Saints Row: The Third Review
Xbox 360 | PS3
Saints Row: The Third Box Art
System: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Dev: Volition, Inc.
Pub: THQ
Release: November 15, 2011
Players: 1-2
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Drugs

The side-missions, on the other hand, seem to have been pared back from previous entries. While there are some truly standout concepts in the main story arc (//deckers.die and Murderbrawl XXXI are personal favorites), most of the other activities just task players with driving to a location and shooting some people. Sometimes the people come to you, instead. Also, when the game first gives the impression that it's opening up, it takes the opportunity to introduce you to its entire retinue of side-missions, few of which are of any lasting value (though Mayhem missions return and Trail Blazing is a blast, as is Dr. Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax, a game show that involves shooting mascots and avoiding flames and electricity).

All of this is powered by a new engine that looks, for lack of a better term, glossy. It's a good thing, in that the graphics have character and don't appear overly staid, and the darker color palette of Steelport feels appropriate (though the crumpling effect on damaged vehicles is a little hit-or-miss.) But the engine sometimes seemed to be too much for the hardware to handle. On the Xbox 360, at least, the game would consistently chug when driving at high speeds, never to the point where it seriously affected gameplay, but it became apparent during less visually demanding sequences, when the game's frame rate spiked, that aiming was definitely affected by a sort of visual lag.

Saints Row: The Third Screenshot

Sound-wise, stuff blows up well and gunfire is satisfying; melee attacks have a meaty crunch to them, to the point where it can draw a wince when the protagonist delivers a particularly deadly soccer kick to a downed enemy's head. The soundtrack is mostly composed of licensed music, all found on the radio except during specific mission sequences that just seem to call for a certain song. At those times, the developer's choices generally adhere to the title's absurdist nature. Joe Esposito's "You're The Best" while chainsawing through hordes of Mexican wrestlers at a pay-per-view event? Very Saints Row.

Lastly, there are the multiplayer options. No competitive play, here, unless leaderboards count. The Whored mode offers wave-based enemy slaying, but it feels pretty bare when compared to the tower defense-infused Horde mode in Gears of War 3. It's good for a laugh or two, though. The crux of multiplayer in Saints Row: The Third, however, is its co-op campaign. Besides being jump-in/jump-out, and allowing players to bring their own characters along for the ride, it consists of the entire single-player campaign, played with a partner. Players aren't forced to stick together, able to go wherever they wish in the open world, though they are given the option to tackle missions together when one player activates them. It's a lot of fun to just run around with a buddy and wreak unchecked mayhem and destruction. Or, you know, play through the missions.


The big issue I have with Saints Row: The Third is that it doesn't feel like its content, varied though it may be, has much of a purpose outside of the main campaign. The open world really seems to exist more as a way to prolong the experience by forcing a player to travel to the origin point for the next mission rather than simply having it begin outright. While it can be enjoyable to unwind by just cutting loose in the sandbox, the world isn't densely packed enough with compelling, secondary content to draw the player's attention while they're traversing the city from point A to point B. Saints Row: The Third is still a lot of fun to play, and it absolutely takes its story-telling and presentation to the next level, but it feels like a step backward for the series with regard to justifying itself as a sandbox experience.

By Shelby Reiches
CCC Contributing Writer

The design is largely excellent, but the crumple effects just look so strange at times and the frame rate is mediocre throughout.
It might take a little getting used to, but the controls were largely intuitive and logical. Quick time events could respond to inputs better.
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
While the sound effects and music choices are good, there are disappointingly few tracks for the radio and I never came across a store where I could purchase more. Also, sometimes celebrity voices can hurt more than help (though everyone should keep an eye out for Steelport's mayor.)
Play Value
While it's a big game world, most of what's there just feels like busywork. The plotline itself lasts for about nine hours, and the Whored mode will probably last most people a few more at most.
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Return to the streets of Stilwater and discover how fame and fortune as the kings of the town has affected the Saints—for the better and for the worse.
  • Take the fight to Steelport, a struggling city of sin where you must battle it out with the dangerous Syndicate gang.
  • Take on a Mexican wrestling gang in a satellite-targeted airstrike.

  • Videos / Game Trailers
    Saints Row: The Third: Freefall Gameplay Trailer  - click to enlarge
    Freefall Gameplay
    Saints Row: The Third: SDCC 2011 - Syndication Trailer  - click to enlarge
    SDCC 11: Syndication Trailer
    Saints Row: The Third: Professor Genki Pre-Order Pack Trailer   - click to enlarge
    Professor Genki Trailer
    Saints Row: The Third: Open-World Gameplay  - click to enlarge
    Open-World Gameplay
    Saints Row: The Third: E3 2011: Power Trailer    - click to enlarge
    Power Trailer

    Screenshots / Images
    Saints Row: The Third Screenshot - click to enlarge Saints Row: The Third Screenshot - click to enlarge Saints Row: The Third Screenshot - click to enlarge Saints Row: The Third Screenshot - click to enlarge Saints Row: The Third Screenshot - click to enlarge Saints Row: The Third Screenshot - click to enlarge Saints Row: The Third Screenshot - click to enlarge Saints Row: The Third Screenshot - click to enlarge Saints Row: The Third Screenshot - click to enlarge Saints Row: The Third Screenshot - click to enlarge

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