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Saints Row: The Third review

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Even with all the hype, Saints Row doesn't disappoint...

'Saints Row: The Third' (2011) review

A giant purple sex toy: That’s what was in the player characters’ hands as I approached Saints Row: The Third at the Eurogamer Expo. It set the tone nicely for some time with what frankly is an insane video game, but one that knows it, even relishes it. And that’s in the off-kilter fun Saints Row has to offer.

'Saints Row: The Third' (2011) reviewSo, what better way to start some hands-on time with the latest in Volition’s madcap series than using the... provocative object as a weapon? That’s right, it isn’t here for no reason, no sir, the reason it’s in the player's hands is to hit people with it. It’s half the size of a person and yes, before you ask, when you strike someone down with the...phallic item...it wobbles around.

It was at this point a member of THQ staff manning the Saints Row: The Third area approached the Xbox 360 console I was using and commented that everyone seemed to find the dildo the most appealing weapon to use first. Well, you’re not going to find many titles on the current market with such a thing as an equipable item are you? The last time I saw such a thing was in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas...and that didn’t wobble.

That’s the inevitable Grand Theft Auto comparison out the way, but it’s one that must be made. The sandbox environment and mission-based structure certainly do mirror Rockstar’s series, but this time around Saints Row is arguably more GTA than GTA itself. While some were disappointed with the more serious tone of Grand Theft Auto IV, (even if expansion pack The Ballad of Gay Tony went some way to reversing this) Saints Row: The Third has its tongue firmly in cheek as it encourages you to cause as much mayhem as possible.

And mayhem was indeed caused during our time with the game. After beating people down with a sex toy, it was time to get some wheels and explore Steelport. Of course, the easiest way to get a car was to steal one and drive into the distance, well, sort of distance...having not checked the controllers I promptly crashed into a wall. The in car controls do feel somewhat loose, but you could put that down to fitting in to the crazy unpredictable nature of the game.

Catastrophe and madness are certainly prominent through the backbone of Saints Row: The Third, and while I didn’t get to experience any missions, I was able to cause plenty of trouble thanks to the selection of weapons available – duel pistols, an assault rifle, a shot gun etc. They’re all a lot of fun to use in their different ways, and a bit more practical than a sex toy too.

'Saints Row: The Third' (2011) reviewStill, the weapons here give you an extra incentive in the form of ‘Respect’ points to be a little more creative with your chaos. You COULD just shoot someone, or you could do it in style with a headshot. Or alternatively you could go below the belt – literally – with a ‘Nut shot’ which sounds, and looks, incredibly painful. At least it looked extremely painful to the Luchadores - a gang of Lucha Libre-style masked wrestlers – whose territory I’d gate crashed.

Speaking of wrestling, your Saints Row: The Third protagonist has a variety of WWE-style melee manoeuvres available to them during combat, and there’s something ever so satisfying about running up behind an unsuspecting member of the public then slamming their face into the ground with a bulldog. It was one of many wrestling moves available to perform at will that had me giggling like a schoolgirl. Causing chaos has never been this fun.

The madness is only enhanced by the bright colors around Steelport, colorful signs on buildings, gangs in crazy outfits and your own fully customizable character. The protagonist on my machine was the default protagonist in his fetching purple blazer. Meanwhile the person next to me had lovingly crafted a burly gentleman wearing ladies knickers and a corset. Because nothing says gang leader like that, right? The ability to make your character – male or female – whatever you want is all part of the Saints Row fun.

This was only 20 minutes of messing around, of experimenting and causing mayhem in Steelport, but it was the most fun I had at The Eurogamer Expo, that’s for sure. While Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 provided intense combat, and Skyrim offered a huge world to explore, Saints Row: The Third just offered plain old fun. If the trailers are anything to go by, the missions will just add more of this.

Saints Row started in the eyes of a lot of gamers as an imitation of Grand Theft Auto. Now, in a time where many are yearning for GTA to return to its zany roots, and with Grand Theft Auto V nowhere to be seen, this could very well be Saints Row: The Third’s time to shine.

Saints Row: The Third for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is released 18th November 2011.

See also:

Saints Row: The Third offical review

Saints Row: The Third - bigger, badder and more insane

Eurogamer Exclusive: Skyrim


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