Saints Row: The Third is THQ’s latest entry in the Saints Row series, which began as a tongue-in-cheek social commentary much like Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto franchise. As Grand Theft Auto veered more towards reality, Saints Row plunged headfirst into the absurd. The Third continues the plunge, as it is more ridiculous than its predecessor. The result is an absolute blast. Think “Scarface” directed by Michael Bay as an action comedy.
The Third continues the adventures of the anti-hero Third Street Saints gang. Having risen from the ashes in Saints Row 2, the Saints have become a global corporation and its members have become celebrities. Having defeated their competition in Stilwater, the Saints come under attack from some Eurotrash goons from Steelport at the beginning of the game. Shortly thereafter, the Saints set out to conquer Steelport, under the leadership of your nameless created character. Along the way, the Saints will contend with three new gangs, comprised of luchadores, cyberpunks, and the aforementioned Eurotrash, as well as the G.I. Joe-meets-Cobra-esque S.T.A.G. military force. One minute, you’re fighting off a zombie invasion under the supervision of Burt Reynolds. The next, you’re in a Tron-style cyber world, with a toilet for an avatar, blasting cyber demons.
In addition to upping the ridiculous factor, THQ streamlined the gameplay and created a tighter game. The controls will be familiar to series veterans; however, there are some new bells and whistles that take some getting used to. The Third plays more like an RPG than its predecessors. In addition to customizing your character’s appearance and vehicles, you can also customize your attributes and weapons. As you earn respect, you earn new attributes to unlock, which you can purchase with money earned in completing story line missions and diversions.
If you spend significant time in the side missions, earning respect and cash, you will be an unstoppable killing machine by the end of the game. This brings me to my only real complaint. The end seemed to come way too soon. Maybe it was because of the way the game is structured, but the Third felt much shorter than its predecessors. There is some flexibility in how you play the game, though, which merits repeated play-throughs. There are also upcoming expansion packs, which you can purchase through Xbox Live or the Playstation Network.
Despite its brevity, Saints Row: The Third is a worthy addition to the series. By changing the setting and implementing the new RPG-style elements, THQ managed to keep the series feeling fresh yet familiar. It’s obvious the game’s designers had a blast making the game and you will have a blast playing. I highly recommend Saints Row: The Third. — Pedro Moreno
Score: 9.0 out of 10
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