Saints Row 3: First look

All bets are off in The Third...

You're right, Saints Row: The Third is childish. Not that you'd want your kids behaving like this: it's a game where you punch elderly people in the crotch, run around in the nude and smash people's faces with a giant, floppy purple willy on a stick.

It's wilfully, gleefully OTT; utterly crass and irresistible - and in a world of grimly realistic shooters and tortured anti-heroes, just about the most refreshing game in years.

Sure, the original Xbox-only Saints Row was a shameless GTA: San Andreas clone - and plagued by technical gripes - but by embracing its childish imagination, Saints Row 2 was stuffed with ideas, most of them entertaining, at a time when Grand Theft Auto's top priorities were grittiness, satire and atmosphere.


We love GTA, but surely there's room for lightness and darkness in the open-world genre?

It helps that Saints Row: The Third at least looks grown up. The distinctly last-gen visuals haunting Saints Row 2 have been swapped for glistening new technology, and it's a leap forward from Volition's recent Red Faction Guerilla, let alone the series' last outing.

The glistening new city of Steelport is densely decorated: wander into the Let's Pretend store to pick up a purple spacesuit (as you will) and you find a room crammed with incidental details. The streets are similarly gorgeous, with the bland shades of Stilwater replaced by bright, vibrant tones.

It looks particularly arresting as the sun sets and the seedy, neon-adorned casinos light up. It's almost a shame you're going to
make an enormous mess of it. It won't take you long, either. Volition is giving you seriously destructive kit early in the game.

How about a laser designator for missiles that don't even impact, but airburst to rain fiery doom upon whatever target was unfortunate enough to be painted? This kind of military tech would ordinarily be saved for special occasions, but Saints Row: The Third is so confident it has enough arms up its sleeves - as it were - it's, uh, handing out things of this scale early on. It's a game that forces you to have fun.

To meet the threat to civilised society your tooled-up sociopath poses, Volition has 'roided up the cops over the last game. Initially you'll be up against standard police patrols, but once the government gets wind of the clash between your gang - the Saints - and Steelport's controlling coalition The Syndicate, it sends in the military.

Of course, you then have an army base chock full of achingly desirable military hardware and experimental technology that you won't be able to resist pilfering. We particularly love the tank that merrily squishes any car that gets caught under its treads - the crumple physics wouldn't look out of place in a Codemasters racing game.


Most of the military gear is easier to move around. The Predator drone made famous by Call of Duty allows you to steer a missile up the exhaust pipe of any car - or person - you choose. Better yet is the remote control gun. Rather than the done-to-death exploding RC car, this allows you to take control of any full-size vehicle you point it at. The potential for winding up your co-op partner by driving everything they try to steal into the nearest body of water is enormous.

Weapons also have a new four-stage upgrade system that visibly turns even the most average guns into something blatant and spectacular. This was one of the community's most requested features, so evidently all that internet bellowing wasn't in vain.

  1 2