Today at their Tokyo Game Show press conference, THQ revealed some details for their upcoming game Saints Row The Third. The first glimpse into the game came in the form of a short trailer, which features the Saints infiltrating a group of cyber criminals called the Deckers. Characters delve into a virtual reality world (ala the Matrix/Neuromancer) in order to defeat the team of cyber criminals. I thought this idea of a virtual world within a virtual world was rather interesting, especially when the phrase: “in the real world you’re just a bitch with the keyboard” was uttered. But lets steer away from that and onto more announcements!
Even bigger news came when celebrated Japanese Game designer, Tomonobu Itagaki graced the stage, revealing his fondness for the game after watching the trailer at E3, and another 14 viewings following the first. It was then announced that Itagaki himself would be a playable character in Saints Row The Third, featuring his trademark leather jacket and sunglasses. THQ showcased the high levels of customizability the game will have, before allowing us to get a hands on look at the game itself.
While the characters were already pre-designed by the time I turned up, some a little more appropriate than others, I still had the chance to edit the character. Built into the game are clothing shops, tattoo parlors and even a plastic surgeon, that allow for players to design and modify their playable character in amazing new ways.
Picking up where the player before me left of, with a guy in a green and blue superhero outfit, I roamed the streets getting the feel of the controls. Volition studio manager Eric Barker gave me a few pointers that helped make the game a lot more enjoyable than my initial roaming the streets throwing grenades.
Firstly, while walking around, you are able to sprint. While this feature may not seem like the most exciting news, it does mean that with a press of a button, your character will spring into a randomly generated melee attack and ground what ever poor victim is next to you. The maneuvers are clearly inspired by wrestling games, including power bombs and some rather aerodynamic jump kicks. I should also note that you are able to jump from tall buildings (in a single bound) and land safely, with the help of a parachute. While it isn’t ever visible until deployed, I am willing to accept this paradox mainly because the game is designed to be very out there, not to mention I am happy my character is able to land safely from dangerously high jumps. Another handy game element branching from sprinting includes being able to jump through car windows while running in order to steal them.
After rocketing through a glass window and driving away from the scene of the crime, I noticed a few other handy little game elements that stood out. Most notable was the GPS system, which as you can imagine, is accessible from the map and gives you directions to locations within the game world. I used this to find my way over to Professor Genki to par take in his Super Ethical Reality Climax. This is basically a little side game in the form of a shooting gallery. I didn’t have the time to develop the shooting skills to make my way through without being killed, but still really enjoyed the challenge. This and a few weapons developed by the Professor, such as the octopus gun, are some of the few new elements that are coming to the Saints Row Franchise.
At first I was unimpressed by Saints Row The Third. I am a bit of a stickler when it comes to the rules of games, and prefer a solid story line grounded in set rules and boundaries. After roaming around and conducting some open play, I found myself easily bored, but that is just me. When I started to get into the missions and the side quests, I found the game pretty enjoyable. Granted, I only played a demo and didn’t get to cater the experience to my personal taste as much as the developers allow you too so I can’t comment on what the increased player agency might bring to the formula in terms of game experience. Regardless, the anticipation for the release of Saints Row The Third is high, and with the release date set for the 15th of November in North America and the 17th in Japan, it won’t be long until you can experience Saints Row The Third too.