Reviewed: November 16, 2011
Released: November 15, 2011
Saints Row The Third is high-octane insanity from the minute you start. With the Third Street Saints in control of Ultor, they've become a world-famous franchise, with movies, clothing stores, and energy drinks under their umbrella. When a bank heist goes wrong and a rival gang tries for a hostile takeover, though, the Saints are left to build their empire again in the city of Steelport. Really, though, all that means is a setup for the kind of mayhem that Grand Theft Auto's left behind, and Saints Row The Third shows that it's ready to fill those shoes.|
Really, it's hard to talk about this game in any sort of appropriate way. When everything that happens is incredibly over the top, and half of it shoves at the boundaries of what can be said in polite society, it's practically impossible to dance around. That said, it's also incredibly memorable. Whether you're escaping from a bondage club on a gimp-drawn chariot, doing Face/Off-style antics to infiltrate the military, or fighting off hordes of zombies at the behest of Burt Reynolds, Saints Row The Third's story mode is based entirely around devising some of the most bizarre scenarios ever in a video game, and it pulls them off excellently. Along the way, you fight decadent europeans, 1980s-style cyberpunk hackers, and luchadores, with some surprise guests coming in midway through the game in order to keep things fresh, and as you play, you get choices about how you handle the factions you defeat that determine the kind of toys that the game gives you.
The madness doesn't end when the story mode does, though. Compared to the freeform rampages of games gone past, Saints Row The Third gives the player some of the best toys I've ever seen. With guns that take remote control of vehicles, brainwash enemies, fire blasts of force intense enough to throw cars or pulp human flesh, there's plenty to play with. And that's not even counting tanks with laser machine guns, fire-breathing vans with Johnny Gat's face, jetbikes with gatling guns, man-cannons that let you scoop up pedestrians and shoot them into the air, and numerous other motorized engines of destruction. Saints Row The Third might well be the perfect sandbox game.
If you're looking for something a little more structured, Saints Row The Third includes a huge number of minigames, ranging from driving around the city trying to keep a tiger in your car pacified to insurance fraud, where you turn on ragdoll physics in order to smash yourself up as much as you can and win stacks of cash. The most impressive minigame might be Professor Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax, where you sprint through derelict warehouses filled with anime-styled targets and thugs in mascot costumes, trying to get combo kill chains in order to bump your winnings up and unlock the exit, all as game show announcers narrate your progress.
For a game with such a focus on spectacle, it would be reasonable to assume that the presentation is fantastic, and you'd be right. The animations are smooth, the graphics are crisp, and the soundtrack is used amazingly well. Whether you're just cruising around town listening to the radio, leaping out of a helicopter to raid a penthouse as Power by Kanye West plays or cutting luchadores apart with a chainsaw in a wrestling arena to the tune of You're the Best from the Karate Kid soundtrack, Saints Row The Third knows how to handle liscenced music.
Saints Row The Third never lets up, and that's to its credit. As someone who always shelved his free-roaming crime games once I ran through the plot, Saints Row The Third is the first sandbox game to keep my attention once it's done. And with more DLC on the way, it looks like it's going to have an incredible amount of staying power.