SAINTS ROW: The Third (8GPPs)
by Gareth Brown 04/01/12
Straight to the Point: Crazy, over the top and often hilarious, Saints Row: The Third puts the series into the open world big league. 8GPP (Geek Pride Points)
(This review includes tiny, minor spoilers, but given that this game is INSANE, we needed to give you some context.) From humble beginnings as an uninspired GTA rip off, the Saints Row series has finally found its voice, in one of 2011’s most unapologetically “fun” games. Following the events of the second game, the Stilwater Saints are riding high, with their own multimedia conglomerate that includes TV shows, movies and energy drinks. However, things don’t go smoothly for long, and they find themselves transported to the city of Steelport where they must once again rise to the top of the criminal underworld…
Things we like
- Polish – Open world games are renowned for their bugginess. For the most part, SR:TT is as polished as they come, and bar a few AI path-finding issues, we didn’t see any levitating grannies, backwards dragons or horse people. The game also looks great, with a cartoony, neon style and some great visual and audio effects.
- Your character, your way – Be it a seven foot tall kabuki transvestite, a bright green gorilla costume or Walt from Breaking Bad, you can create an infinite number of freaks, character tributes or lookalikes. Plastic surgeries dotted around the city mean that no choice is permanent, and with seven voice tracks to choose from (including the unintelligible “zombie”), there’s nothing you can’t tweak. You can even download other people’s creations if you’re feeling lazy!
- Killing prostitutes – This is always the best part of an open world crime game, and SRTT is no slouch. We even turned our gang into a harem of hookers so that we could chainsaw them in the safety of our crib.
- Weapons – You start the game with access to an airborne bomber drone, and things only get crazier. In the last third, we had access to infinite incendiary SMGs, a remote control that works on real cars and a purple dildo bat called “the penetrator”.
- Vehicular manslaughter – SRTT’s commitment to the ludicrous extends to the selection of vehicles, which is both overpowered and hilarious. Without spoiling some of the highlights, there are tributes to several geek-favourite movies, and you’ll even be able to soup up a SMART car to become a Mad Max style death machine. With some big, bling rims, naturally.
- Bringing the lulz – SR:TT is some funny shit. With a pro-wrestling based melee system and about 20 different ways to crack someone in the balls, the temptation to harass civilians is ever-present. But the humour isn’t confined to the gameplay, and SRTT features one of the sharpest, most knowing scripts and the best voice acting you’ll see this side of Portal 2.
- Another level – The majority of SRTT’s missions are standard “open world, go here, shoot countless dudes, escape” fare. But there are several missions that stand out as some of the best gaming has to offer this year; from a zombie outbreak to a trip into cyberspace that takes you into another genre altogether.
- Any chance of an upgrade? – SRTT has a light RPG style character upgrade system that basically allows you to unlock a range of OTT powers. We are now invulnerable to bullets, explosions, fire, falls and car crashes. We never have to reload, can sprint forever and have infinite rockets. It’s an officially-sanctioned God mode and we love it.
- Combat fatigue – The core gameplay of SRTT doesn’t stray far from the template established by GTA over 10 years ago. You drive places, shoot people, drive back, and masturbate in guilt and shame. Wait, what?
- Pimping ain’t easy – We have to admit being a little tired of the pimps and hos vibe that’s infected this series since it started. Given how far removed from any semblance of reality Saints Row has become, we hope it ditches the remnants of this aesthetic for the already announced Saints Row 4.
- Multiplayer by numbers – While the two player co-op is fun, it pales when compared to the suite of options offered by something like GTA. The cringingly tilted “Whored Mode” isn’t even worth trying, and feels like it’s only included thanks to the name.
It’s rare for us to 100% an open world game, but SRTT compelled us to keep playing. After 24 hours in Steelport, we’d done every activity the map had to offer, and completely upgraded our character (a zombie-voiced Clarke Gable lookalike, since you ask). Once this is done, there is nothing to do except shoot cops and dick around. DLC please! There’s also some room for improvement in the gunplay, which while serviceable is far from perfect.
SRTT is a reminder that the concept of “fun” is still important. In a year dominated by military shooters and po-faced RPGs, its rabid quest to show you crazier sights and inspire you to even greater acts of mayhem put a big old smile on our faces and a purple veined penetrator in our pants.