Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Game Review: Saints Row: The Third (multi-format)

Saints Row: The Third has possibly one of the most insane openings to a video game you’ll ever play, but as well as that may be Volition’s third outing for their comic book gangster yarn does have one major issue when put alongside its predecessor: A serious lack of content.

There’s no question that this third outing is both technically and visually superior to previous Saints Row games, but it'll only take about your first hour or so to realise that much of what made Saints Row 2 so engrossing has been heavily stripped back.  There are only four clothes shops, (that all look identical),  no shopping mall, no record stores, no takeaways, no opportunities to consume questionable substances, no proper day & night cycle and so forth.  It may seem like needless nitpicking , but it is without question that with all these little extra bells and whistles having been either stripped back or removed altogether the world of Saints Row now feels much more less ‘alive’ than in previous iterations.

Of the main gripes present having activities shoehorned into the main storyline in a bid to flesh things out only serves to highlight the lazy and disjointed story beneath the madness and mayhem.  Combined with one ‘super’ rival gang as opposed to having three separate, and inherently more interesting rivals, you’ll find very little to care about said story and the characters therein.  Saints 2 was no Shakespeare, but it did have buckets of character and a sense of direction.  SR: The Third's tale shares neither of these qualities and by comparison is not only poorly told, it’s as dull as dish water.

Character creation is still the best example of any video game sporting the feature and so being able to practically transfer my character from Saints 2 was an absolute boon. Okay, she may not have quite the wardrobe from the last game but base-jumping as Catwoman into gang-banger territory, killing everyone in sight in a hail of bullets and a few swift kicks to the family jewels is immensely gratifying.

So yes, Saints Row: The Third can be highly entertaining, often amusing, and on that rare occasion an even brilliant video game; sadly it’s all too far and in between. It's also frustrating knowing that along with so much of the content that made Saints 2 so entertaining being omitted Volition has, (in all probability and at the behest of their respective publisher no doubt), held back on much of the games content in a cynical attempt to squeeze even more cash out of the fanbase via a skip load of DLC.

There's fun to be had, but ultimately a disappointing package.


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