Saints Row: The Third massive hands-on preview

Imagine a room filled with serious gaming pundits, arguing over the musty old trope of “Are games art?” Dour faces abound and serious glares indicate that this is an important issue that we must discuss. Suddenly, a fat man in a Hawaiian shirt and groucho marx glasses bursts into the room waving a purple dildo in everyone’s face while ripping huge farts. The man presses a button on his remote control and a small army of prostitutes floods the room while a huge stereo emerges from the floor. The pundits suddenly forget what they were talking about and start to enjoy themselves. This man is Saints Row: The Third, and he has come to save us from this boring discussion.

What better venue for a Saints Row preview than the legendary capital of excess and sleaze, Hollywood? Where fame hungry costume clad celebrity impersonators walk the streets under the seedy buzz of neon signs, and the porn HQ of the world grinds away only a few miles adjacent? THQ generously gave us free reign with Saints Row: The Third's main story, co-op and the new“Whored” mode. Naturally, that’s not a typo.While the tidal wave of AAA holiday titles is well underway, SR3 stands in the unique position of being the only major sandbox game being released this season. The fact that its completely gone off the rails doesn't hurt either. 

Saints Row is well known for it's absurdity and appreciation of "blue" humor. That means dick and poopy jokes. To be fair thought, the game is filled with wry observations and some biting pop culture satire; musicians sell more records dead than alive, corporations fund and back every aspect of citizens lives, and most people live in a dull ambivalence to it all. Think South Park but with long action segments and way more explosions. SR3’s sense of humor is sharper than ever, and the dialogue is filled with zingers and one liners you might miss on your first playthrough. The opening mission has the Saints trying to rip off a bank vault, and after everything predictably goes pear shaped, SWAT soldiers are called in, leaving the crew waiting for their chopper to show up. Returning Saints member Shaundi asks “How long till our attack chopper gets here?” Johnny Gat replies: “About two waves of SWAT guys?”

SR3's plot finds the Saints having a hard time dealing with their new found fame. Like the Snoop Dogg’s and Ice Cube’s of yesteryear, the Saints are now the least likely of superstars, lending their likeness and image to a bunch of branded products that have almost nothing to do with their hardcore roots. Irritated with how comfortable everyone is with the comforts of fame and wealth Johnny Gat quips: “The Saints is more than a branded body spray and an ass tasting energy drink!” We considered his comments as we sipped the Saints Row branded energy drink THQ had given us. It didn't taste that bad. 

SR3 is structured similarly to the previous games, with the Saints going toe to toe with rival gangs trying to claim ownership of the city. The game's setting has changed from Stillwater to Steelport though, because the Saints have been given the boot from their home turf by The Syndicate. SR3’s gangs are all part of a shadow group known as The Syndicate, seemingly a variation on the Ultor group from Saints Row 2. While The Syndicate may not sound very wacky, the individual gangs we saw proudly lived up to "The Warriors on LSD" tradition Saints Row has created.  

The first gang you encounter is the Morning Star, led by a snobby European businessman known as The Belgian. Sporting snazzy suits and red designer trench coats, they’re actually the most straight laced gang you encounter, even if they look like Eurotrash Matrix rejects. The Deckers are a high tech gang of hackers, whose iridescent blue lighting is clearly patterned after Tron. The Luchadores are even more ridiculous, with each member wearing a lucha libre mask and a suit. From what we saw in the game, they're also the most vicious. Finally, there’s the STAG (Special Tactical Anti-Gang) group, a military organization brought in to take care of the gangs. Fittingly, they have the craziest weapons; plasma rifles, an enormous hover tank and a huge hover jet with a heat ray. 


  • WikiParazFTW - October 23, 2011 1:16 p.m.

    Im glad that the respect system is beihng used for upgrades than unlocking missions. That annoyed me in the others at points.
  • LeSieg - October 21, 2011 1:30 p.m.

    GTA IV was fun, but I think this can fill the craving that San Andreas inspired in me as a rambunctious 12-year-old with an affinity for mindless destruction. I'm also excited that there are now four games I can play without any of them being a straight-up military shooter (not that there's anything wrong with them, just a bit fatigued). I'll wait until the review though.
  • Bricklair394 - October 21, 2011 10:49 a.m.

    Pre-ordered and I cannot wait. SR2 was fantastic, and I'm expecting this one to be the end-all that beats all. Not sure why there are so many GTA haters out there. Seems like they've forgotten that GTA was once a decent top-down game until a little game called Driver showed Rockstar how to really make an open-world sandbox, and Rockstar improved upon that idea. Volition has done the same, and I hope this makes them stars, because they deserve it.
  • TheZigMan - October 20, 2011 3:32 p.m.

    I can't wait to not play this GTA wannabe and play a good game like skyrim or arkham city instead!
  • UberNoob - October 21, 2011 5:12 p.m.

