|System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360|
|Dev: Volition, Inc.|
|Release: November 15, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Drugs|
by Josh Engen
The Star-Spangled Banner insists that America is the "land of the free" and "the home of the brave," but last time I checked, I wasn't allowed to fly a fighter jet in downtown Chicago while firing a microwave gun at a flock of homeless people. Obviously, Francis Scott Key didn't know what the word "freedom" really meant. Lucky for me, Saints Row: The Third is heading to retailers in November.
If you've played either of the previous Saints titles, you're familiar with the over-the-top violence that Saints games are known for, but Saints Row: The Third has managed to crank up the volume. Instead of simply punching a bystander with your fists, now you will be able to leapfrog over his shoulders and drive his skull into the pavement. Instead of disposing of enemies with your trusty shotgun, now you can inhale them with a vacuum cannon and launch them into the nearest chimney. Instead of a Lamborghini, now you can fly a fighter jet. You get the idea.
And, if players ever decide to take a break from indiscriminately murdering ordinary civilians, Saints Row: The Third has a pretty intricate little storyline. The story picks up shortly after the events of Saints Row 2, where the Saints have become national celebrities. I guess defeating several rival gangs and overthrowing a corrupt corporation can really upgrade a gang's reputation. This newfound popularity adds an incredibly entertaining aspect to The Third's sand-box-style gameplay; everyone is always excited to see you. If you decide to dance with a short-skirted woman on the street, she will be compelled by her adoration to dance with you. If you pull up to a curb and do a burnout in a stolen police car, the people on the corners will applaud. This is the type of thoughtless devotion that Americans have been waiting for hundreds of years to accept.
The storyline in The Third follows the leader of the Third Street Saints as they relocate the gang from Stilwater, the setting for the first 2 Saints games, to Steelport, a neighboring city. A crime syndicate, aptly called "The Syndicate," has taken over criminal operations in Stilwater and divvied up the control of the city to the Saints' rival gangs. Saints Row: The Third sees our gangland heroes attempt to take their city back.
The mission structure in The Third is far more interconnected than the previous Saints titles. Each decision that the player makes while dealing with one gang could affect future dealings with their rivals or their allies. This means that every time you play through Saints Row: The Third, the experience will be altogether different. And, while the previous Saints Games used respect as a way to unlock story arcs, The Third uses it like RPG-style experience points. The more respect you gain, the more attributes, kills, and weapons you'll be able to unlock.
Character customization is also a huge part of The Third. Have you always wanted to know what you would look like in a space suit? Saints row has you covered. Have you ever wanted to know what you'd look like in a sexy bunny outfit? Saints Row has you covered. Ever wanted to know what you'd look like naked if you hadn't spent the last several years eating nothing but Baconators? Saints Row has you covered there too.
"We've blown customization out of the water," said Drew Holmes, one of the writers behind The Third. "It's really all about giving players more options to pick and choose and play as the character they want to play as."
Another thing that really sets The Third apart from the previous titles is the addition of minigames like Tank Mayhem. Tank Mayhem allows players to do as much monetary damage to the city as possible in a given amount of time. This innovation really helps break up the monotony that inevitably comes with hours of haphazard slaughter.
I probably don't need to say this, but parents, you should really keep this game away from your young children, unless you don't have a problem with your child assaulting a nearby police officer with an oversized sex toy. But I'm assuming that you probably do have a problem with this.
Ultimately, Saints Row: The Third will be welcome, albeit violently cartoonish, splash into the sand-box-style adventure genre. It will raise the bar for games like Grand Theft Auto and Prototype, but I can't help but wonder what new and exciting ways they'll dream up for murdering pedestrians in future sequels.
Saints Row: The Third is scheduled for release on November 11th.
CCC Contributing Writer