For every seriously-toned, crime drama that begs to be as dramatic as an original episode of the Sopranos, we have the zany and over-the-top ridiculousness of the one-and-only Saints Row the Third. After the phenomenal success of the first two games, it was only a matter of time before THQ tried to propel the franchise into AAA status.
The developers were clearly done being compared to the popular open-world crime simulators that came before. It was time to branch out and carve a new kind of fun for fans of the series and this game certainly delivers on that front. As long as you turn your brain off and leave it at the door before you enter, of course.
It’s all about taking your imagination and being the Gangsta that every child dreams of being. Kicking butt and taking names as you spread your reputation and influence across the city, and we’ve got a new city to take over this time. We’ve left the streets of Stilwater for a whole new adventure.
But that was almost ten years ago. We’ve already ushered in a new era of consoles and a remaster of this game is out there for all to enjoy, so does the original still hold p today? Can you still get the great Saints Row experience if you only have the original? That’s what we’ll find out today as we ask if Saints Row the third is still good in 2021.
SAINTS ROW THE THIRD
So, What’s It All About?
Saints Row the Third follows on five years after the events of the last game. The Saints have risen to the top and become a complete media and consumer empire, putting their names and faces across apparel, energy drinks, and even starring in a movie or two. It seems like nothing can slow them down until they catch the attention of a group they didn’t plan to cross.
As the Saints have expanded and grown, they were being watched by The Syndicate. Three of the most fearsome gangs teamed up together to form one true organization ready to stamp the Saints out for good. And that is where we reunite with our heroes.
While going through the motions of a regular old bank robbery, the Saints are stunned to find the bank tellers less compliant than they were in the past. The syndicate has taken over and the Saints are locked up and thrown in jail before they can say, “Didn’t you get your bribe this month?”
The crew is taken to meet the big baddie behind the Syndicate’s rise and, after an action-packed escape, we land in the brand new city of Steelport. A city where the Syndicate rules with an iron fist and the Saints are nothing but fancy Billboard. It’s time to take the city back…again.
Respect & Earning Money
Just like in the last 2 games, performing various activities and stunts will earn you respect but, unlike last time, respect isn’t required to do missions and progress in the story. Instead, it functions like XP in popular MMO’s and levels up your character so that you can purchase various upgrades to assist you in the game.
You also earn an hourly income as well but this time the money can be transferred directly to your account via the cellphone instead of traveling all the way to a safehouse. The amount you earn can be increased by completing activities in that neighborhood and purchasing the various properties and businesses.
This time around Activities only have 3 different difficulty levels and each difficulty occurs twice and is scattered throughout the city. It’s a lot different from the format of the previous two entries but is a great way to make sure you only do the activities you enjoy. The harder difficulties earn you more money and respect so there is more incentive.
- Escort: Drive to pre-determined destinations while avoiding paparazzi.
- Snatch: Recruit hos from rival pimps and return them.
- Heli Assault: Protect your homies while piloting an Attack Helicopter.
- Trafficking: Protect a dealer while they deliver their goods. Whether it’s an actual drug dealer or just Pirce tryna move some Saints merchandise.
- Trail Blazing: Drive a Toad (quad bike) while on fire, destroying property before time runs out.
- Mayhem: Use weapons and vehicles to destroy property and objects.
- Insurance Fraud: Earn money based on the amount of damage you take.
- Guardian Angel: Protect homies using a Rocket Launcher and a Sniper Rifle.
- Professor Genki’s Super Ethical Reality Climax: Like a zany Japanese game show, shoot mascots and avoid traps to earn money before finishing the course.
- Tank Mayhem: Similar to the original Mayhem…but with a tank.
- Cyber Blazing: Similar to trailblazing but set in a Tron-Esque cyber landscape where the aim is to destroy tanks and avoid literal firewalls.
- Tiger Escort: Similar to the original escort but with a tiger that will occasionally attack the player instead of an actual escort and her clients.
So, What’s Good About It?
Weapons & Gunplay
Right off the bat, the first thing you’ll notice if you’ve played the first two games is the massive improvement in gunplay. Saints Row finally started following the common button layouts popularised by first-person shooters and put LT to ADS and RT to shoot and hip-fire finally became a viable option for assault rifles.
Plus, the overall selection of weapons has been approved as well. Gone are the regular interpretation of the AK-47 or Glock 9. Nearly every new weapon, from pistols to rocket launchers, has had its designs improved and the looks get improved even further as you upgrade each weapon.
The overall story has been given a complete overhaul as well. While the weight of Playa’s actions carries over with subtle nods to the previous games, there’s still a compelling narrative to be found for anyone that’s entering the Saints Row universe for the first time.
It’s also great that the missions were structured a little different although I would’ve preferred the same great level of choice we got in the first two. Still, with better villains and more wacky action than you can imagine, it’s one of the best upgrades the game has over the original two.
The variety of enemies you encounter in this one is a large step up as well. Besides the regular gangsta enemies you’ll encounter, there will also be specialists that are called in with much more powerful methods of attack and with a large health pool to make sure they are a real threat when you see them.
So, What’s Bad About it?
Despite all the new features that they’ve added, it’s hard not to miss the old flavor that’s clearly taking a back seat to the new outrageous style that the series has adopted. If you’re expecting more of the same as the first you’re going to be sorely disappointed and, to tell you the truth, I was for a while.
If you’re lucky enough to get this game in your collection, then you’re certainly in for a good time. It may still be missing a lot of the DLC but the main game is still hours of fun on its own and for the completionists out there, you’ll find a game tailor-made to make that experience as enjoyable as possible. It’s definitely still good in 2021.
Have you played the original Saints Row the Third? What do you think of the game in today’s climate? Let me know in the comments section below.