Saints Row: The Third is the evolution of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. If there was an alternate reality where Rockstar decided not to take a more serious tone with Grand Theft Auto IV, this is where I feel they might have ended up. It’s crude, violent, hilarious, and it has a pacing that most open world games can’t manage.
As usual with an open world GTA style game, there are side missions and main missions for you to do. Unlike GTA though, the missions don’t really follow the pattern pacing with slow missions and more fast paced action packed missions. It’s at 90 to 110 miles per hour at all times. The first mission in the game is bank heist where you end up trying to lift a safe out of a bank and it’s followed up with a mission where you sky dive out of a plane and then smash back into that plane to blow it up and then skydive some more, all the while shooting fools out of the sky. Generally you are shooting and driving vehicles, but the vehicles range from sci-fi style jets to hover bikes. Objectives vary quite a bit too with some missions having you searching for objects while avoiding enemies, and others have you trying to shoot out the tires of a car using the machine gun on a tank.
There is also a leveling system based on respect where you can upgrade various things that unlock with cash. You can earn cash in a similar fashion to Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood by buying business and automatically earning cash every hour. Eventually, weapons can get insanely powerful. For example, level 4 pistols can take down a helicopter.
While it may seem absolutely insane, it makes the kind of sense that you’d expect in an established cartoon universe. The things that are happening are insane and you would never expect them in a modern gang-based game. After a while of playing, it makes enough sense compared to everything else that has also happened. The jokes are generally low humor but it’s really good low humor. Lots of parodies of various things in popular culture, as well as some independent jokes that are just as funny.
Saints Row: The Third has some decent visuals, but the most impressive part of the style is the absolute insanity of the buildings. Giant animated ads that take up the entire side of buildings and bright lights everywhere. It makes the city look much more interesting than if it was just a city. The character creator is also amazing and lets you create anything you want really, from fat monsters, to demon men, or even normal dudes. As long as it’s a humanoid, you can probably make it if you put in the time.
Saints Row: The Third also has a really good soundtrack. It’s not quite on the level of the Tony Hawk franchise’s soundtracks or the Grand Theft Auto series’ soundtracks, but it’s really good. They vary it up and use the songs beyond just the radio by sometimes forcing it to be the music for a mission. There is a very early mission set to the Kanye West song “Power” that is fantastic. Not to mention a later mission that I would rather leave as a surprise should you pick up the game.
The only multi-player in Saints Row: The Third is co-op. You can either play through every mission in the game co-op or you can play the “Whored Mode” which isn’t really all that fun, but if you need something to waste time with, it will do. The general open-world nonsense is what really makes the multi-player fun. Just causing havoc and trying to kill each other in high-speed chases with a friend is fun.
Overall Saints Row: The Third is the best open world game I’ve played this year. It takes a totally different tone than most current games and focuses mostly on just making missions that are both fun to play and funny to watch. The gun-play and driving mechanics both feel more solid than Grand Theft Auto IV and there are very few filler missions there to pad out the game. This does lead to a shorter game, but a much more enjoyable one.
out of 10
- Funny and consistently exciting missions
- Crude sense of humor sets it apart from other open world games
- The gun play and driving feel solid
- The crude sense of humor won’t appeal to everyone
- “Whored Mode” isn’t especially exciting