Saints Row Retrospective Introduction here, Saints Row 1 here, Saints Row 2 here.
Here we are. We’re finally at the game that I had fully expected would finish up this retrospective series. Little did I know, however, that I’m slower than a fat baby wading through peanut butter at getting these written. So I could have finally finished the series up with just one more post after this one. But no, Volition and Deep Silver decided to spite me personally by releasing Saints Row IV while I was writing this, thus moving my goalposts farther away just as I was coming in for a homerun. Or however sports work. Whatever, I’m nothing if not flexible, I can roll with this. So, Saints Row: The Third! That’s a game! Here’s a giant freakin’ post about it! Read it and shower me with adoration!
Oh, and for the record, I still haven’t played Saints Row IV by the time this post comes out, so keep that perspective in mind.
It seems that Saints Row 2 was a bit of a surprise hit, and Volition/THQ was aiming to take advantage of that newfound popularity in Saints Row: The Third. Everything in the game has been overhauled, from the tone to the engine, even the blasted title’s changed format for this entry. And while I may not agree with all the changes, I can’t argue with their effectiveness; this is by far the most unique game in the series to date, drastically setting itself apart from all the rest of the sandbox crime simulators out there.
It’s the tone that does that, more than anything else. This game is where the Saints Row series leaves any ties to reality behind, leaping from the diving board of the rational and plunging right into the deep end of insanity. This is the game where you’ll be assaulting people with giant purple dildos, where you’ll wage war as a deeply immersed avatar on the internet, where you’ll get into tank battles while falling from 25,000 feet in the air. Saints Row: The Third pushes the reputation the series had gotten for blatant irreverence and wild gameplay to it’s breaking point, and then pushes it just a bit further. The series has always been known for being wild, and this game is the most blatant of the lot.
That’s not to say that the tone is everything. Behind the newly reached heights of ridiculousness lies the most highly polished game in the series thus far. Except maybe for Saints Row IV. But we’re ignoring that right now because Deep Silver did not get my permission before publishing. In what feels like pursuit of a broader audience, Volition has given Saints Row: The Third the smoothest gameplay the series has seen yet, and made player convenience the order of the day. Well, mostly. There are a few missteps here and there, but we’ll get to those. It may be telling that this is the first game I’ve pursued 100% completion while replaying them for this retrospective series. While part of that is because The Third is a bit simpler and smaller than it’s predecessor, it’s mostly that I found the gameplay so entertaining and each individual aspect so accessible. It’s a good game. It’s a really good game. So much so that it inspired me to write 22 pages of text on it. That has to be some sort of point in its favor, right?