Saints Row: The Third Review

Chad Goodmurphy

Reviewed by:
On November 15, 2011
Last modified:September 6, 2018


To say that Saints Row: The Third is unique would be an understatement. In fact, it's one of the most creative and outrageous games on the market

Saints Row: The Third Review

Following violent and outrageous successes, the Third Street Saints are riding high. Not only have they become filthy rich, but celebrity status has also been bestowed upon the purple-wearing gang. With the notoriety, energy drink deals and licensed stores have followed, along with a hilarious line of Japanese commercials. Needless to say, things are going extremely well for the pistol-toting thugs, but all good things have to end. The unfortunate fault found within the group is its greed and inherent lack of competency. Instead of being happy with fame and fortune, they’re still interested in reaching for new heights. Well, to be exact, the best term to use would be new heists.

At the beginning of Saints Row: The Third – the series’ latest release from developer Volition, Inc. – the Saints are once again up to no good. Having planned a large-scale bank robbery, a group of several high-ranking members are attempting to the idea out. This seems like something the fictional group would have no problem succeeding at, which is true. However, things are seemingly too easy. In reality, the bank is owned by a powerful super criminal, who has entrusted his tellers with firearm training and powerful ammunition. Once again, the Saints’ penchant for overlooking important details, will screw them over. Playing as a meticulously created custom avatar, players must help their allies survive the lead-based onslaught in slightly exaggerated fashion.

It’s those poorly planned events at the fancy bank which set the tone for the hilarious and parody-filled set pieces within the game’s campaign storyline. You see; not only did the group rob a well-armed bank, but the person they attempted to steal from is the leader of a criminal conglomerate known as the Syndicate. Comprised of a few creative and varied gangs, it’s certainly a group which one should never cross. Unfortunately, it’s too late for our bumbling main characters, whose minds are filled with greed and heist movie scenarios.

After being caught red-handed and captured for interrogation purposes, the team managed to escape. Despite this ultimate success, they’ve landed in a new town known as Steelport, having lost their leader (Johnny Gat) and their millions, in the process. It’s a riches to rags storyline, with the hope that the downtrodden will rise back up again. The attempt is all in the memory of their lost compatriot, though greed and anger certainly do factor in.

In a three-act campaign which is full of over-the-top action, gamers will get the chance to take revenge on the terrible three who make up the dastardly Syndicate. It’s a storyline ripped straight out of an absurd adult cartoon, comprised of outrageous content, visceral sexual humour and lots of guns. The content found within this game disc (or install file) is hard to explain in words – it’s that absurd and unbelievably weird. If you’ve been looking for something off the beaten path, with lots of game time and tons of creative elements, then this game is certainly ripe for your picking.

Before the rise from ashes occurs, a trip to the Initiation Station is in the cards. That would be the fancy word used to describe Saints Row: The Third‘s incredible character creation system. Those looking to shoot things up as either gender will be pleased to find an unbelievable amount of customizable depth and quality within this menu. There’s even stuff for those who’d like to try to be something in-between, as you’re only limited by your imagination. Individual visual assets can be meticulously sculpted, although the best treats are further down the list. Not only is there one voice for each gender, but Volition, Inc. have gone the extra mile to include a few unique voices for each class. Not only that, but players can choose from a bevy of hilarious and disgusting taunts and cheer dances.

For the uninitiated, Saints Row: The Third is an open-world sandbox game in the vein of Grand Theft Auto. Steelport is a large and varied town, which has something for everyone, including a thriving downtown and some interesting hidden areas. Using stolen vehicles, powerful weaponry and some high-grade army technology, the Saints must take up arms against those who oppress them. It’s a pressing matter in spirit and story, though lengthy detours can be made in order to take part in various activities, or to just have fun causing chaos. Volition has crafted a world which is ultimately your digital oyster, with tons of things to do. You can try to take over every inch of its gang turf, buy all of its vacant properties and for sale businesses, or goof off in outrageous ways. Along the way, it’s important to upgrade character and crew stats, along with each gang stronghold’s features.

Unlike its competitors, the team behind the Saints Row series isn’t afraid to take controversial risks. They’ve evidently done a lot of thinking outside of the box, throwing everything but the kitchen sink into this passion project. Its campaign alone could be considered a content-filled affair, but there’s much more. In the story mode, gamers can look forward to flying jets, high-speed chases, third-person shootouts and the opportunity to turn zombies into mush. That list is missing some specific details and in-depth descriptors about some of the game’s best set-pieces, as it’d be a shame to spoil them.

Since the series’ onset, mini-game style activities have been one of its more interesting features. Returning favourites make their mark in Saints Row: The Third, with some new additions joining the roster. There are around fifty-six different activities to tackle, alongside forty-seven campaign missions. These secondary gameplay options provide a nice detour and change of pace from the main game, with lots of variety and creativity to be found. If you’re feeling the need for speed, then why not put on a flame retardant suit in order to ride an invincible ATV in a time limited course? Or, if being a limo driver is more your style, then do your best to avoid the paparazzi while high-priced escorts entertain their clients. Those are just two examples from the lengthy list of activities that this game boasts, with insurance fraud accident attempts, carnage challenges and Tron-esque hacking races also included.