    It's not necessarily a wanna-be if it's improving on another games mistakes. If it is, then it's a great wanna-be that's fun to play. I was disappointed with GTAIV. It was horribly encoded, it looked washed of color, but it's story was enjoyable for me. What I found great and amazing about GTAIV were the mods. It was a great game to mod in. From skins to graphic mods that changed the whole game, it made me want to get it. I did, though I found out how difficult it is to run on PC. SA was the last great GTA I played. I hope GTAV-if it comes out-will fix the mistakes that were done in GTAIV. I'm not a fan of SR, though I can admit their games are just as fun if not more than GTA. I'm HOPEFUL that GTAV will turn out great, but for now, SR3 is something I KNOW will turn out great based on the previews.
  • TheZigMan - October 21, 2011 6:04 p.m.

    Everyone is b-tching about GTA IV, even though it was easily one of the funnest games I've played in the past 10 years. No it wasn't balls out crazy, but neither was Red Dead Redemption. They inserted some craziness with the Ballad of Gay Tony, but the game itself was one of the best games ever made. Details in the world, the best physics of any sandbox game thus far, and a truly engaging and emotional story. GTA IV was an amazing game, different than San Andreas, but still awesome. Just because it didn't have a bunch of wacky characters (even though it had its fair share), and simple plot lines, that doesn't mean Saints Row has ever even come close to approaching it.
  • UberNoob - October 21, 2011 7:21 p.m.

    I'm not saying GTAIV was overall a bad game. I enjoyed it and I still play it, especially the mechanics of the game, but it needed more work. And people complain about GTAIV (mostly PC gamers) because they cannot play and enjoy it because of how difficult it is to run. It's a resource whore and takes a lot to get it running at it's full potential(a Radeon HD 6970, which is $300 to $400, barely pulls 30FPS in that game; you need a high-end CPU to run it as well). I could care less about wacky characters and simple plot lines. SR is too colorful to me, but GTAIV is too dull for me (except with the ENB mods and such; it looks amazing). I enjoyed GTAIV because of how wreckless and chaotic it was. Unfortunately, it had flaws to it. It isn't perfect as you seem to make it sound, nor is SR.
  • ryan-brownlie - October 21, 2011 6:09 p.m.

    Haters gonna Hate
  • adam-paton - October 22, 2011 noon

    why cant people realise saints row is not a copy of grand theft auto it gives gamers a wider veriaty of games for example you play GTA, complete it, get bored then move onto saints row, complete it, get bored then you move onto the new gta thats just been released. See my point its not a copy its a wider veriaty
  • Zeb364 - October 20, 2011 2:26 p.m.

    I can't freaking wait. I love everything I'm hearing about this game and me and my buddy are dying to break into the co-op after the weeks we sunk into Saints Row 2.
  • IAmARobotWhoTurnsIntoATruckAnd - October 20, 2011 11:06 a.m.

    How in-depth is the character creation? I'm basically asking just to know whether i'll be able to turn my character into Hatsune Miku or not...
  • ichigoame - October 20, 2011 6:07 a.m.

    Anyone else getting a suda51 vibe? I am looking forward to this game the more I hear about it might be a day one purchase for me ^_^
  • inkyspot - October 20, 2011 3:43 a.m.

    My Game of the Year pick. Right now I am enjoying Batman, come release date, Saints Row the Third and Skyrim will have my life. Trople win for me.
  • Vordhosbn - October 20, 2011 2:15 a.m.

    I don't usually take a right or wrong stance on things, but all those people who think this game isn't going to be amazing - You're Wrong. I was sold about 5 trailers ago, any more previews like this and I'll end up pre-ordering 2 copies.
  • - October 20, 2011 1:56 a.m.

    Saints Row 2 is still to this day the best co-op game I ever played with my wife. Volition will make some bank off us, two special editions pre-ordered for the Third. (Talk about missed opportunity, shouldn't they have released this on the third of the month?) But my comment wasn't about Saints being good. It was to say that the first paragraph of this article is one of the greatest paragraphs ever written.
  • kingsmikefan - October 19, 2011 11:56 p.m.

    can't wait.
  • RedHarlow - October 19, 2011 11:51 p.m.

    The reason I like the Saints Row games is because they don't take themselves seriously. As opposed to GTAIV, which though that itself was pretty serious business and turned out to be lacking.
  • DualWieldingIsNotFeasible - October 19, 2011 11:33 p.m.

    Saints Row 1: "Let's make a GTA clone for the 360." Saints Row 2: "People really responded to our silliness and balls-out gameplay. Let's really ramp that up, really get away from the whole 'serious crime game' thing." Saints Row 3: "We're gonna take realistic grittiness into a back room and do things to it that violate NATO treaties." I cannot freaking wait for this game.
  • sdbrooks - October 23, 2011 5:59 p.m.

    LMAO, that comment was win.
  • XanderGC - October 19, 2011 11:10 p.m.

    Want! But I do intend to try to finish SR and SR2 first as I just bought the double pack. Nice article Mike!

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