Saints Row: The Third massive hands-on preview

As before, there’s a separate star rating for killing gang members versus attacking the police. Anger enough gang members and they’ll become an even bigger threat than the cops themselves. Get a gang angry enough and they’ll send one of their specialists to deal with you. The specialists are super units specific to each gang, equipped with special weapons and equipment. We didn't manage to see the Luchadore's specialist, but we snuck a peek at the other two.

The Morning Star gang sends a sniper to take you out, sometimes on ground and sometimes in a circling helicopter. It may not sound too tough, but they’re great shots, and getting hit by them will take off at least half of your health. The Decker gang specialist is even crazier, an anime-d out school girl with a huge Gundam styled force hammer and rollerblades. Oh and she can teleport too. We tried running away but she grabbed onto the back of one of the gang’s cars and skitched after us. Fortunately after taking her out you’ll be able to temporarily use the force hammer.


While some people still roll their eyes at GTA IV's friendship side missions, it's clear that a lot of effort has gone into SR3's side-mission activities. The Activities are generally even more ridiculous than the main missions, and allow for Volition to go even further off the rails. Classics like the ragdoll-tastic Insurance Fraud return, while others like Trailblazing have been completely revamped. The new Trailblazing replaces the flaming quad from Saints Row 2 for a super stylized Tron inspired Motorcycle halfpipe race. Clear checkpoints and dodge obstacles to make it to the finish before time runs out. 

While the number of activities has expanded, the “Saintsbook” section of your phone allows access to more straightforward missions like Assassinations, Vehicle Thefts and the like. There’s also Challenges, mini Achievements that reward you for performing special tasks like kicking 30 people in the junk. Completing the challenges nets you a small respect and cash bonus. As with any good sandbox game, there’s a bunch of collectibles scattered around the map for you to snag. But since it’s Saints Row you’ll be collecting sex dolls.

We don’t want to spoil any of the plot but it’s hard not to mention some of the characters you’ll run across during the course of the game. A quick, spoiler free list: 

Zimos: A pimp with a tracheotomy who sports a gold cane with a microphone that serves as an electrolarynx. It Auto-Tunes all his dialogue. 

Oleg: An enormous muscle man who you can call-in for back up. He can knock cars over with melee attacks. Is completely naked during the mission you first meet him. 

Angel: A physical trainer who hates the Syndicate and is tough as nails. Takes it upon himself to train you by forcing you to drive a car with a tiger in the passenger seat. Seriously. 

While we’re on the topic of the tiger escort mission, we’ll mention the co-op. SR3 features drop-in drop-out multiplayer for maximum convenience, letting players help one another with story mode missions like the tiger escort. This particular mission had us in the backseat, attempting to calm the tiger down via some QTEs while the other player tried to keep the swerving car from slowing down or slamming into a wall. While most of the missions are more straightforward run and gun affairs with two players, it's neat seeing special missions that make the co-op extra fun.

Of course there's the new Whored mode, and it's exactly what you'd think, a co-op experience that pits you and some friends against huge waves of enemies. And we do mean waves, with nearly 30 characters on screen at any given time Whored mode quickly turns into a chaotic melee. Special settings allow for you to fight huge enemies as a tiny version of your character or in one of the modes we brandished the Penetrator (an enormous purple dildo) against a bunch of guys in gimp suits.

As in the previous Saints games, completing missions and blowing stuff up good earns you respect (see: experience), which in turn lets you upgrade your character in a number of ways. Higher levels of respect allow access to bigger and better weapons, clothes and cribs, though there’s permanent character upgrades you can buy now. Accessed through your phone, a huge number of character upgrades can be purchased for cash once you’ve reached the required respect level. A quick glance at the upgrade menu revealed: Extra health, the ability to dual wield pistols, weapon specific increased weapon damage, the ability to recruit extra gang members, and our personal favorite, the ability to not ragdoll after being hit by an explosion.

It can’t be overstated how insane Saints Row: The Third is. Everything is so far off the deep end, that by the time the leather masked gimps pulling rickshaws show up you’ll probably just say “oh, okay.” We can honestly say that after our eight hour session we were eager to see more and keep playing. The immediate access it gives you to powerful weapons and vehicles eschews the "work your way up from nothing" gameplay theory and embraces the sandbox entirely, as a place you can have fun in. Sure, it may be a little unbalanced, and it's not the prettiest game you'll ever see, but it puts fun first, and that's a huge draw for anyone looking for a good time. 

Oct 19th, 2011


  • 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!

Showing 1-20 of 23 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000