Saints Row: The Third hands-on preview

“So press the Left trigger for a melee take down.” Drew Holmes, writer for Saints Row: The Third, said. We went ahead and innocently followed his instruction. Our character whipped around and kicked the nearest pedestrian, who just so happened to be some sort of balloon chested stripper nurse in a g-string. After knocking her to the ground, our character jumped on top of her and started whailing away, initiating a QTE. Befuddled, we obeyed the onscreen prompts mashing LT and RT as if we were Kratos and she was Zeus. “Okay, now press LT while running and you’ll do a running takedown.” Our character leapt forward and grabbed another pedestrian’s head from behind, leaping and slamming it into the concrete before flashing a smile and a reclining pose for the camera. And we haven’t even gotten to the two-handed purple dildo yet.

The more even keeled among you might be thinking, “Wow that’s pretty reprehensible behavior.” And while you’d be right, SR3 takes great care to present all of its absurdity in the most Tom and Jerry way possible. To say SR3 “Follows in its predecessor's footsteps” would be a gross understatement, as it’s jumped so far off the deep end that it makes SR2 look positively urbane. The only people who can take this level of cartoon violence seriously are elected officials intent on using it as an un-ironic example of how games are corrupting the kids.


The demo continued, with Drew showing us the game’s dedicated nutshot button that gives you a different crotch crushing melee attack depending on which weapon you have equipped. Everyone in the room cringed as our maniac went to town on a police officer’s testicles with the butt of his rifle. I could mention the standard pistol/shotgun/submachine gun options, but we’ll focus on Professor Genki's Mollusk launcher instead.

A Hello Kitty nightmare of bright pink and green, it’s a rocket launcher that shoots out tiny squids that can be remotely exploded, or if you tag an enemy with one, turn them into walking zombies that fight for you. While equipped, it constantly giggles and talks to you in a pseudo anime voice. We then gave some even more powerful weapons a shot, including a Hammer of Dawn like airstrike weapon that devestated a group of gang members, and a remote control drone strike that feels just like a Modern Warfare level. Oh, let's not forget our melee weapon, an undulating 4 foot long two handed dildo.

Saints Row's side missions, or activites, have always been entertaining, and we were excited to see some of our favorites return. The destruction focused Mayhem mode returns, encouraging you to do as much monetary damage as possible by blowing up everyone/thing in your path. FYI, a human life is apparently worth $103. The always entertaining Insurance Fraud mode also returns, a bizzaro version of Burnout's Crash mode, as you hurl yourself into vehicles and attempt to bounce your ragdolling body into the paths of other vehicles, racking up as much bodily damage as possible.

One of the new activities, entitled Professor Genki’s Super Ethcial Reality Climax is a sort of “Japanese game show meets Running Man” according to Drew. We ran from room to room, shooting guys dressed in ridiculous fish and gorrilla costumes, trying to keep our combo score alive by getting consecutive kills and shooting cardboard cutouts that popped up. Hitting the targets awarded cash, points and caused anime styled alerts like “ETHICAL” to pop up on screen.

The Saints series has always been the king of customization, especially since GTAIV abandoned a lot of the options from San Andreas, but Volition has gone above and beyond the call of duty with The Third. As before, characters can be fully customized; clothes and facial hair are gender neutral, and you're now allowed to pick any skin color you like. And we do mean any color. Our brief stint in the create a character mode resulted in an obese, metallic blue lady, with an F cup chest, cornrows and a pantsuit. A “Sex Appeal” slider lets you adjust your character’s bust/package size appropriately. As in previous games, your monstrous creation will appear in every cutscene as is, talking in whatever inappropriate accent you've given them.

While you might dismiss all this insanity as a flimsy veneer to mask weak gameplay, Saints Row: The Third is extremely adept at streamlining the fun stuff, and cutting out the boring bits. Stealing a car should be fun, but after watching the same canned 15 second hi-jacking animation for the millionth time, it gets old. Cue the running carjack, where your character leaps through the windshield and boots out the occupant almost instantly. Instead of forcing you to take cover and potshots at enemies, SR3 treats cronies as such and let's you cut them down like corn. They're only powerful in large groups, which makes encounters much faster, and much more fun. The new GPS HUD also puts large directional prompts on screen, letting you focus on the road instead of squinting at a mini-map.

If GTAIV was the good girl, the valedictorian you were proud to take home to mom, Saints Row 2 was the party girl you got plastered and smashed car windows with. Where GTAIV got a little caught up in making its own world believable at the expense of fun, Saints Row: The Third isn't attempting to win gravitas with the critics; its one and only goal is making a fun game that you can pick up and play. If you're easily offended, there's nothing we can say to change your mind, but underneath all the zaniness is one of the most immediately fun sandbox games we've played in a long time.

