Review by link4824

"Taking mindless mayhem to a whole new level...and you thought I couldn't get any worse."

It's probably safe to say that there are two strong competitors in the modern open world mission based adventure game genre: Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto and THQ's Saints Row. Needless to say, these two games have spurred up quite a bit on controversy due to their limitless gameplay, a controversy that has really only strengthened their sales figures. And while these two games are both solid competitors on the same genre, they are, at the same time, so different. In recent years, Grand Theft Auto has taken a much more realistic (yet still immature) turn while Saints Row picked up the mindless, physics-defying carnage Rockstar left behind, leaving two very different play styles for open world fans to enjoy. And I must say, as a fan of the open world mission based adventure game genre, I've come to love both games equally. But today, we focus on THQ's latest entry, Saints Row: The Third.

Story
Saints Row: The Third takes place an undisclosed time in the future. You once again assume the role of the unnamed protagonist of the first two games, leading the crime-driven street gang, The 3rd Street Saints. In the gap between the end Saints Row 2 and the start of The Third, the Saints have turned their city-wide street gang into a full on celebrity status; everyone in Stilwater wears Saints brand clothing, they drink the Saints brand energy drink and they talk highly of the gang's upcoming sci-fi movie Gangstas in Space. Eventually, all of this media grabs the attention of a group called The Syndicate based in the neighboring city of Steelport; The Syndicate wants to expand into Stilwater, and that just doesn't sit well with the Saints. So like all reasonable insane gang leaders, you take the fight to Steelport to show that nobody messes with the Saints.

Gameplay
If you played Saints Row and Saints Row 2, then prepare yourself for something relaxingly different. While the story is still mission based as before, The Third grants you much more freedom, namely that Respect is no longer required to progress the story. The previous two games required you to gather an appropriate amount of Respect to begin a mission. To earn Respect, you were tasked with completing activities and diversions such as Mayhem or Insurance Fraud. This is not the case anymore.

The Third allows you to begin any mission no matter the amount of respect you've gathered. Furthermore, you can start any mission at any time, and I mean any time, by use of the in game cell phone. Want to progress the story? Great! Just select Missions on your phone and choose the one you want to start.

And don't fear! Just because Activities aren't required anymore doesn't mean they aren't littered all over Steelport as well. Players are treated to old favorites like Heli Assualt, Snatch and Trafficking. And, of course, The Third introduces two new ways to cause chaos like Tank Mayhem, which is exactly what is written on the box, and Professor Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax, which has a run and gun obstacle course style.

So there's all these awesome Activities in Steelport that earn you Respect and money. But now that you don't need Respect for missions, what's the point of it all? The answer: upgrades.

Saints Row: The Third takes the game on a little tangent by incorporating a very basic role-playing game element. As you earn Respect through missions and Activites, you'll notice your Respect level increasing. As you level-up, you'll gain access to a variety of upgrades for your character, perks like more ammo capacity, faster health regeneration, notoriety modifiers and follower upgrades. These upgrades unlock at specified levels and require in-game money to apply.

Money is also used to purchase businesses and venues, which, when owned, increase the amount of money you earn every in-game hour (which is collected about every twenty minutes through your phone). You can also use this income to purchase upgrades for specific weapons, things like larger clips, increased accuracy and incendiary or shock mods. All of this is added on top of the traditional car mods and clothing you can purchase to customize your gameplay.

Controls in The Third are nearly identical to its predecessors. The weapons wheel makes its return, this time replacing the food slots with grenades and similar throwables. This means no more instant healing items are available in times of need meaning a more conservative gameplay.

Co-op mode makes a triumphant return to Saints Row as well, allowing you and a friend to take over Steelport together. It functions similarly to Saints Row 2's co-op; there are no significant changes to missions or activities outside of a higher difficulty to accommodate two players. It still remains one of the most enjoyable co-op game experiences I've ever had the pleasure of playing.

Making a debut in Saints Row: The Third is a new game type called Whored Mode, a survival mini-game where you're tasked with defending yourself against wave after wave of enemies while your weapons change and the physics are altered as you progress. It's a nice addition, but you could quickly find yourself quitting after a handful of repetitive waves.

Graphics
Saints Row: The Third has nothing to brag about in terms of graphics. They're just as beautiful as Saints Row 2, leaving Steelport with a bright, yet grimy appearance that suits the game just perfectly: not too realistic, yet not too primative.

Audio
As far as a soundtrack goes, Saints Row: The Third does not disappoint. There's a wide variety of music available on the in-game radio, ranging from hip-hop to techno to 80's pop to a station devoted entirely to Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. I think it would be safe to wager there's something for everyone. The game even goes so far as to incorporate select songs into missions to add a little suspense, which I must say only made these mission more tense and enjoyable.

The Verdict
Don't miss this experience

Saints Row: The Third everything you'd expect from a modern open world mission based adventure game. Seasoned Saints Row players will feel right at home with this new installment while new players can enjoy a whole new way to experience mindless destruction. From the moment you select New Game to minute the credits roll, you'll be hooked, unwilling to put the controller down for any reason. But with only a handful of features to keep you coming back, once you hit the end and wreak havoc on an unsuspecting Steelport, you may find yourself shelving the game until your next stress-relieving video game killing spree.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/29/11

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


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