Monday, November 28, 2011

"Saints Row: The Third" is over-the-top fun

Saints Row: The Third

Easter will never be the same ...
Easter will never be the same ...

Developed by: Volition
Published by: THQ
Available: NOW
Available on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, OnLive
Price: $59.99
Rating: M for Mature

It's funny when you look back on the history of Saints Row, it was really a direct rip-off of Grand Theft Auto. If GTA was the sneaky girl next door, who did things to draw attention but still wanted to appear to be respectful, Saints Row thrived on over-the-top, raunchy humor. It is the girl next door who will name guys she's slept with - will flash her tatas just because and when tell you when and where she wants you to lay her down. With this latest installment of Saints Row, she's no longer a parody but a fun game that continues to push the envelope and even take serious aim at the series it was a parody of.

Developed by Volition and published by THQ, Saints Row: The Third opens with the keeping it real gang called Saints from the fictitious burbs of Stilwater now a group of thugged-out celebrities - shooting movies, pimping energy drinks and getting paid to do it. To start things off, you find yourself in a bank shooting a scene. Before you realize it, you are doing more than shooting blanks. You're busting caps in your new town - Steelport - and putting your celeb status on ice to jack a safe - just like you saw in the movie Fast Five.

That's how the game starts off - loud, wrong, over-the-top and brash. The series has always been wild and loud, and this installment is all of that and then some. However, this one ups the features - weapons upgrades, a social network - no, really - and gang takeovers, where you end up owning your oppositions crib to feature extend your reach in Steelport.

The weapons - and the ability to upgrade - makes a world of difference. You can roll to Friendly Fire and if you have the loot, trick out your heat. My favorite weapon, by far, are the knockoff Predator drones. Got a hairy situation that needs some extra muscle? Drop a few well-placed missile to turn your haters into a weiney roast. You got tanks on your six? Use your eyes in the sky to light them up like a cheap pair of pleather pants.

Customizations are truly a work of art. From your face (head over to the plastic surgeon) to vehicles, there's no end to the number of personal touches you can do in this game.
The AI has been tweaked a bit as well. Even on easy, don't expect to just walk over these clowns. From the officers to the National Guard, even the Syndicate lieutenants and underlings, the enemies in The Third aren't pushovers.

Controls are tight - the only real issue I had was controlling cars at high rates of speed. The biggest gripe was skydiving. It was hard to control and fire at enemies. Not quite sure how I feel about the sequence, but when taken in context, the entire game is so unbelievable and I overlooked it.

Online is not really online of sort. You will need an online code (which you have to buy if you purchase the game used) to use the co-op mode. The co-op mode, first introduced in Saints Row 2, let you - or anyone online - assist you in the campaign mode. I didn't get a chance to fully test this out but know from the last offering, if the person you were hooking up with - or the person helping you - had cheats enabled, it would mess up your progress. Still, it's an awesome mode that THQ and other studios they assist are implementing.

There's a cool community feature that allows you to share screenshots, stats and game progress. You can also upload customized characters to share with other users.

There are three main modes - Campaign, Co-op Campaign and Whored Modes. The final one I will discuss is the Whored Mode. This mode, which is a direct rip of the famous COD Zombie modes, sends gang members (who appear to be man whores), zombies, midgets and strippers in waves at you. If you want to grab a dildo, slap a person without worrying about making it on Springer or in the Hairballs section of the Houston Press, unleash your freaky nature right here.

Overall, Saints is truly a fun game to play. What I really enjoyed most was the ability to do some crazy stuff, especially to NPCs who were mouthing off at me. The ability to take an enemy hostage rocks. The ability to throw said hostage off of a skyscraper and listen to them scream for a few floors? Epic.

The verdict: 9 (out of 10 stars) First, this game is not for children or anyone with strong, religious faiths. I can't recommend it for anyone of that nature. If you don't mind sex/college humor/drugs and scantily clad babes jiggling in front of you as you play, this is your game. However, when you have to explain to your wife/mom/others why you are slinging around a dildo with a session tagged 'Sausage Fest,' you need to rethink why you have this game in the first place.

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