The Last Time a Big Naked Dude Said He Could Help Me, It Did Not End Well.
It’s hard for me to say that I invested a lot of time into a game in the wake of Skyrim. But, if you forget about that particular game, I have invested a pretty good amount of time in today’s review. That’s just how it goes for sandbox games. Today’s sandbox game is the third part in a series the people have (rightly) called somewhat of a ripoff of another game series, one that I tend to call “overrated”. How could I possibly enjoy this game if it’s a swagger jack of Grand Theft Auto, which I don’t like that much? We’ll see today, in my review of Saint’s Row: The Third, developed by Volition, Inc., published by THQ, and starring the voices of Daniel Dae Kim, Danielle Nicolet, Hulk Hogan, Sasha Grey, Alex Desert, Tim Thomerson, Andrew Bowen, Rick D. Wasserman, Arif S. Kinchen, and Burt Reynolds.
The Third Street Saints (Lead by us) have kind of turned sellout, putting out energy drinks and movies and other stuff, but they still find the time to rob a bank now and then. That’s where we start. We join Johnny Gat (Daniel Dae Kim), Shaundi (Danielle Nicolet), and an actor trying to get into the character of a gangster, Josh Birk (Andrew Bowen), to rob a bank. Things start to go wrong as we blow a hole in the roof above the safe and try to have it airlifted out, but we get attacked by the Syndicate and get captured. We wake up on the airplane of the leader of the Syndicate, but we’re quick to escape. After a battle on the plane, then one off the plane, then one THROUGH the plane, then back off the plane, we are back on the ground, minus one Johnny Gat. In the new town of Steelport, we find it necessary to get our gang back on it’s feet, and we must go against the Syndicate to do so.
Much like the game series that inspired this one, I feel that Saint’s Row: The Third is a touch overrated, at least from what I’ve seen about it. It’s a solid game with a lot of fun elements, but it can get a little repetitive and my copy of the game was rife with glitches. The story is solid and filled with dialogue that is either trying to hard too be controversial and failing to be entertaining and things that are just plain funny. Not only that, but they pepper in a great deal of pretty solid references that I appreciated. The game opens up with the familiar Star Wars scroll. I liked the reference, but the writing it was delivering was a really big failure in the comedy department. In the taunts you can choose from, one of them is the Daniel-San, where he does an imitation of the Crane style from the movie. That’s a joke anyone could make, but what got me was that the character yells “I’ll put YOU in a body bag!” while doing it. THAT’s a solid reference. The challenge you achieve for completing the Assassination missions is called “Everything is permitted”, which is a reference to Assassin’s Creed. At one point, your ally wants you to overcome your fears, so he makes you drive a car with a tiger in the passenger’s seat a la Ricky Bobby. There’s also a mission called “Stop All the Downloading” and an achievement named “Porkchop Sandwiches”, both of which are references to the hilarious Fensler Films GI Joe parodies. Most of the characters in this game are pretty good and surprisingly well thought out. Our teammate Kenzie is a cute and highly paranoid hacker that I just found adorable. Zimos is a pimp with a voice box that auto-tuned everything he said, so pretty much everything he said made me laugh. Also, Burt fuckin’ Reynolds is the mayor of Steelport. BURT … FUCKING … REYNOLDS!
The joys and frustrations I had in this game came from the gameplay. Over the top violence was battling against cars getting stuck in crucial moments to find out whether I would be thoroughly entertained or overly aggravating. It’s all third-person shooter with the ability to hop into vehicles at random. The guns are your basic variety that tend to get better as you upgrade them. Pistols (that turn explosive with upgrades), rifles and shotguns (that can be lasers as you advance), SMGs, Rocket Launchers, etc. All pretty typical stuff … except for the giant dildo. Yes, this game allows you to beat down your enemies with a giant purple dildo. There are also interesting melee things to be found, such as running up and punching an enemy to do a finisher on them, or run up and press the button to enter a vehicle to dive through a window, Bo Duke style. This stuff all worked for me with little to no complaints. I did get annoyed with how fast your notoriety could ramp up, sending waves and waves of enemies at you that you couldn’t hold ground against, but this get’s more manageable as you upgrade yourself. The stuff I typically got annoyed with was the driving. I’ve never found the driving in these games that well done. You can drive through almost anything, but randomly there are electrical poles that will stop you in your tracks. I also found myself getting stuck against walls a few times. And heaven help you if you get a flat tire. With as well-polished and fun as the rest of the game was, I found these little mistakes extra annoying. Occasionally, mouth animations would also not match up to what the people were saying, and I found it extra annoying that the game tips didn’t seem to go away until the final third of the game. Alright, game, I got it! They also did a part of the game that I found very entertaining when we were put into a computer game that was being controlled by someone else. Some parts of it were really cool and funny, but they also made the boss able to cause us to lag. I know they did this on purpose, but people hate lag in games for a reason, so you probably should put it in your game. On the other hand, I really liked the look of some of the trailblazer missions that looked like Tron, and I really liked the Insurance Fraud missions that came back from previous games that require you to jump in front of cars for money. Those were good times.
Music is also a somewhat important part of games like this. Once the Grand Theft Auto games started putting actual licensed music in their games, it added an extra level of fun. Now we could do these ridiculous things while listening to music that we like! This game keeps such an idea going by putting lots of licensed music in their game. They have a very eclectic selection of music in this game, including rock, techno, reggaeton, and some music from Adult Swim TV shows. Rap seemed to be the biggest selection (as would be appropriate for this kind of game), but I felt their Metal selection was not to my liking. I did, however, play their 80’s music on repeat, running people over to what seemed to be the soundtrack to the Rocky movies. I AM the best … around, and nothings going to ever keep me down. You may, in fact, need a hero, and I imagine you are holding on for a hero till the end of the night, but you need to relax. There’s no easy way out, after all. No shortcut home, whatsoever.
It’s goofy, ridiculous, and bombastic, but it’s a pretty damned good amount of fun. The glitches I encountered were few and far between, but I found them so annoying it dampened my affections for the game. The story was nice and fun, and the gameplay was ridiculous and satisfying, but I found that there were a few places that could have used a little more polish. The achievements will mostly come to you by the time you complete the game with very little mopping up afterwards, but you do need to pay attention to a few things so that you don’t get rid of all the other gangs when you need them for some achievements. If you love the GTA series, but think they take themselves too seriously, this is the game for you. Either way, there’s some good fun to be had. Saint’s Row: The Third gets “It’s like a helicopter fucked a jet!” out of “Oh yeah? You and how many of your … oh, that many…”
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