Review by Cam424

"Yeah, I get it. It's supposed to be over-the-top."

Whether you love it or hate it, it's easy to see that the Saints Row series has become a juggernaut in the open world genre of video games. Over the span of five years, the series has grown from an awkward GTA clone to an awkward GTA 1/2 clone to simply a veritable orgy of failed h

Saints Row: The Third is easily the most fun and enjoyable in the series, however the game is severely lacking to the point where one can feel confused as to why it was hyped up.

==(Plot & Presentation) - 5/10==
From the get-go, one can realize that Saints Row isn't about gripping character development or making players look at the game from a serious, artistic perspective. With that said, the plot behind Saints Row: The Third is very simple and gets the job done. The game takes place several years after the events of its predecessor, and the once up-and-coming Third St. Saints have become an international brand, complete with a chain of stores, an energy drink, feature films, and clothes/accessories that exist both in the game's canon and in the real world. All isn't well for the Saints, though. An equally famous street gang called The Syndicate are out to extinguish the Saints' flame and become popular. This proves to be quite the predicament once the Saints find themselves (literally) falling from the sky and landing in a strange new city with all new gangs and locales to conquer. That's about it in terms of story. Everything else is expected and predictable, albeit with some fun paradigm shifts toward the end which take the game from kind-of silly to really crazy,

A story this mediocre needs to be redeemed with characters that are memorable and entertaining, right? Well, just like the plot, Saints Row: The Third has that covered...but not really. One can sense a pattern already emerging. This game features some familiar faces from its predecessors in addition to entirely new characters. Returning characters are virtually the same as before, but with minor changes in physical appearance. The protagonist is still a snarky, wisecracking hero, Shaundi is the quintessential ho-bag, and all of the others are for all intents and purposes the exact same. New characters include an excitable yet cowardly actor, an Eastern European gentle giant, a might-be-autistic IT expert, and countless scowling antagonists. The boring roster of characters is redeemed by some funny and self-referential humor that almost breaks the fourth wall. One of the few spots Saints Row: The Third shines is its writing and voice acting. Still awkward and unfunny, the game features some top-notch voice work and attempts at comedy that acknowledge how the series has missed the point many times, but still remains silly and careless anyway. All of the game's humor seems to be exhausted within the first two hours of gameplay.

The centerpiece of this game is the new setting of Steelport. Based off of a myriad of Eastern-American cities, Steelport offers players a slightly larger, varied experience. Steelport offers large, high-tech skyscrapers, slums, suburbs, a military base, and even a small, cozy 'lil red light district. Even though the city's changed, it might as well should have been a remodeled Stilwater. Just like its predecessor, Steelport doesn't really feel unique or "alive" in many aspects. Unlike other open world games where the player feels like they are a part of some large, wild worlds, the blandness of Steelport gives the impression that the player is one of maybe 200 residents.

Not much can be said about how Saints Row: The Third is presented, other than the fact that it's just a little different; that's all.

==(Gameplay) - 9/10==
Saints Row's main draw is the fact that players can participate in a plethora of crazy ,wild activities. Saints Row: The Third offers all of the familiar fan favorites but also has a few new tricks up its sleeve which make the game very fun to play. Just like every other city-themed sandbox game, Saints Row: The Third has players driving cars, operating boats, flying planes, shooting people, and all the other fundamentals. Where this game breaks the norm is how every small aspect is given its own little unique style. Cars in the game look very exaggerated from their potential real-life counterparts, and drive in an even more exaggerated way. Players can customize streetsweepers and garbage trucks to have nitro, neon, and ridiculously-tacky spoilers on them. Weapons range from the traditional baseball bat to a humongous toy fist, a TRON-inspired laser rifle, and countless others. The fun doesn't end at free roaming, too. Many activities let players speed around town with a wild tiger sitting next to them, driving prostitutes to and from clients, hurling themselves at (literally) break-neck speed for insurance fraud, and my personal favorite, participate in a macabre Japanese game show that makes them kill people wearing colorful animal costumes.

With that said, Saints Row: The Third features a lot of changes. There's a level-up system that allows players to customize weapons to make them more powerful and over-the-top, as well as little upgrade perks that can make players stronger, faster, and more god-like in the concrete jungle of Steelport. This game lacks online multiplayer support, but makes up for it with a new feature that pits players against hordes of "colorful" enemies, for lack of a more polite term. Just like its predecessors, Saints Row: The Third aims to take the conventional sandbox game formula and turn it up to 11, and it works quite well.

==(Graphics) - 7/10==
The allure of Saints Row has never been its graphical prowess, though Saints Row: The Third does feature an improved engine with some subtle quirks that make the game beautiful in some aspects, but God-awfully ugly in others. Starting with a technical standpoint, SR: The Third is a fairly mediocre-looking game. It employees basic post-processing effects seen in almost every other title, and doesn't really go above and beyond the proverbial call of duty when it comes to impressive polygon counts or high-quality textures. The game uses motion blur and different graphical overlays in creative ways, and features a very subtle effect that gives windows and storefronts for buildings a sense of depth. Still, the game isn't going to win any awards for its looks.

From an artistic standpoint, Saints Row: The Third seems to be a mish-mash of different styles that adds up to an experience that might not sit well with graphics aficionados. Due to the game's self-proclaimed over-the-top nature, it uses a more cartoony art style to portray the characters, vehicles, and objects. Everything down to the user interface looks very quirky and fun, however the game's setting looks 100% serious. Textures, building models, and other elements of the game don't match up with everything else, resulting in a look that's confusing and not homogeneous.

==(Sound) - 7/10==
Not much can be said about the sound in this game other than focusing on the licensed soundtrack. Some sound effects are recycled and reused ad nauseum, but other than that, the game's sound isn't shoddy at all. Just like the previous two titles, Saints Row: The Third has many radio stations that have full, lengthy selections of music from many genres. Some of the music is somewhat well-known, with most being underground hits, cult classics, or presumably staff favorites. Nevertheless, the in-game soundtrack is good, but nothing special. Unlike a certain game franchise that focuses on making the in-game radio realistic and....radio-like, Saints Row: The Third's radio stations really feel like music playlists with some painfully-awkward DJ'ing between songs.

==(Overall) - 7/10==
There's really not much that can be said about Saints Row: The Third. It's exactly what it promises. A not-so-serious, wild experience that doesn't care about being the best, but just focuses on how much fun it can offer players. The game's main attraction, its humorous and over-the-top theme falls flat, as many of its jokes and attempts at stylizing itself either fail completely or just leave the player shaking their head in a mixture of disbelief and embarrassment on the developer's behalf. For lack of a better term, Saints Row: The Third is simply an "alright" game that happens to be the best in an "alright" series.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 11/29/11

Game Release: Saints Row: The Third (US, 11/15/11)


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