On The Road
As you would expect from a Saints Row game, there are a vast range of vehicles that you can buy, steal and modify. These range from high speed police cars, to motorbikes, street sweepers, fire trucks and aeroplanes. In keeping with the general spirit of chaos and abandon, you can also get your hands on some futuristic technology, such as a TRON style motorcycle, a hoverbike, and my personal favourite, the 8-bit tank. These vehicles can be stored at your crib, and taken out whenever you want. In addition, a quick phone call can bring a chosen vehicle to you, wherever you are in the city. This is a really neat touch, and the option to instantly call up a VTOL jet, fly across the city, and free fall to your chosen destination beautifully highlights the emphasis on fun over realism in Saints Row: The Third.
Sightseeing in Steelport
Driving and walking around the city of Steelport feels great, with a variety of characters hanging out on each street corner, and nearly endless possibilities for causing mayhem. Taking to the skies, however, the game loses some of its charm, particularly in terms of visual fidelity. When up in the air, much of the graphical detail gets removed from the game, and this is quite noticeable, to the point where cars will instantly pop out of view if you fly above a certain altitude. When you are left looking at just skyscrapers, you will also notice that the visuals can be a little rough around the edges, with the city itself having a slightly cloudy feel to it.
Some of the helicopter sequences also seem a little forced, as if playing out a pre-rendered scene and doing what the game wants you to do, rather than directly controlling events yourself. This seems more noticeable during some of the earlier missions, one of which I replayed several times, finding that the choppers appeared to explode in identical places each time, so long as I was shooting in their general direction.
The whole package
Saints Row: The Third is fundamentally a single player experience, with the main campaign clocking in at around 15 to 20 hours. In addition, there is also an option to play through the campaign online with a friend. When playing in co-op, the host controls the main story, with only side missions and unlocks carrying through to the visiting player’s game. It is great fun to team up with a buddy, grab some vehicles and goof around, but it never feels essential to have that back-up when playing through the story missions. It is lucky that there is so much else to do in the game, besides following the story, as it makes the co-op feature one that is definitely worth exploring.
The final addition to the package is the much discussed Whored Mode. Yes, you read that right. Whored mode takes you through waves of enemies, either solo or in co-op, with each round offering a new twist, to keep you on your toes, and keep the madness coming. At times you may find yourself playing through a drunken stupor, facing off against an army of dildo-wielding gimps, or battling as a miniscule version of yourself. While Whored Mode is initially entertaining, with its low difficulty level and rounds that can sometimes be over in seconds, the fun wears off a little quicker than perhaps it should.
Saints Row: The Third plays like a twisted love letter to video game culture. Volition has created a game in perhaps the purest sense of the word, in which the player is free to explore and have fun, without being forced to replicate any of the mundanities of real life. With some outstanding action sequences, a huge variety of weapons and vehicles, and a craziness that can outdo any other game around, Volition has definitely delivered the goods, despite a few niggles. While Saints Row: The Third is not likely to win any ‘Game of The Year’ awards, I can safely say that it provided me with more genuine fun that any other title this year. That can only be a good thing, and I am giving Saints Row: The Third 82 out of 100.