Saints Row: The Third [First Impressions]

Posted: November 16, 2011 by Tim Utley in Impressions
Tags: , , , , ,

I am about 4 hours into Saints Row: The Third and the Saints once again prove that Prince isn’t the only person who can make the color purple look awesome.  I have been a fan of Saints Row for quite some time now, but this latest iteration has abandoned the identity crisis this franchise was suffering from.  Saints Row wasn’t sure if it wanted to compete with GTA or set a different standard for sandbox games, but The Third clarifies its new direction with charm, unquestionable style and the delivery of an unadulterated over the top experience.  Like I said I am only a few hours in but I’ll break it down for you the best I can.

Graphics

The graphics in this game are far and away the best in the series.  Saints Row has never been a heavy hitter in terms of graphics, but this game has a great art style (especially Genki) that has improved over each entry and that hasn’t changed with The Third.  The game has great effects and puts them into practice quite often.  The opening sequence is indicative of that and if you play it you will catch my drift (sorry about being vague, don’t want to drop any spoilers).  The city of Steelport looks great and has an adequate amount of detail.  The city really looks its best at night when everything is lit up and the city looks like one huge carnival.

Presentation

The game has a great presentation and a crazy amount of customization options.  You can customize your character, your rides, and your gang just to name a few.  The menu systems are intuitive and extremely easy to navigate.  You have your standard menu to save and load your game and you have your cell phone menu that organizes missions, challenges and the game’s GPS features.  The game’s extreme approach to everything also leaks into the mission interface too and when you complete a mission you are met with a bumping dance track and some silly close up; it really gets you pumped for the next mission or just cruising around Steelport.  The story is a continuation from SR2, but newcomers will not be left in the dark if they pick up The Third.  Lastly the game has a really good licensed soundtrack (hard to believe I know) with a variety of music that will please almost every audience.  Not going to lie, I was surprised to hear Between the Buried and Me, but I digress.

Gameplay

The gameplay has improved, but not as dramatically as some might have wanted.  The shooting mechanics are pretty similar to the first two games, but with weapon upgrades the controls will tighten up a bit.  The driving however has seen some major improvements.  The driving controls are extremely polished and driving in this game is a blast.  Also the performance upgrades will enhance your driving experiences greatly.  You won’t be able to turn a jalopy into a Lambo, but you can certainly make it a vehicular homicide machine.  The hand to hand combat has seen some refinements with the addition of quicktime moments that will be triggered during select encounters.  These range from the mundane to the extreme as well; you will usually combine a flurry of punches with either shooting someone in the head and or shoving a grenade in their mouth (only if you have one though).  Still a quality exercise in the extreme nonetheless.  Almost forgot this, but when you are running you can perform a myriad of maneuvers as well such as DDTs (wrestling move), bulldogs (another wrestling move), running dropkicks, thunderous clotheslines and that is just for combat.  Also when running you can tackle enemies that are shooting at you and jump into vehicles via the driver’s window or windshield.  Some neat new additions that really spice up the on foot action.

Sound

The Third has good sound effects, but the sound has the propensity to cut out on occasion.  Whenever gun fights escalate above just a few combatants gunfire and other miscellaneous sound effects drop in and out and it can get annoying.  Or when you are driving around and the car sound effects drop out and the only thing you can hear is the radio.  It hurts the experience when it happens, but it doesn’t happen so often that it is a major flaw to the game, but it is a flaw unfortunately.  Beyond that the voice acting is good and radio ads are as humorous as ever.  Like I mentioned before The Third has a good licensed soundtrack as well (even integrated into a mission, thought that was cool).

Closing Comments

I am still early on, but I can wholeheartedly say that is game is super fun and while it might not be for everyone fans of the series will get their fix.  I have finished 20% of the game in 4 hours so if I do some quick math that puts this game probably in the range of 20-25 hours (factoring in some side missions).  I consider that a pretty good length and I finished Saints Row 2 in about the same amount of time.  You can probably finish it quicker if you just plow through the main missions, but this game has a great deal to offer and I highly suggest checking it out.  I’m not sure if I will get around to doing a full review of this game, but I hope this gives you a good idea of what to expect from Saints Row: The Third if you decide to pick it up.

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I purchased Saints Row: The Third for $60 on Xbox 360.  I have invested 4 hours into the game completing 20% of it.  Saints Row: The Third is available for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.

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