Although Saints Row started life as a GTA clone, the series’ journey into the realms of the silly and absurd have earned it a following all of its own. This direction truly began with Saints Row 2, but Saints Row: The Third manages to go a few steps further and ups the ante with the whole “over-the-top” thing. Now more than a bunch of crooks, your gang is a saleable image and has grown into a big business, calling for even more exaggerated larks in the city of Steelport.
Over the short time the character customisation tool, Initiation Station, was made available online, THQ reported figures of over 1 million different characters being created. The developers have stated that the emphasis of the game is on fun – a sentiment I agree with. Many games get so bogged down with realism they forget gaming is an escape, somewhere you won’t feel the consequences of your actions and a place where the concept of death doesn’t exist, as you can just click restart. The ridiculous get-ups are just one example of this. Running around in a gimp suit, battering people with a pink dildo baseball bat, was always going to split opinion. To many, probably most, it’s vulgar, but it at least shows that the game’s not taking itself too seriously.
The gameplay itself isn’t particularly special – just another shooting game. It’s the situations that you find yourself in during gameplay that really have the power to impress. Many other games are criticised for such unrealistic set-pieces as they only happen once, usually as a finale, but the fact that they happen throughout Saints Row: The Third makes them more acceptable. Whether these activities are story-driven or spring from some open-world exploration (read: pissing about), you know to take them with a pinch of salt and just enjoy the ride. This is your city. These are your rules. Strap it on.