Saints Row: The Third will be available for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC November 15th 2011. Professor Genki’s Mollusk Launcher and the Genki Manapault vehicle are pre-order bonuses.

Aug 17, 2011


  • izzyisyourgoblinfriend - August 23, 2011 9:53 a.m.

    I never played one, but I liked two a whole lot. I was drawn into the story and the characters were memorable. Looking forward to this one.
  • EdDeRs1 - August 18, 2011 3:23 p.m.

    right, it may be not very imaganitive but, im fucking creating Rouge Trooper
  • Crypto140 - August 18, 2011 2:06 p.m.

    If you don't get this game, you must turn in your man card.
  • inkyspot - August 18, 2011 10:06 a.m.

    Can this game take any longer to come out. Come out earlier than November.
  • santaclouse37 - August 18, 2011 8:24 a.m.

    This looks bloody stonking awesome. And I'm not even British! That's just how cool it looks!
  • Deathdeisel - August 18, 2011 5:41 a.m.

    Im really glad to see saints row set itself apart from GTA. I dont know about you guys, but GTA4 was terrible, the rating were so heavily skewed on review sites it was unreal. It was boring, and lame, but real. This looks to be fun, addicting, and halarious, while not real, who effing cares. Hollywood shows us that we dont always want realism, but fun, actiony, bs.
  • doominatorx6 - August 18, 2011 4:37 a.m.

    A copy of San Andreas is flattery. San Andreas was the peak of the series, where as GTA4 failed (with the fans) because of Rockstar's boner for realism. Games aren't supposed to be about "realism." They're supposed to be about doing all the crazy shit that would get you arrested, or in this case, institutionalized, in reality. Kudos, Volition.
  • ObliqueZombie - August 18, 2011 4:36 a.m.

    I think... I'll go with Skyrim, Gears of War 3, Warhammer 40k: Space Marine, and Dead Island. But this'll probably be among the top three games I haven't already paid off to look out for.
  • ZigzMagoo - August 18, 2011 4:13 a.m.

    @kassmageant The comment was directed at the lack of a plausible story, as well as blatant copy of San Andreas. A double-sided purple dildo, a Jet Pack, Aliens, gay Rappers, and customizable characters was all done 7 years ago in San Andreas.
  • Pytor - August 18, 2011 3:56 a.m.

    This game looks like infinite fun!
  • Solstice - August 18, 2011 2:09 a.m.

    Total head turner. I can see my GTA IV collecting dust the second I get my hands on this game. A little bit bummed out about GTA V. There's no hints, spoilers, screenshots, or trailers to predict the game's forthcoming. I sure hope the game's as big as it's gonna be...3 years since GTA IV came out.
  • birdro - August 18, 2011 1:55 a.m.

    GR you deceptive lot. Renaming the article I already read ever so slightly and moving it to page-topper status. Got my hopes up but I enjoyed the article the first time so keep any info on this coming.
  • Jdub9064 - August 18, 2011 1:53 a.m.

    This game is insanity, I cannot wait to play it!
  • Yeager1122 - August 18, 2011 1:22 a.m.

    Was skaepitical of this game at first but i gotta say its really started to grow on me.
  • DualWieldingIsNotFeasible - August 17, 2011 10:06 p.m.

    The GTA series is dead to me. I won't say the games are bad (they're not), but everything in GTA IV felt like a grey, boring chore instead of a fun diversion. In contrast, SR2's candy-coated insanity was pure joy. Yeah, the story and characters are weak, but who needs good writing when you're ramping a firetruck into heavy traffic while dressed in a hotdog suit?
  • Baron164 - August 17, 2011 10:05 p.m.

    I can't wait for November, I loved Saints Row 2 and this one looks even more insane and fun than the last :-)
  • kassmageant - August 17, 2011 9:58 p.m.

    @ zigzmagoo feel sorry for ya, probably you're to busy squuezing 2 more MHZ from overclocking your 50 core gaming rig CPU to see that this game is actually insanely FUN. But we can't blame you, you're too busy being superior high-end-PC gamer. good for you, sir.
  • jazxsora - August 17, 2011 9:36 p.m.

    Please tell me I can have my Australian guy from the second game. I cracked up when he got angry and shouted in his heavy Australian accent "NO ONE FUCKS WITH THE SAINTS!"
  • ZigzMagoo - August 17, 2011 9:25 p.m.

    I bet the developers were like "We can never be as good as GTA, so lets just be as balls out crazy as possible to compensate" This game looks fucking terrible
  • 435 - August 17, 2011 8:36 p.m.

    It hurts me that it's still so far off. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANT. Q_Q

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