Review by rubicon14
Short and Sweet
SAINTS ROW THE THIRD REVIEW
Saints Row: The Third (SR3) is a short, simple, and very fun game that is sure to please fans of this series, fans of the Grand Theft Auto series, and people who generally like sandbox or shooting games. It's shorter than the original Saints Row, but what is lost in quantity is more than made up for in quality, as SR3 packs a lot of fun and entertainment into a smaller package. Unlike its competitors SR3 doesn't try to pad the length of the game with boring or pointless tedium like fetch quests and escort missions - it starts off in high gear and only gets faster from there.
The graphics are nothing to write home about, and are what you would expect in a sandbox-city game. SR3 is not as detailed or polished as detailed as GTA:IV, but it's not trying to be. SR3 is going for a less serious approach to the same type of game -- characters are intentionally over the top and ridiculous, as is the amount of mayhem and destruction you leave in your wake as you play through the campaign. I noticed a few glitches, but nothing game-breaking. The ability to customize clothing and vehicles is well done, allowing the player to easily and quickly change the look of their character, gang members, and vehicles without having to spend much time or resources. Voice acting is impressive considering this game feels like a B-movie version of a GTA game. I laughed out loud a few times during the cutscenes. Everything is straightforward, entertaining, and well-executed.
PLOT - NO SPOILERS
SR3 picks up where the previous SR game left off, leaving the player in charge of a group called the Saints which grew from a small-time street gang in the first game to a major media/brand corporation by the start of the third game. The Saints have gone from dealing drugs to producing movies, music and clothing, and own towers instead of townhouses, and you take on rival gangs and the government as you try to survive and thrive as the kingpin of this gang-turned-media-empire. It's much more lighthearted than GTA games, and the plot is more like a cheesy action flick than a heavy handed mafia movie.
SR3 plays just like the other Saints Row games and other GTA games. You have access to lots of weapons and vehicles, play missions, explore side missions and other achievements, all in a sandbox style world where you do what you want when you want to do it.
From very early in the game you'll have access to heavy firepower and fast cars, and your missions will involve mostly shooting enemies and racing to objectives. It's simple, generally easy (only the highest difficulty setting provides a challenge, and is still easier than the default difficulty in most games), and loads of fun. Unlike many games where the initial quests are like a tutorial, and only have you fetch an item or meet a person or fight a weak enemy, in SR3 it takes very little time to get used to the basics and into large-scale action. Because you have access to powerful weapons and fast cars early on, and they only get better as the game progresses, every time you do get a new gun or vehicle you feel like a kid getting a new toy.
I really enjoyed the access to aircraft in SR3. In GTA games helicopters are hard to get and usually are limited to certain missions or are rewards for completing difficult missions, and they aren't always easy to fly. In SR3, you get access to helicopters very early, and as the game progresses you even get to fly armed VTOL craft, which are a lot of fun and really add to the sense that the game is your sandbox.
The pace is fast, though sometimes too fast. The side-missions are standard fare (shoot this guy, steal that car, find this hidden crate, etc.) so the real fun is in advancing the campaign, but it's short. I enjoyed how quickly and consistently the action escalated, but if I had known how short the game was I would have slowed down a bit, since waiting until the end of the campaign to play side missions makes them very boring by comparison. Like an adrenaline rush, the experience is intense but brief.
SR3 is definitely worth a rental or a discount purchase. It will keep you entertained for a few days. It's not a revolutionary game or even a masterpiece, but it's not trying to be. It's trying to be a game where you to blow up a lot of stuff. It's trying to be fun. It's trying to be funny. And it succeeds.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Saints Row (US, 08/29/06)
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