Developer: Volition, Inc.
Age rating: M for mature
Platforms: Micrososft windows, Playstation 3, Xbox 360
Review platform: Xbox 360
I had heard great things about the Saints Row series and was therefore happy to pre-order a copy of Saints Row: The Third. I have played this game through several times and, thanks to a game changing choice system, each and every play through was unique as well as being just as fun as the last. My initial thoughts on the game were these: “Saints Row: The Third is basically Grand Theft Auto on drugs”. To tell you the truth, that’s pretty spot on.
The Third Street Saints have come a long way from the last game, they now own a media empire, and are in the process of creating a film. The game starts with a simple bank robbery; something the Third Street Saints have become fairly accustomed to. This time they are taking the lead in their new film along with Josh Birk. It’s usually a quick job: walk in, pronounce the intentions to steal the money, take the money and walk out. However, today that isn’t going to happen. The player takes control of the head of the crime organisation and proceeds to rob the bank (unfortunately today’s bankers put up a fight) and the player experiences their first taste of the combat system – which quite frankly is very smooth. After a quick fight the saints move up to the penultimate floor of the building and search for the vault. Josh presses a button assuming it will open the vault. Instead he alerts the police to the robbery. The Saints try to airlift the vault out of the bank via helicopter but, with the S.W.A.T. hot on their tail, they are soon incarcerated.
Members of a rival gang – the Syndicate – release the Saints from jail and invite them to talk with their boss, Phillipe Loren. Phillipe tries to bargain with the saints, he offers them their lives for two thirds of their revenue, but naturally the Saints refuse. They then make an escape out of the back of the plane (It’s at this point that the player will receive their first taste of insanity) a mid air gunfight, between the saints and the enemy gang members, commences. When the player manages to land they are in Steelport, a city akin to New York. The saints have their entire bank account stripped clean and all assets removed. The player has a fresh start in a new city and they have to rebuild their empire. With an impressive storyline and some crazy missions, this game can develop in a number of different ways. Unfortunately, rival gangs and a special police force are going to be standing in your way.
The aim of the long term game is to own every part of Steelport (this includes buying shops) which increases hourly income. Doing mini-game missions such as mayhem (in which the player tries to do as much damage as possible to the city) also earns you money. This does get a little irritating as it can get very repetitive. Another game-mode is: Whored mode. This intuitive wave-based game is best played with a friend; the player attempts to stay alive, for as long as possible, while fighting everything from a fifty foot stripper to an army of dwarven gimps.
I had a great time playing through the story, watching as each of my decisions influenced the play-through and deciding the fate of certain characters right at the end of the game (which was my favorite part).
The combat system, as I’ve said, is very smooth. With a fair choice of pistols and rifles and four types of explosive, there is a weapon for every occasion. These weapons can be upgraded at gun shops all over Steelport. Each upgrade adds something new to the gun; a scope, a drum magazine or a silencer. These upgrades make for a good choice of weapon customisation.
The player’s avatar is massively customisable. To implement customisation the player must go to an “Image As Designed” shop (this is like a plastic surgeon). You can edit your body shape, your face and muscle to fat ratio. Also, if the player goes to one of the many clothes shops around the city, a massive range of clothing can be bought for the player to wear. That clothing includes everything from a formal suit, to casual jeans and a hoodie, to a bondage outfit or even a monkey costume.
The graphics are surprisingly attractive for an Xbox game, although I am sure they would be much improved on the PC. I spotted very few bugs and those that I did spot were minor (such as a gang member getting caught inside a wall or an AI car driving through a lamppost).
I highly recommend giving this game a play-through yourself. It’s well worth the fifteen quid that you can buy it for now. Thanks for reading!