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This game is one of the few I had very little knowledge about. I quite literally saw two YouTube videos featuring the gameplay for it and oddly decided to get it based on those two videos alone, which featured the most random craziness I've ever witnessed in a video game. I don't remember what exactly happened in the videos, but I can tell you, it was weird.
And the word "weird" pretty much sums up the entire game.
The story is one that is sort of generic but not so generic that its cliche. I can only describe it as the thin line between "barely original" and "barely cliche".
The plot involves a street gang turned media empire known as the "Third Street Saints" that has its finger in pretty much every pie in various industries in the United States; such as a Saints Row movie and an energy drink cleverly named "Saints Flow" that is purportedly "ass-tasting" as described by one of the main characters Johnny Gat. Anyways, these "Third Street Saints" are the hip, new thing in the country, but as stated in the game's (intentionally cheesy Star Wars rip-off) opening, "it was only a matter of time before someone took the fight to the Saints"... and to say the least, someone does. A criminal organization simply called "the Syndicate" wades into the picture when the Saints (comprised of the unnamed player character, Shaundi, Johnny Gat and some other guy who is apparently an actor in the game's universe) unknowingly rob a huge bank that belongs to the Syndicate and the Saints are captured by law enforcement. Brought onto a plane high above the city of Steelport, the Saints find that the Syndicate leader Phillipe Loren is negotiating a rather unfair business plan which would force them to turn over more than half of the revenue earned in Stilwater, the city they used to control. However, the plan goes awry, and the Saints escape except for Johnny, who stays behind and is killed by Loren's forces. At this point, the plot pretty much becomes a revenge story against the Syndicate, which is almost as equal as the Saints in terms of influence. As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that the Syndicate is more powerful than the Saints, and that it will take more than just the player and his cohorts to fight the organization.
I could go on and on about the crazy stuff that happens in the game, but that would take forever... and my hands are already getting sore from typing. Like I said, the game's story is not as original as one may think, but the story is enteraining enough that it makes up for it. The story even has some good pop-culture-related humor that I admittedly chuckled at on several occasions.
Overall, the story is good enough.
Rating: 6.7 out of 10
Oh, where to begin...
The gameplay in Saints Row: The Third can be summed up like this:
"The blue cow goes... BARK BARK."
Yes, it's that chaotic.
But don't let that dissuade you from getting this game. The overall sense of gameplay may be incredibly random and very silly, but it's fun. The gameplay is essentially the long-lost nephew of Grand Theft Auto that has bipolar disorder, an exotic form of schizophrenia and possible Down syndrome. The only thing I can say is... if you are a very serious person, then you will not like this game. The amount of free reign in this game is unbelievable in the fashion that you can make your character a metallic gold color and deform his/her face to look like an allergy-stricken obese man with hives and a multitude of other abnormalities. At first, I did not appreciate the game's sense of detachment from the norm, and I made my character as normal as possible, but teased myself with the funny customization options. However, as I continued deeper into the story, I found myself making my character as ugly as humanly possible and giving him the craziest combination of clothes one couldn't even fathom.
Character customization aside, one important chunk of the gameplay is the free-roaming aspect. While not exactly a model of San Andreas or Liberty City, the islands of Steelport provide enough exploration to satisfy even Magellan's curiosity (which oddly enough, there is a trophy/achievement called "Gellin Like Magellan" which requires the player to find 20 or so notable locations in Steelport).
Another important gameplay feature is the action. Much like the character customization, the action is sometimes very silly, and there's even an option to perform really crazy wrestling moves on enemies like a DDT. Yes... a DDT. Disregarding that, the action is pretty straightforward, and there's a wide array of weapons to choose from like shotguns, machine guns, grenades, farts in jars... yes, you read that right. There is a weapon known as a "Fart in a Jar" which is not only an offensive weapon, it KILLS people! There's also a giant purple dildo bat thing which you can buy pretty cheap at any weapon store and from there, you can use it as a deadly weapon. Yep.
Anyways, the gameplay is pretty fun, but it's not entirely what I'd call "smooth" or "revolutionary" by any chance. I've uncovered several notorious glitches particularly when facing off against the roided-up mutant guys (don't even ask) and when driving. The ragdoll engine is also very odd. A philosophy I've always had with games is that if you can actually take an hour out of your day by just wrecking your character and seeing how much damage you can do them, then it's a good game. However, I have a hard time trying to be satisfied when my character gets hit by a car and ends up flying in the air. It's just not appealing at all.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
The characters in this game are pretty random much like the story and the gameplay, but there are a couple that are... normal enough. Anyways, the main highlights include a pimp named Zimos who must have swallowed an auto-tuner, because everything he says-- or sings, is tuned like a bad Chris Brown song. Another is Oleg, a roided up mutant guy (fine, I'll explain it) who is essentially a super soldier cloned from strange, bubbly vats. He's the only one who is friendly in the game. The others are mean... and quite annoying.
There's not a lot to really say about the characters. They're good, they're random and some of them are... yeah.
Rating: 5.9 out of 10.
The graphics are pretty fantastic. Shadows are not pixelated, and cars actually shine in the vibrant sunlight within the game. The character models are well designed (especially the womens'... giggity) and the graphics actually contribute to the car customization feature. Because of the graphics, I am actually intrigued by what my car will look like if I tweak it a certain way, so that's a definite plus.
'Rating': 8.1 out of 10.
While there is an option to change the difficulty setting, there are moments where even if I'm playing on EASY, the game gets a little bit too harsh, especially when I'm facing off against the other gangs. You just cannot shake the gangs unless you quite literally outrun them and make sure you hide, or you hide in a pre-owned establishment.
Difficulty Rating: Possible.
Almost non-existent. There is an option to play co-op free roam and "Whored Mode" (yes, that's what it is called), but that's about it. Not very impressive. I can predict that by the time you have played with a friend about ten times, the aspect of co-op will get slightly old; but that's just me.
Rating: 4.8 out of 10
While the main plot and side-missions remain the same, I'd say the only reason to really replay the game is to see the different customization options and the other branching storyline in the ending (yep, there's two endings!).
Replay Value: Slightly poor.
There's not a lot I can say about the glitches, but I have ran into a couple that have impeded gameplay, but have not essentially "broken" it. The main glitches are (like I said) with driving and facing off against the super mutants.
Glitch Rating: Occasional.
Overall, I give this heaping mound of random craziness a...
7.4 out of a possible 10
With the rather entertaining story, straightforward gameplay, non-frequent glitches, beautiful graphics and passable difficulty albeit a disappointing multiplayer function and replayability, Saints Row: The Third offers some good, old-fashioned fun with no worries. If you're an avid action/free-roam player willing to put up with the goofy themes and references, then you're sure to enjoy this game.