I began this post last year after finishing the game, and just discovered it in my drafts folder.
Saints Row 2 was one of the most entertaining games of the last few years, a worthy successor to the Grand Theft Auto series after Rockstar threw out the fun in Grand Theft Auto 4: Bowlerama. While GTA tried to present a more realistic approach to gangster life and continually interrupted the player as they were driving around hijacking cars, running down pedestrians and blowing things up with phone calls from NPCs who wanted to… go bowling… Saints Row pushed the genre even more over the top.
Saints Row The Third (aka Saints Row 3) takes that even further, and is the only game I’ve played where the answer to the question ‘what weapon would be best for this mission?’ sometimes turns out to be a three-foot purple dildo. One of the earliest missions includes NOLF-style shootouts in mid-air after falling out of a plane, then crashing back into the plane to shoot the bad guy before parachuting to the ground, and side-missions include a mascot-shooting game show and causing destruction and mayhem with a hundred-foot tall ball of yarn.
SR2 had many problems, most obviously a massive appetite for computing power and a remarkable ability to crash at the slightest provocation; it was poorly ported from consoles and odds are that on any given PC it would either run but require much better hardware than similar games, or it would not run at all. Workarounds have been developed for a number of those problems, but it’s still not guaranteed to run and unlikely to run more than a few hours without crashing. Worse, the cars drive like a 1970s cop show where all the actors are drunk.
SR3 has none of them. The only major bug I noticed in over thirty hours of game play is that cars sometimes get stuck in scenery or the ground when they crash or something falls on them; not a big problem as you can usually just steal another car, but the last time it happened to me was on an island infested with zombies, where other cars were few and far between. One minor bug is that the car collection activity is impossible to complete after finishing the game missions, because one of the cars is only available in the second half of the game. It’s also hard to complete because some bridges are open at that point, and while they can be jumped in a fast vehicle, a slow one just goes into the sea.
The missions are generally entertaining, but it does have consolized ‘checkpoint’ saves, and at one point there are a few missions that run into each other with cut-scenes between, so you can’t just finish one mission and do something else. Dialogue is often funny, particularly the mission with Bert Reynolds and another where the character is pretending to be someone else.
It does suffer from DLC-itis with numerous small addons available; fortunately now the game has been out a year or two the complete game packs with all important DLC are pretty cheap. The mission DLCs are good fun, and Dr Genki’s events are some of the best parts of the game.
I’d give it about 8 out of 10 solely because the game world feels less interactive than SR2. There are really no hidden areas like the SR2 mall, and few buildings you can enter. Otherwise it’s just jolly good fun and I’m waiting to see what SR4 will be like.