Any time a sequel is developed fans of a franchise generally want to see it take things to the next level compared to the previous games and nowhere has this been more prevalent than with the Saints Row series. Originally starting as a fairly generic clone that many didn’t bat an eye at in 2006 the series kept getting bigger and more extravagant with every entry up to the point that the player literally had super powers and fought both space aliens and the demons of hell. Still, it has been five years since the most recent entry in the franchise and now Volition and Deep Silver are revisiting the game that helped bridge the gap between normalcy and lunacy that is Saints Row with Saints Row: The Third Remastered. Arriving nine years after its original release with a graphical upgrade and all DLC in tow, is this package worth picking up?
Five years have passed since the 3rd Street Saints managed to claim full ownership of Stillwater and have since evolved far beyond being a simple gang and instead are now pop culture icons that have brands of clothing, a mass media following, awful tasting energy drinks, and even a movie being produced about the group’s less than legal exploits. While trying to show an actor how the 3rd Street Saints roll, the leaders of the gang hold a bank robbery only to find that they have bit off way more than they could chew this time around as the bank is not only fortified but heavily defended by a strangely dressed organization.
Despite the group’s best efforts, the head members of the Saints are captured by the Syndicate criminal empire and given the choice to either join them as lackey’s or die. Not one to give up without a fight, the boss manages to escape the situation only to find themselves transplanted to the city of Steelport with not a penny to their name and only a gang member’s ex-boyfriend’s place to crash at. With help from old allies from Steelport and a number of new faces that join their cause to take down the Syndicate, it is up to the 3rd Street Saints to once again take down a massive criminal empire and make another city fall under their control, even if it means eventually taking down a government force to do it.
Of course players will do this with their own custom created character that can be dressed to the nines in a full suit, or in anything from standard gangster wear to space princess costumes, fantasy outfits, and even zombie clothing as once again Saints Row: The Third Remastered shines at its brightest when it isn’t taking things seriously. This is partially due to how great many of the characters in the series are and the interactions they have with not only one another but with the player’s created character. The conversations the groups have feel rather organic in the context of the world and this has helped make a few of these characters remain mainstays in the minds of fans, even if they may need to be mentioned first to remind them.
The wacky and crass nature of the writing in the game allows for the story to go to extremely odd places at times and constantly keep players guessing as to what level the game could go to next. That being said, it is worth noting that those who are returning to the game will find that the story remains the same as before with players given a few choices here and there and while there is DLC included in this package as well, the extra story content in these packages serve more as a way to bridge the “unique” leap that the series takes between this entry and the fourth game in the series.
In many ways players will find that Saints Row: The Third Remastered plays the same as they may remember as the standard mechanics have not changed. What they will find is that they will almost immediately be given access to a wide array of DLC weapons that are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to zany weaponry and odd vehicles that possess special weapons to devastate enemies. These extra missions can also be played at any point should the player choose through the easy to use in-game cellphone that helps trigger most missions.
While traveling through the city of Steelport players will once again need to build their “reputation” to gain levels and strengthen their character with stat boosts purchased with money and also take part in a wide variety of missions. These missions range from standard ones assigned to the player by NPCs in an effort to advance the story to side-activities scattered around the map that make for an eclectic mix of hit and miss missions such as the ever enjoyable “Insurance Fraud” and mayhem modes and the lackluster guardian angel and escort missions.
The third person shooting mechanics remain fairly solid in nature, albeit a bit slow feeling as they were developed in 2011 especially when it comes to swapping weapons, while both driving and flying around are as simple as they have always been. The player’s actions will also adjust accordingly depending on whether or not the player is running, transforming nut-shot melee strikes into over-the-top wrestling moves and standard car-jacking into window bashing dropkicks, making sure that players always feel like they are on the move.
Similar to the stiffness that players will occasionally feel when it comes to the game’s shooting mechanics, the actual gameplay encounters with standard enemies also remain fairly generic in nature. The game continues to feature “notoriety” that will draw ever more powerful members of a gang or police to the player until they die or evade them but these foes all act about the same as one another outside of a few special enemy types that depend on the faction being fought at the time. This leads to general battles against enemy groups being fairly repetitive in nature and even the strange weapons that players can bring to the fight can only alleviate this repetition so much.
Visuals & Audio
Immediately upon beginning the game players will notice that there has been a lot of attention paid to make sure that the character models for at least the primary story characters in Saints Row: The Third Remastered have been revamped touched up to look the best they ever have in the series’ history as Sperasoft has done a great job making these characters look extremely impressive. The same can be said in regards to the vehicles and clothing options in the game, though the player customization remains the same as before it has also been touched up a bit to match the same style as the story models. Unfortunately the enemy models haven’t been given the same level of care, meaning that while they have been given a graphical improvement these enemy models still remain far too similar to one another as players gun down countless foes that all look the same.
It is nice to note that the city, while remaining a bit bland in places, has seen a graphical improvement as well with some nice looking areas that really benefit from the game’s newly designed lighting system that happens to look extremely gorgeous during night sequences and various visual effects that have been applied to make the city look impressive all while the player is dressed like a werewolf.
Fans will appreciate that the same stellar voice acting that was presented back in 2011 still holds strong today as the characters are all presented with their original voice work and continue to nail the theme of the game perfectly here even if it isn’t re-recorded and the soundtrack generally presented through the radio stations on the car while driving around though occasionally outside of vehicles as well, continues to feature a great collection of tracks regularly broken into with fun little updates about how the Saint’s exploits are changing the city.
It has been some time now since the 3rd Street Saints haven’t found themselves imbued with superpowers or fighting demons but this trip back to a time where the gang still had at least one foot on the ground is a great one as Saints Row: The Third Remastered continues to hold up even nine years after its original release through strong storytelling and the willingness to embrace a crude style of humor that is willing to push the envelope about as far as most games can these days. With a graphical upgrade to better match it up with current-gen platforms, this collection may not offer any real new content to longtime fans and some mechanics do feel a bit aged but this trip back to Steelport is one that any open world fan should give a second look.