start carrying weapons you can forget about it. If you encounter one, never EVER lose track of them. They sway the balance of a battle quickly, and I could definitely have done without them.
The bottom line is that Saints Row: The Third is about as good as a game of this type it can be (that isn’t called Grand Theft Auto). Anyone that tells you different is misleading you. While I’ll admit that they don’t quite capitalize on all the potential for improvement from Saints Row 2, they do deliver a very entertaining experience. There are some absolutely excellent moments in this game, including a scene where you jump from a helicopter and parachute into a penthouse pool party, proceed to kick all kinds of ass while Kanye West’ “Power” plays in the background. Saints Row: The Third isn’t trying to be anything but a lot of fun, and one of its most enduring features is that it never takes itself too seriously. In terms of tone, Saints Row: The Third is definitely a little more light-hearted than its predecessor, but that turns out not to be a bad thing in my opinion and makes it more appealing to a wider audience. Saints Row: The Third by Volition is a great change of pace and a thoroughly enjoyable one, and for that we give Saints Row: The Third 9 out of 10.