Steelport is Under New Management! The Saints Row Retrospective: Saints Row The Third

 

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?

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We Used to Own This City! The Saints Row Retrospective: Saints Row 2

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Saints Row Retrospective Introduction hereSaints Row 1 here, Saints Row The Third here.

Saints Row 2. This is where it gets real. The first Saints Row was good and all, but this is where the series cut its teeth. You’ve probably heard of the Saints Row series being wild, chaotic, and proudly removed from reality, but if you started with the first Saints Row, you would understandably end up confused. “Why don’t I get to crash into things on a quad while on fire?” you might ask. “Where are the missions where I let lose with a septic truck?” “I thought I would get to kill people with a giant purple dildo!”

Well, you don’t get to in the first game. That game has its moments, but it still leaves a foot in the real, the rational, the “mature.” It was content with its position as being “mostly a GTA clone” and did not stretch itself any further than that. Saints Row 2 was where the series got its wings, where it finally took efforts to distinguish itself from Grand Theft Auto and its many imitators. And although Saints Row 2’s gameplay did get updated, that’s not what really sets it apart. This is where the Saints Row character was defined. This is the game that established the insane moments, wild fun, and blatant, loving immaturity the series is known for. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Sinners Welcome! The Saints Row Retrospective, Part 2: Saints Row

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Saints Row Retrospective Introduction here, Saints Row 2 hereSaints Row The Third here.

We’re moving forward with our Saints Row Retrospective project, finally getting into real games. Who needs that foo-foo introduction crap anyway? This is where it’s really at! Here’s where we get into the meat of it, where we really find out what Saints Row is all about!

So here we are, talking about Saints Row, the first game in the Saints Row series. Go figure. Saints Row establishes a lot of what the following games pick up on and run with. And by “establishes” I mean “rips off from GTA” of course. I give it a lot of guff for that, but really, lots of games were ripping of Grand Theft Auto by the time this came out and Saints Row did it better than one might expect. Its definitely built off of the mechanics and style GTA III started, but the developers really added their own bits to it and made something unique. On-foot combat was made into something useable. The irreverent tone was expanded upon even as most crime games, GTA included, ditched the jokes for the drama masks. The city you were terrorizing had much more for you to do in between missions. Saints Row added enough to the formula that discounting it as just a GTA clone is doing it a disservice. It’d be more accurate to simply call it “mostly a GTA clone.”

Saints Row is a sandbox game where you are responsible for inflicting as much chaos, destruction, and straight up weirdness on the city of Stilwater as possible. Your nameless, customized character, known only as “Playa,” is an enforcer for the Third Street Saints, and as enforcer, your goals are to end gang warfare in Stilwater by murdering each and every member of the other three gangs in the city. Along the way, you’ll commit no small number of major and minor crimes, mostly through missions and non-storyline activities. It’s a sandbox game. Those things are made for messing stuff up. You’ve got pretty typical driving and third-person dual stick shooter controls. They put them together in a way that’s not quite great, but it functions well enough to make thousands of bangers dead. The plot’s fairly straightforward. There’s only a few twists, and they’re mostly towards the end. But you’re not playing for the plot anyways. The game doesn’t expect you to. All it expects you to do is destroy, and it dedicates itself to setting up just what you need for that.

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Just down the block from Sinners Alley: Saint’s Row Retrospective, Part 1-Introduction

So, I’ve had this blog for weeks now.  Weeks.  And yet I haven’t done any things with it yet.  Should we do a thing?  I think we should have done a thing already.  Are you ready to do a thing?  I’m home alone and have had way too many margaritas.  That makes it the perfect time to do a thing!  Let’s do a thing!

What thing you ask?  Well, you probably ask that because you’re too impatient to read the post’s title.  In memorium of THQ, we’re going over the Saints Row series!

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So, we’ll be doing this in five parts.  The first post, which you’ll be reading here, will give an overview and my thoughts on the series based solely on memory.  Kind of a summary of things to come.  Then, I’ll play through the games, making a post for each one as I finish them.  We’ll get more in-depth in the analysis there, covering the various characters, the plot, the gameplay, all that fun stuff.  Then, at the end, I’ll give a more informed retrospective of the type of stuff the series covers.  Interested?  Of course you are!  Hit the jump to find out more!

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R.I.P. THQ

So my stats tell me that at least one of you is using Lost to the Aether as your go-to source for news on the THQ bankruptcy, from this post.  Since a single visitor makes up approximately 83% of my web traffic at this time, I figured I’d give you what you want and talk of THQ a bit more.

