By Sarumarine 4 Comments
I've heard (often) that no one man should have all that power... So I took it to heart and made a female boss for my playthrough of Saints Row: The Third. I have an image of her below, but since I used the official Saints Row the Third website... image quality won't be great, but you'll get the idea.
You can't see it here, but she also has a bunch of scars on her face because she's seen some shit. I also picked the absolutely terrible and awesome Eastern Europe/Russian voice because it's so appropriate for everything that happens in this game. A few "comrades" get dropped here and there, but overall it's used pretty sparingly.
But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here.
Saints Row: The Third (The Official Game of Jeff Gerstmann's Giant Bomb Persona)
In a parallel to Dark Souls, I never played any of the previous Saints Row games. The most exposure I've had outside The Third was a demo of the first Saints Row on the X-Box. Early on it seemed like this series was after that Grand Theft Auto money, as the rule of business always seems to spawn competitors (or pretenders) whether it's a good idea or not. Thanks in no small part to the Giant Bombcast's running gag of "You should play Saints Row" and the promise of some crazy shit happening, I played through The Third. And if I had to stack it up against my recollection of Grand Theft Auto IV, I vastly prefer the off kilter world of Saints Row The Third and all the stupid shit they manage to get away with. Not mention their masterful use of licensed music stirring up fond memories of Short Circuit 2 and Karate Kid.
The major dividing line is that The Third has captured the essence of what brought me to the GTA series in the first place: unadulterated mayhem. GTA IV got a lot of play in my college dorm not for Niko Bellic's story, but simple endurance tests of how long each of us could run from the cops or survive on six stars. If we ever had to kill an hour or got bored, we would run from the cops ramping up construction sites, stealing poor getaway vehicles like garbage trucks and having last stand shootouts at city hall or the coastlines. And Saints Row The Third has that same vibe in a lot of different ways. A lot of very stupid, but very entertaining ways.
And just to be clear, this isn't a declaration of "GTA, never again!" but just an observation that they have become very different games. It will be interesting to see if GTA becomes too serious for its own good, or if Saints Row becomes too stupid for its own good. Or if a third franchise will appear and tackle some unknown middle ground between them.
Off With a Bang
This game has one of the strongest openings I've played in a long time. I feel like I always have to mention other people's opinions may vary... but one of my favorite flavors of action is vehicle disasters. Trains, planes, helicopters, cruise ships, etc. If it's destined to crash and burn, I am totally there. A gunfight in free fall after escaping a cargo plane and parachuting between loads and loads of cars and crates was awesome. Not to mention the bank heist before hand where you try to lift a vault out with a helicopter. I enjoyed the way they established all the characters caught up in the oncoming storyline of Saints vs. the Syndicate and all the crazy gang leaders they have. Where it goes from there can be hard to describe offhand. Somethings you just have to see for yourself.
And from there it doesn't really stop. This game's sense of escalation is probably my favorite part. In the first three missions you go and attack a national guard armory because "they have guns and we need guns." The often mentioned Predator Missile is one of the first weapons you get... and from there they just keep giving you stuff along the way. Every five or so missions you get a new gadget or vehicle or celebrity gang member to call in when you feel like it. Admittedly, some are more novel than useful... but the gun that lets you take remote control civilian vehicles while the drivers are still inside is one of my favorite things to do, even if it hardly ever sees use in gunfights.
Eventually you get to the point where you're fighting crazy futuristic government task forces, contractually obligated to fight zombies, and have the option to call in Burt Reynolds while you tear up a casino owned by Luchadors. If there is one thing Saints Row The Third can handle is the presentation until your reaction is something along the lines of "Ok, awesome. Let's go."
Barrels of Bullets and More So
Every gun you can get your hands on can be upgraded in some way. There are a few melee weapons that can't... but for all the bang bang and pew pew I feel like it has something for everyone. My personal favorite was the AK stand in that can be converted to a light machine gun with a grenade launcher that makes spraying down enemies a good time. Other guns get incendiary rounds, like a lever action shotgun (also one of my favorites). And I didn't notice until the very end of the game that you can upgrade your grenades too. The flashbang becomes a fart in a jar along the lines of Jarate from Team Fortress 2. Yup. Even the pistols are always useful considering one handgun is the only weapon in the game that can fire explosive rounds.
But of course my all time favorite activity in the entire game is what counts for melee combat. Wrestling moves. All you have to do is run up on a guy and hit the right trigger to launch into a flashy suplex or take down. There's a surprising number of variations so I never got tired of it. Some of the best involve leapfrogging a confused enemy and straight up punching them in the face. Or one where the boss shamelessly poses after dropping a fool on the ground. This was made even better by Pierce (one of your homies) quickly commenting "save it for the cameras." Once I had a high enough level to buy the immunity to bullets, wrestling moves was practically the only attack I used if I could swing it.
Features that Should Be Essential
Maybe now is a good time to mention that Saints Row The Third is essentially an open world game so if you're not into that kind of thing, all the gunfights and window dressing isn't going to do you any favors. But the game has done more than a few things that I don't think I can live without if I had to play another game like it. Leaping into cars and kicking out the driver is so quick, easy, and useful that the brief carjacking animations of GTAs past seem like they take forever. It's also appreciated that if a cop somehow does run up on your side and throw you out you don't get immediately arrested. Saints Row The Third is pretty committed to letting you play until you die. Or in the very late game playing until you're satisfied because dying becomes impossible. Of course, considering the tone of this game that kind of shit can fly any day of the week. But if other games had to crib notes I hope they find someway to make that work.
Not to mention the way they handle vehicles in this game. If you ever find a car you absolutely love, you can never lose it if you return it to your garage. The feature to call up a gang member to deliver it to where ever you may roam is also greatly appreciated. Sooner or later you can do it with helicopters and VTOLs and that's also pretty awesome. Expendable gang members are also a plus so you never have to get too attached to your soldiers or worry about wasting them. This is especially awesome as you complete side missions until you can have a whole gang of Professor Genkis rolling with you whenever you feel like it. It's like a Super Ethical Reality Climax everyday of the week.
Of Course, Perfection is a Hard Mark to Hit
Saints Row The Third is a good game, but like any release in 2011 it has its fair share of problems. I had more than a few lock ups on loading screens and even one while I was flying in a helicopter. The trigger for one mission to end never flipped so I had to reload my save file and play it twice to beat it. One weird glitch occurred where I couldn't interact with characters like taking hostages or using wrestling moves- which was probably the worst one of all considering how much I love running up on guys and drop kicking them. This even happened during one of the endings of the game where a cut scene was supposed to trigger meaning I had to play through the whole thing all over again. Video games, man.
Overall I had a great time. This game's sense of humor is fairly particular, and it makes sense why most of the Giant Bomb crew would enjoy it. I'm in no position to say whether it was hilarious or not, but there are some good moments if just for the "wow, they really did that" value.