Tying in with the theme of absurdity which is strewn throughout the game’s world, is its new game show element. Referred to as Professor Genki’s Super Ethical Reality Climax, the violent arena game is a score and time-based affair. The playable Saint must make his or her way through electrified traps and enemy-filled rooms, in order to get to the exit door before time runs out. Points are earned for shooting cardboard cut-outs depicting criminals, plus shooting actual baddies. As expected, they always shoot back, so taking cover occasionally becomes a priority. This activity is as fun as it sounds, with different difficulty levels to choose from. This challenge structure is also utilized by the other activity offerings.

To say that Saints Row: The Third has an abundant amount of creativity and content would be an understatement. Two friends can tackle the hilarious campaign and its pop culture cliches and homages together, while doing their best to cause as much chaos as they can. Once the relatively lengthy story segment is over with, things are only just beginning. With all of the aforementioned content at your fingertips, it’ll be easy to get lost within Steelport for close to twenty hours, if not more. Extra time can be added to that estimate if valiant searches for hidden sex dolls, drug packages, shortcuts and super jumps are on the menu.

Adding extra content to the package is Whored Mode. A slightly obtuse take on Gears of War‘s horde mode, this separate game type is an experimental sandbox for the design team. Those folks obviously went to great lengths to manipulate certain gameplay factors, enemy designs and appearances, in order to make this mode stand out from the pack. Waves of continuously different creations will come at you, with occasional height and size differences. Want to fight a giant enemy or quickly take out a large group of two foot tall zombies? It can be done in Whored Mode, with the use of some incredibly efficient weaponry.

It’s been publicly stated that the developers behind this incredibly adult take on sandbox action, were going for fun as opposed to realism. Their noted aim to create one of gaming’s most enjoyable sandbox titles was a success. Although Saints Row: The Third isn’t a perfect game, with some noticeable glitches and rough edges popping up, it’s unlike anything else out there. This deviation from the norm, alongside very fun gameplay elements, makes it easy to overlook the title’s more minor faults. You’ll notice the odd artificial intelligence issue, some animation glitches and a lot of pop-in while driving at high-speeds. Those things, along with screen tearing and a few mediocre missions, are certainly there. The thing is that you’ll be having so much fun that you won’t really care about them.

During my lengthy time spent exploring the colourful world of Steelport and its seedy underbelly, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud quite often. The writing here is absolutely hilarious, with many dashes of absurdity added into its recipe. To put it bluntly; there’s nothing like Saints Row: The Third. Comical issues, strange occurrences and absurd developments are par for the course here. Plus, there’s a rather unexpected celebrity camo to look forward to. Pick this one up for its quality gameplay as well as its well-written storyline.

Aesthetically speaking, Saints Row: The Third is a colourful comic book-style sandbox. Sure, the skyline looks quite realistic and some of the street level environments do as well, but the inner heart of the city is oozing with vivid imagery. Neon lights, detailed boroughs and incredibly graphic content, make up the game’s interesting home. Inhabiting the digital metropolis is a strange concoction of people, made up of different ethnic backgrounds and cultural cliques. This carries over into the included enemy gang designs, as the Saints’ opponents come in creatively varied shapes, sizes and outfits. Their individual bases and related missions end up going into offbeat territory, where the game’s core look is occasionally altered to suit the scripted action. There’s a ton of visual variety to be found due to those intermittent changes, though its graphical output tends to look a bit dated.

Earlier on, we briefly discussed the rather robust voice acting options presented to the player. I chose to go with a gruff British accent for my manly and realistic-looking gangster. Of course, there are options for those who love the absurd. Your created character’s voice acting is presented alongside a good supporting cast, which isn’t afraid to go out on a limb with some very lewd content. The title’s featured sound effects are just as diverse and occasionally veer toward the gutter. Then again, that happens to be par for the course with this series.

One of my favourite Saints Row: The Third features is admittedly a minor one, though its addition was something I very much appreciated. By going to the music tab on the in-game smartphone, one can set-up his or her own mix tape. It’s easy to pick and choose songs from the game’s incredibly varied and robust soundtrack, which has something for just about everyone. Perhaps the only genres missing are easy listening and country, which makes sense considering the game’s target audience. Different forms of rock, metal, rap and classical music are available. The lengthy list of arrtists found on the Saints Row: The Third soundtrack include Motley Crue, Kanye West, Opeth, Adam Ant, Marilyn Manson and (a personal favourite), the Deftones. Songs from certain artists will play during missions, proving that music is an integral part of the whole experience.

To say that Saints Row: The Third is unique would be an understatement. In fact, it’s one of the most creative and outrageous games on the market. Fans of open world sandbox games will have a blast with its innovative missions and vulgar humour, sticking around for its relatively polished mechanics and interesting storyline. The latest entry in the popular series is an experience alongside an interactive game, providing a lot of entertainment. If you have a strong stomach, this one is for you. Don’t miss out on one of gaming’s most colourful titles.

This review is based on an Xbox 360 copy of the game that we received for review purposes.

Saints Row: The Third Review

To say that Saints Row: The Third is unique would be an understatement. In fact, it's one of the most creative and outrageous games on the market