There’s not a whole lot of business analysis or explanation to do here, like there was last post.  THQ is done.  Over.  Dead.  Dismembered.  Drawn and quartered.  Basically, what happened is that the individual parts went up to auction, and collectively sold for more than the $60 million Clearlake Capital offered for the full organization.  Not a whole lot more.  Only about $72 million, at the time of this writing.  This still isn’t a good deal for the creditors.  They’re still making dimes on the dollar.  They’re still getting shafted.  But they’re getting shafted slightly more gently than they were under the initial offer.  Like, the person doing the shafting is actually pretending to love them this time.  Still, they’re better off than the stockholders.  It’s not looking like they’ll be getting anything.

But hey, stuff was being sold, so that means that parts of THQ survive, right?  Let’s figure out what’s going where!

I’m kind of lucky, in that both the Volition studio and the Saint’s Row IP are going to the same place: Koch Media.  The Metro IP is going along, too.  Koch Media is a media publisher whose American games arm, Deep Silver, has published Catherine and a bunch of other games I haven’t played.  It doesn’t look like they’re into the development side of things, so I can’t imagine there’d be much in the way of redundancies between them and Volition.  Considering that Volition is supposedly already working on the next Saint’s Row game, I’d imagine that they’re going to go relatively unmolested.  Not sure what the plans are for the Metro IP, though.

The studio Relic, who almost entirely makes PC titles such as Homefront, Warhammer, and Dawn of War was the hotly contested item, ending up in the hands of Sega.  THQ Montreal, maker of later entries in the Metro,and WWE franchises are now owned by Ubisoft.  We’ll have to see how those are handled.  Since they’re going to companies that already have game divisions, there could be some layoffs in the future, although it shouldn’t be enough that the studios close down.  They’re being bought independently of the IPs they’ve worked on, so the companies are most likely buying them to increase their own capacities.  I’m pretty certain THQ Montreal is going to be renamed.  Just a hunch.

The Homefront IP is going to to Crytek, and the South Park game is going to Ubisoft along with THQ Montreal.  The big weirdo among the IP purchases is that of Evolve.  If you don’t remember playing any games from that franchise, well, that’s because there aren’t any.  Take-2 paid a mint for it, though, far more than I’d have expected it to be worth.  Guess they were impressed with what they saw.

Vigil games and the franchise they developed, Darksiders, noticeably didn’t attract any buyers.  Vigil hasn’t really done anything of note outside of the Darksiders series, and the franchise kind of flopped commercially with the second installment, so that’s not really a huge surprise.  THQ may find a separate buyer for them, outside of that big auction.

Also noticeably without buyers are the WWE, Nickelodeon, and Pixar franchises.  Dealing with the sizes of the companies who own the licenses to those, however, it seems probable that they’re not transferable, that they wouldn’t even be listed as up for auction.  I imagine those who own them will find new publishers for their games soon enough.

Dissecting the THQ Bankruptcy

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THQ, maker of the Saint’s Row franchise and a bunch of other games I don’t care about BUT YOU MIGHT has fallen on some hard times lately, eh?  Well, “lately” is kind of a polite way of putting it.  Truth is, they’ve been circling the drain since 2008.  But last year was an exceptionally eventful one for them!  Layoff’s, a change in power, a desperate move to keep from being de-listed from the stock exchange, it’s been rough times.  And now, it’s coming to a head with this bankruptcy.  And bankruptcy is nothing anyone wishes on them.  Well, unless you still hold a grudge for 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand or something.  Anyways,  we’ve been getting all sorts of conflicting messages from them.  President Jason Rubin says everything’s going to be fine, thank you for asking, how are you?  If you take the statements he was making at the time the bankruptcy was announced, they’re just hitting a rough patch, and they’re going to come through it harder, better, faster, stronger than ever!  On the other hand, THQ’s creditor’s and the general games journalism sphere don’t seem so optimistic.  So what’s really going to happen?  If only there was some incredibly smart business/video games blogger around that could enlighten all of us.  Well, truth is, it’s really hard to say just yet.  I may be incredibly smart, and I might end up blogging about business and/or video games, too early to say just yet, but right now, THQ’s at too uncertain a place for true enlightenment.  I can attempt to help you understand the situation  better, though.  Would you like that?  No?  Well I’m gonna keep typing anyway!

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