All of the clunk from PS2 era open world games lie unfixed in SR.
The original Saints Row's downloadable demo, years and years ago, left me wondering how another run of the mill GTA3 clone could garner such praise. The industry had bombarded us with 25 to Life, True Crime, Driver, and eventually, Crackdown, and I thought that that ship had sailed. There was one last way to make people care about gangster games again, by beating GTA4 to market as the first "next-gen" game of its kind. We all know that next-gen Grand Theft Auto put the final nail in these amateurs by turning away from the cartoon style and jittery fish in a barrel gun-play. "4" sold millions and millions. Some gamers, however, were not on board with its new found seriousness.
Now, Saints Row: The Third comes along and promises to fill a niche of gamers who miss the GTA of old. And they did it by cranking Rockstar Games' spoofs of gangster culture and violent video game paranoia to a new level of absurdity. Unfortunately, that's the just of all they've done. So simply knowing that there's a T-Pain character that forever talks in Auto-Tune, and that there is a dildo-bat weapon, is enough to spoil much of the "oh no they didn't?!" surprise. They go there. They went there. They crossed lines. Underneath all of the production values, to great dismay, is the same frustrating, repetitive, shoddy gameplay that can be summarized by the genres of glitches and errors it contains. You can find 'em here on Giant Bomb. Slideshow frame rates, clipping, getting stuck in geometry, poor auto-targeting, unresponsive NPCs, NPCs that randomly die and prevent you from finishing the mission, rubber band A.I., floaty steering, and the rest.
Plus, on the PS3, there's one totally game breaking glitch never patched. Google searches turned up tons of forum threads seeking a solution. I just got lucky by loading a much earlier save and finishing other missions before coming back to it. It appears the end of Act 1 can result in a scripted cutscene enemy killing you every time, no matter what you do.
All of the tediousness of driving across the entire map to start a side quest, and only to fail because cars catch fire and blow up faster than you can get out of them (of all the things to change versus Grand Theft Auto), seems to be justified by the great cast of loonies you'll come across in the campaign. But maybe you'd be better off just watching someone else play it on YouTube. Some of the missions in the game are literally nothing more than cutscenes. Every time a mission like diedeckers.exe put a smile on my face, the high was buzz killed by another case of my squadmate dying because they wouldn't enter my vehicle, or because they decided to start shooting at the police when all I wanted to do was drive their asses to the next mission.
Experienced gamers, who've dealt with the stomach churning annoyances of classic games in this genre, will be able to enjoy the beautiful insanity of the laugh a minute campaign. But avoid recommending this comedy to friends; they may never advance far enough to see it.