Saints Row: The Third is dumb fun, what more can I say. It's a pleasant reminder of why you fell in love with video games in the first place, because they were fun. In an age where we often take games a tad too seriously, it's refreshing to see a developer create a world for you to simply have fun in. Yes there's a funny story nestled within, yes there's a point to all the crazy violence you create along the way, but it doesn't matter, because Saints Row: The Third only cares that you're having fun throughout and there's something heart-warming about that.
The third game in the Saints Row franchise (as the name suggest), Saints Row: The Third no longer feels like a poor-mans GTA, instead of copying and pasting many of the fundamental mechanics of Rockstar Games successful open world franchise, developer Volition Software decided to go in the opposite direction, taking notes more from San Andreas than GTA 4. Instead of some serious gritty tale of man's survival in a violent and destructive world, Volition gives you a dildo and ask you to swing to your hearts content. That's sort of the point to this third Saints Row game, it never takes itself seriously and embraces stupidity, for the better by somehow carving out it's own niche.
The Saints, the iconic gang which you are a direct member of, are now famous stars, who have reached the big time with their very own clothing shops and energy drinks, basically put when you're stopped in the middle of a bank robbery and asked for an autograph you know you've made it to the big time. This gives Volition a suitable excuse for all the crazy messed up things you do throughout Saints Row: The Third's main story. Though this being an open world game, you can of course venture into many of the numerous other activities available to you, which are scattered throughout the world. Some of these extra activities return from past Saints Row games, for example the insurance fraud mini-game, though there's decent selection of fun side-activities which can earn you extra cash. As for Saints Row's main storyline, it's one of gangs killing gangs, fights in cyber worlds, tigers in cars and so much more, it's stupid fun which is well complimented by some great writing throughout. They don't quite pull off every joke, but I found myself laughing throughout.
At one point you're basically given a VTOL jet, just given it to play with... that alone gives you some idea of what this game's all about. It doesn't care about consistency really, at the core of the experience is fun and whilst there are areas of the game which tend to frustrate (many of which involved combat) there's still a lot here to have go crazy with. There is a fun selection of weapons are your disposal to, from the simple pistol and shotgun to the cyber-blaster and apoca-fist, there all there to create massive destruction and it's all an absolute blast. But with all these weapons, don't go thinking Saints Row: The Third is an easy game, whilst certainly not a massive challenge I found combat especially to be a well-balanced experience, not until I'd spent a great amount of cash in upgrades did I feel the combat become a little too easy. How do you earn all that cash? Well by purchasing businesses, property and completing missions, which then gets added to a hourly city income. In fact it's possible to upgrade your character to the degree that combat is a walk in the part, though that's not until you reach the higher levels.
Maybe it was a case of playing a game at just the right time, but coming off the back of say something like Naughty Dog's The Last of Us, Saints Row: The Third was like a refreshing cold drink. Something which doesn't quite compare to Naughty Dog's masterful zombie thriller, but still as a place in my heart because it's pure fun that doesn't take intense concentration and doesn't require you to think before you jump out of that helicopter that's on fire. It's simply a refreshing change that's helped thanks to some great writing, some memorable voice performances and a few real great levels. It's not perfect, there's some obvious rough edges both visually and in design and yes, the way the game introduces you to the side activities gets old real fast, but once you can get past all that you'll find an engaging, stupid, insanely fun experience like nothing before it. So if you can your video games a little less serious, I'm confident you'll find a great deal to laugh at and enjoy with Saints Row: The Third.
So as you can most probably tell, I ended up rather fond of Saints Row: The Third. Don't get me wrong, it's not a perfect open world experience. Whilst the PC version runs perfectly and easily looks like the best version of the game, on consoles the performance is a little hit and miss, with the frame-rate dropping considerably in spots and while there's a lot to eventually like about the story, it's a slow starter and for many it might not be enough to stick with. My advice, stay with it and you'll quickly understand why this is one of the more memorable open world games of recent years. Throughout my time with Saints Row: The Third, I was continually reminded of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, because whilst GTA as never quite lost it's willingness to be stupid and less serious from time to time, I feel much of what made GTA so memorable was lost with Grand Theft Auto 4. Saints Row: The Third understands why we fell in love with GTA 3 in the first place, because we got to do stupid stuff whenever we wanted and at the end of the day that's what makes Saints Row: The Third so easy to recommend, because it reminds you why you fell in love with this genre of games in the first place.