Saints Row: The Third or, as I will refer to it from here on out, SR3 is the third game in the Saints Row series so it’s appropriately named. It is also the first game in the series that I played. I do own the first two games and have put time into them but they didn’t capture me like SR3 did, but that’s probably because SR3 feels like a complete departure. While the first two games felt, to me at least, like self-aware GTA clones with a sense of humor about themselves, SR3 is just a wacky open world game that is best experienced than explained.
So what sets SR3 apart from the GTA series and why am I even talking about it. Well you first realize that you are playing a special type of game when you discover there is a button mapped for crotch shots. Yup, there is a button where the sole purpose is kicking or punching people in the nuts. Additionally you can sprint towards a person and unleash a flying wresting move on them at will. It never gets old, at least I never tired of it.
The game centers around the Third Street Saints once they have risen to fame and fortune. They have their own brand of clothing, energy drinks and license themselves out to comics and movies. As it goes, there are people who see them as a threat and want to bring them down. What ensues is a ridiculous adventure that has you driving, flying, skydiving, wearing furry costumes, going nude, rescuing an auto-tune talking pimp as well as a naked giant. If that does not seem weird enough, then you should jump in and see all the other weird things you get to experience. It’s almost as if the development team had meetings and anytime someone said “Wouldn’t it be funny if….” it made it into the game. And that is not a bad thing. I have played through the game a number of times and did so again for the purpose of this article and it was still a blast.
At the game’s core lies what is essentially a GTA clone but it does a lot of things right. First off the driving is done very well, the cars handle great and have a very arcade-like feel to them. They do not feel realistic at all which is great, hell the game has what is essentially a drift on command button. I feel GTAIV tried to get too realistic with its driving physics and it was a shit show. SR3 is a joy to drive in. I will add that for some reason the driving felt better on the Xbox 360 than the PC. Not sure what the reason is, but I felt that the vehicles were more responsive on the console.
The combat is the best I’ve seen in a GTA clone. I covered the melee a little already but your main character, which you design at the beginning, feels very good to use. The hand to hand combat is fun, feels satisfying and also has an arcade style feel to it. The gun fighting is good as well with a huge assortment of firearms. Even though the game has been out for years I won’t spoil the selection of weapons as some of them get pretty crazy. But of course there are the standard handguns and automatic weapons too which feel great.
As you progress and rank up you can unlock upgrades and by the end of the game, depending on your choices, you can become completely invincible. I don’t just mean overpowered, literally invincible. It’s up to you how you spend your in-game money on upgrades but the option to be 100% unstoppable is there if you choose to go down that route, but you have to be a very high level to finally unlock that. Typically you will have completed the main story by then.
While I had glowing things to say about GTAV, SR3 stands as my favorite open world game. In my eyes it does everything right and even still looks great, especially on PC. My favorite aspect of the game is the writing. It filled with smart, clever jokes with a mix of toilet humor sprinkled in as well. Each time I play the game I am completely entertained. I also love the voice acting. I always play as a female because of Laura Bailey, her voice acting is perfect and adds a lot to the main character. To be fair, I will play any game in which she is a voice actress, she’s very good.
The game also includes a lot of small touches that go a long way. You can walk up to anyone and either say something kind, dance or otherwise greet them. You can also insult them if you want which is usually hilarious. You can vary up the things you say and do as well, although not on the fly. It includes many different stores where you can customize your character’s look and there seems to be no shortage of options available. The character creator is near Mass Effect level in terms of how deep you can customize their look. Additionally it includes a real estate mechanic where you buy properties to gain control of districts and in turn you earn money from them. It’s not something to skip either, you can earn a significant amount of money from it.
If you have not yet traveled the streets of Steelport then there is never a better time. It’s very cheap on Xbox 360 and PS3 as well as PC. I would recommend the PC version as the DX11 version is noticeably better looking than the console versions but you can’t go wrong either way. I first played it on the 360 and had no complaints. Whichever platform you choose, make sure you keep using that one if you decide to play SR4 and Gat Out of Hell afterwards since you can import your character into the later games, but not cross-platform. Unfortunately the later two games are not near as good as SR3 in my opinion but are still worth a look. SR4 in particular has a lot of very funny moments, but the atmosphere is very dark and gloomy which, after a while, lost its effect and made the game less enjoyable for me.
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know what you think below and have a great day!