E3 2011 Coverage : Saints Row The Third

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The first Saints Row was little more than a tribute to Grand Theft Auto, a game so far up Rockstar’s arse that it came across as a bit of a poor clone. Saint’s Row 2, on the other hand, was a case of developer Volition finding its voice – one of absurdity – and producing a game that had its own character and stood on its own ridiculous merits. I’d even go so far as to say I preferred Saints Row 2’s incredible silliness to GTA IV’s intended hyper-realism.

For Saints Row : The Third, Volition has taken the crazy bull by the horns – run with it and pretty much just said “F*ck it, let’s make the most mental game we can make,” and you know what? It looks utterly fantastic.

For The Third, The Saints from Stilwater arrive in Steelport, quickly becoming local celebrities based on their reputation for anarchy; It’s a new direction for open world sandbox games, starting you out right at the top – instead of the usual, and now worn formula of working up through the ranks. So great is is your popularity that pedestrians will cheer for you as you reverse your truck over their faces, and they’ll eagerly ask for autographs as you hold up a bank. It may be puerile, offensive and markedly immature, but like Saints Row 2, it looks to feature some clever writing and story-telling. In one of the story sequences we were demoed, the Saints, including one of its leaders Johnny Gat , are preparing for a bank robbery by ridiculously donning oversized rubber masks – of Johnny Gat.

This sort of farcical flapdoodle continues in the open-world sections, with hilarious and ridiculous aplomb. Where else can you smack people about the face with a giant rubber dildo, or pulverise people with the “Apocafists,” a set of oversized hands that contain the power of apocalypse? No other game lets you fly a fighter jet that shoots beams of concentrated microwaves and homing rockets. No other game buts Saints Row would let your drive around in a a manapult; a vehicle with a mounted cannon that can suck up pedestrians and fire them all over the city, leaving bloody splotches in its wake.

The best news, for people who played and loves SR2 is that the new engine that powers the game brings with it a much needed overhaul of the driving physics; and it looks like you can drive fast as heck – and in a straight line – now. Of all the games I previewed at E3, Saints Row The Third was one of the most refreshing. In a world of modern combat-centric FPS after FPS, it’s lovely to have a game that allows you to live out your most maniacal fantasies, as absurd as they may be.

Saints Row : The Third will be available for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on November 15 this year – and I personally can’t wait.

Last Updated: June 13, 2011

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I’m old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time – they were capable of being masterpieces. I’m here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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