MSRP: $19.99 ($14.99 for base game only)
Platforms: PC, XBox 360, Playstation 3
If I had to pick my preferred video gaming alignment, I would probably go with Neutral Good. I don’t always need to follow the rules (and occasionally, I even delight in breaking them), but I want to do things for the right reasons. In fact, I’ve actually felt bad when making decisions in a game that I could not morally justify.
Not so in Saints Row: The Third. It’s just not that kind of game. It’s violent, absurd, and oodles of fun to play. But you don’t get to be a good guy.
You play as the leader of the Third Street Saints gang; a group that’s as much a commodity as a criminal enterprise. After a robbery gone horribly wrong, you end up at war with the Syndicate (a rival gang) for Steelport.
There is nothing about Saint’s Row: The Third that isn’t completely over the top. But in between crashing cars, shooting down helicopters, and taking out your rivals (as well as anyone else who gets in your way), the game also has heart. The scene that really sold me on the game comes pretty early on – you’re driving through Steelport with gang member Pierce, and you both start singing along to Sublime on the radio.
Character creation is robust, and happens only after completion of the first mission – the entire first part of the game you’re wearing a Johnny Gat mask. The first two segments of the game must be played consecutively, but after that, the world opens up to you. Sure, the game will tell you what your logical next step is, but it doesn’t force you. However, I highly recommend staying on the story path at least until you open up your first crib – after that, alternate means of making cash start opening up.
There’s a significant amount of driving in SR:3, and I’m as bad as it here as anywhere. However, that can work in my favor. If I crash my car, I just steal another one. The game keeps track of things like narrowly missing a collision and driving on the wrong side of the road. These are things you’re EXPECTED to do when you’re a crime boss.
For an extra five dollars, I’d advise you to get The Full Package version. A lot of what you get is ridiculous cosmetic items, but it also includes three additional mission packs. I’ve put in almost 20 hours on a single character and figure I’ve probably only completed about half of what there is to do in the game, and you’ll need multiple playthroughs if you want to unlock all the achievements. The game also includes co-op, an endless slaughter mode, and three difficulty levels for the campaign.
You have to go into it with a sense of humor, and a willingness to be completely utterly bad. It’s over the top, but (slightly) less so than the fourth entry into the series. It’s not deep cerebral gameplay, but it doesn’t claim to be. It just wants to be there for you when you feel like shooting everything in sight.