Gun fights in Saints Row 3 can get tiresome because at times it feels like there are just way too many enemies coming at you from every angle. Once you hit more than three star notoriety for gangs, helicopters show up with sniper enemies taking deadly shots at you. For a good part of the game, bad guys take bullets like soft punches because you don’t have the rank or money needed to buy the pricey upgrades that would ease the challenge. This gets even more annoying when a new group is brought into Steelport to rid the city of the Saints. Even with these frustrations the gameplay is really enjoyable, but somewhat shallow.
When playing solo, your AI-controlled gang allies can’t revive you when your health hits zero. Instead you just die and fail the mission. Why the ability for them to revive you wasn’t put into the single player is baffling considering they accompany you for almost every mission in the game. Eventually through upgrades you’ll literally become invincible (immune to bullets), but on your first play-through that’s not really an option because the rank needed for it is incredibly high.
The AI-controlled Saints characters can be dumb and a hindrance, especially when playing the campaign alone. During one mission your partner is supposed to aim a tank’s laser at a truck you’re pursuing. You need to keep the truck intact to steal the package it’s carrying. Your partner apparently doesn’t understand this concept, because he would continue to wildly aim the laser all over the street until the truck and its cargo was eventually destroyed. His rage-inducing actions led to many mission failed screens. The difficulty is more of a problem in single-player, because in co-op you’ll hopefully have a competent partner.
There’s two different final missions and game endings. One of them is awfully boring because the stage is a comical piece that takes forever to finish and isn’t even funny. This is surprising considering how well the rest of the humor in the game worked. The other option does a solid job of finishing the game’s storyline. If you’re playing solo it takes a long time to actually beat the final stages because there’s about three consecutive missions during this path with what seems like an army of thousands to mow down.
Besides playing the story, there’s many sidequests to get done in Steelport. If you need a break from the campaign you can do more than 30 assassination contracts, steal special cars and nine different mission sets like Tank Mayhem, Escort and Trail Blazing. Each set has an increasing difficulty level and even the early stages can be hard. You can also collect sex dolls and drug packages around the city. Fortunately their amounts aren’t as exhaustive as Grand Theft Auto’s hidden packages. If you’re the type that needs to 100 percent a game, you can easily get 30-40 hours out of Saints Row 3.
Most players will shelf the game after finishing the story because the extracurricular activities are more frustrating than rewarding. A majority of the sidequests simply aren’t fun and worth the time playing. For example, Trail Blazing is a boring sidequest where you race around trying to get checkpoints on a ATV that’s on fire. The missions irritating since you’re under stressful restrictions. Causing chaos around Steelport is fun for a while but the novelty wears thin after you run out of story missions.
Tag Team Destruction
Saints Row 3 is made for co-op play. The Third supports two player online co-op, and it’s fluid through the entire story mode. If you don’t have a friend to play with, you can search for another player over the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live. In co-op, you bring your entire game with you to your friend’s Steelport. All your character’s attributes, from their look and all their stats, will transfer to your friend’s game. You can even access your phone and call up support from characters that your friend doesn’t have because they haven’t progressed as far as you in the story. When a mission is completed, both players earn respect and cash, regardless if they had previously done the mission or not. While driving around the city each person can tune to their own radio station, so you’ll never have to fight over song choices.
Unfortunately you’re going to need to redeem the game’s Online Pass to even play with friends. The Online Pass is included in all new copies of the game, but if you don’t have one you’ll need to buy it from the PlayStation Network Store or Xbox Live Game Marketplace for $10. Even worse, you need to download the Pass just to be able to system link for local co-op. This is one of the first cases of a game’s local system link being locked out because of an Online Pass.
The Third continues the franchise’s tradition of being glitchy and riddled with bugs. This is disappointing because the same problems were in Saints Row 2. At least in the single-player, nothing I encountered was game-breaking. However co-op is filled with way more problems than just playing solo.
Cars will bug out and get stuck below the pavement when you try to enter them. NPCs and your character will somehow move through a vehicle like a ghost. Your co-op partner can become frozen and won’t be able to move unless you run them over. Vehicles such as helicopters that are delivered to you from your phone will land upside down and explode. Several times my Xbox 360 system completely locked up, and I was unable to even access the Xbox Guide menu. This oddly happened to both mine and my co-op partners’ systems at the same time. The freezing and glitches make it a hassle to play, especially when they prevent you from beating a mission because you have to restart your console.
Some of the missions are played differently during co-op than they are in single-player. Sometimes one person will do all the work while the other sits back and watches. Other times a new gameplay element is added to the mission that wasn’t available in solo play. This freshens up the co-op experience, but can cause problems if one player isn’t as skilled in a particular area as the other because there’s no way to switch roles for the mission. Co-op play makes the ridiculousness of Saints Row 3 so much more enjoyable than it already is.
Besides co-op interactivity, The Third includes external social connections. You can upload your character to the official Saints Row 3 community website and other players will be able to download it and use that model in their game. Photos can be taken in-game and be uploaded to the website to share with others. On the website you can also check a detailed list of your game stats and compare it with other Saints Row 3 players. A real-time map of other people’s game happenings is also available. All these features require signing up for a THQ ID, which for most players probably isn’t worth the hassle of managing yet another online account in a world of server hackings and security breaches.
The boring competitive multiplayer from Saints Row 2 is replaced by “Whored” Mode, a tasteful crack at the name of Gears of War’s Horde mode. During Whored Mode, waves of enemies will rush at the player during a round until they’re all defeated. Whored Mode can be played either alone or over online co-op with another player on three different maps with more than 30 waves for each stage. It’s somewhat fun because with each new wave comes a quirky requirement, like killing over-sized mascots in hot dog suits. There’s also references to pop culture like the “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” and even other games such as Capcom’s Resident Evil. Whored Mode is nothing more than a distraction, because many of the waves can be finished in minutes and its novelty wears thin.
Saints Row: The Third aims for over the top fun and brings that formula to strange new heights. Unlike most releases from this generation, Saints Row 3 doesn’t take itself seriously, and that’s why it offers a truly unique experience. Although it has a lack of diversity in the mission structure and a story that’s missing focus and depth, Saints Row 3 is elevated through its humorous gameplay and characters. Even with technical bugs, the game is a blast during co-op play. With the key focus on humor, The Third risked falling totally flat. Instead its creativity shines throughout the game. There needs to be more developers and games that proudly claim comedy as their driving force.
- Music set pieces
- Cast of characters
- Diversity of mission objectives
- Full online co-op campaign mode
- Certain sections can be difficult in solo play
- Repetitive mission types
- Story is an afterthought
- Technical problems, especially in co-op
- Main sidequests
- Needs Online Pass
- “Whored” Mode gets old fast
The Xbox 360 version of Saints Row: The Third was purchased for $11 after promotional credit at Kmart. The single-player was completed in 15 hours and 50 minutes. Online co-op was played for an additional 9 hours and 25 minutes. As of publication, 23/60 achievements were obtained for 440 Gamerscore.
#1, 2 & 3 by THQ
Co-op screen by Quarter Disorder