Friday, 9 December 2011

Saints Row: The Third - Rise to Power!

VTOLs FTW!I make this look goodT
here are games that try and draw players in with a compelling storyline and then there’s Saints Row: The Third, a simple game that wears its over-the-top attitude proudly on its sleeve. It unleashes players into an open world setting, hands them a rocket launcher and dials the crazy to 11, but as enjoyable as the game is, it does have its share of issues that prevent it from being a must-buy. 

After the events of Saints Row 2, the Saints have now become a household name, commercialising completely on their name with a clothing brand, bobble heads, energy drinks and more. While they enjoy the view from the top, there are many who conspire to bring them down and one of these organisations called the Syndicate succeeds in doing so. Now the Saints must rebuild their empire, kick tons of ass on the way and have fun while doing so.
I make this look good
I make this look good

The game starts off with a bang pummelling players with some impressive set-pieces after which things slow down a notch and the game settles down to its normal pace. This means you’ll have to approach various people for missions, take over territories, buy businesses and customize the crap out of your character. It’s the same mission structure you experienced in the second game and while some missions stand out in particular, most tend to become clichéd open-world fetch quests. It’s a bit ironic, if you think about it since Saint’s Row 2 mocked GTA IV’s repetitive mission structure, but now its predecessor has descended into the same monotony that plagued Rockstar’s open-world game. The saving grace, however is the zany take on each mission that distinguishes SRTT from the more serious games out there.

Like older games, the whole city is yours for the taking from the word go, but unlike previous games from this series, you’re no longer funnelled through side activities to unlock story based missions. This is kind of is a doubled edged sword, as now I don’t feel the need to go out of my way to perform them. Money is also never a problem in this game and you’ll earn more than enough, while completing story based missions.

On the plus side, most of these activities are immense fun in their own way, so even if they’re not forced down your throat, you really don’t mind engaging in them because they’re so damn cathartic. I mean who doesn’t like driving a tank around a block with an unlimited supply of rockets to cause as much damage as humanly possible? Special mention goes out to a particular side quest called Professor Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax (yes, that’s the real name), a weird hybrid of the Running Man and Japanese reality TV where players must navigate a bunch of obstacles, kill some dudes and make it to the end. It doesn’t sound like much on paper, but it’s a pretty intense diversion. What I find baffling is that Volition axed certain activities like Septic Tank and Crowd Control from this game instead of retaining a boring one like Escort. It was due to these omissions, I felt SRTT lacked the content its predecessor had to offer.SRTT is high on crude humour, so if that’s not your thing, stay far away from this game. There are all sorts of juvenile jokes and jabs at other pop cultural references from Star Wars to Tron to other video games. Most of the game’s humour may not make you laugh out loud, but it will make sure you have a goofy smile plastered across your face at most times. Sometimes though, it does feel a bit stale and overused. For example, the first time I came across Zimos, a T-Pain inspired pimp who constantly speaks in auto-tune, I was amused, but after hearing him go on and on in that voice for five consecutive mission, I wanted to strangle him with my bare hands. 

Once you’re done with the campaign, you could dive back in to play it with another player in co-op. since competitive play has completely been axed from this game. Instead you have a Hord.. I mean ‘Whored’ mode where players face off waves of enemies in a bid to survive. The Horde mode retains the game’s quirky sense of humour, so in one wave you’ll be beating up an ‘X’ amount of gimps with a giant purple dildo, while in the other you may be forced to slice through dudes dressed as giant hot dogs. As weird as that sounds, it is a boat load of fun and a good diversion from the clichéd way of playing this mode.
Real men don't use parachutes
Real men don't use parachutes

Visually the game is impressive provided you have a beefy rig to boot. In DX 11, the game looks positively gorgeous and Volition have done a brilliant job in porting this game to the PC. Stillwater itself is very well detailed and everything from level design to character/vehicle models look top notch. The PC version also handles real well, as the game controls flawlessly with the mouse and keyboard. 

Unfortunately the game’s plagued by a bunch of glitches and bugs. Some are amusing and harmless like having your car disappear under a bridge or watching characters clip through the ground or get stuck in one place, while others are more serious and frustrating especially when they occur during missions. At times, an event won’t trigger forcing you to restart the mission all over again, while at times, certain vehicles you’re supposed to hijack or destroy will be completely invisible.  Even though none of these bugs or glitches were particularly game breaking ones, they did hamper my experience with this game and I personally felt it was sloppy on Volition’s part to release a game with these many issues, especially after they put in so much effort in the PC version.
This is exactly what it looks like
This is exactly what it looks like

Issues aside, I had a blast with this game. The humour, like I said earlier may be hit and miss for some, especially if you’re not too fond of the whole gangster culture. Even then, I would recommend this game from a gameplay perspective, as it offers something a lot of games don’t seem to bring to the table today, mindless fun.

Test Rig:

Motherboard: Intel DP67BG Extreme Desktop series
Processor: Intel Core i7 - 2600K @3.40 GHZ
Graphic Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590
Ram: Corsair Vengeance 4GB DD3 @ 1600 MHZ X2
Power Supply: Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 1200W

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