Friday, November 18, 2011

Saints Row: The Third

  Scroll down just a bit and you'll see its no big secret I loved Saints Row 2. It was wild, fast, and able to be completely yours. Unlike other specific sandbox games  where you can create your own protagonist, Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas (both of which I am very familiar with and are personal favorites) the character creation options didn't stop at just your face. In the Saints Row games, you can pick your own voice. Although choices are limited, you can understand how a Fallout veteran like myself might be thrilled with the prospect of not having to read every line your character says, instead, he actually speaks it.  In Saints Row The Third, I went in with extremely high hopes, and massive expectations. I don't think I'd ever been so excited for the release of a new game.  I will buy almost any game that boasts extensive customization capabilities, and I think its a tad unfortunate I discovered Saints Row 2 first.

  Lets start with the cons. Saints Row The Third, on its own footing, hardly gets anything wrong at all. A few glitches here and there, some mildly annoying AI, but otherwise its a strikingly solid game.
But for people who've experienced the second game... we felt the loss instantly.
  For those who pay attention to detail, several facial detail sliders had been summarily condensed into one new 'Style' slider for each tab: Eyes, Crown, Forehead, Ears, Nose, Lips, et cetera...
While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, in fact its a welcome change, but it does sacrific some finer tweaking options that were a must for people creating well known faces. In my case... I made Vin Diesel... but now I can't get the slant of the eyes just right. See? For most this will be no problem at all, but for Saints Row 2 players, we felt the pain. You know how many hours can be spent running around as your favorite celebrity? Beating random people senseless and running over old people?
So anyhow, ontop of those tiny almost irrelevant details being axed from SRTT, the clothing situation has also been changed.
  Gone are the layering options. You can no longer equip seperately an undershirt, overshirt, and coat.
Tops and bottoms are solid pieces now. If you buy an open zip-up hoodie with an ugly shirt underneath it, you're welcome to change the color for the most part, but nevertheless... you're stuck with said shirt. In #2, that wasn't an issue. At all.  Along with reduced clothing options, gone is the need for so many clothing stores. Sloppy Seconds, Branded, Impressions... all gone. Here to stay is Leather & Lace, Nobody Loves MeLets Pretend, and the new Planet Saints.  Yes people, these are just clothing stores.
  But again, for those who aren't so fickle about their appearance... no harm done eh?
Also missing is the size, varried terrain, and scope of Stillwater. The city from #2. Now you're in Steelport. A mostly drab town. Not really all that unpredictable as far as pedestrians go. In #2, the streets and sidewalks were thriving with personality and such, this feels mostly gone from SRTT.

  Now moving on to the pros.
Stillwater was way more "alive" so to speak. Thats not to say that Steelport isn't without merit. This new city is much more atmospheric and colorful than the rather ordinary looking Stillwater. Nothing in Steelport looks generic. Its a banal cesspool of neon lights, hookers, pimps, and flashy looking S&M clubs. I'm sure I'm overlooking some notable locale worth mentioning, but make no mistake, there are LOTS of memorable locations.
  The hand-to-hand combat mechanics have been revamped as well. Gone are the 'fighting styles' of #2, and while many may mourn their absense from this game, I am MORE than happy with the new lil sweet spot button they've put in there. For the PS3 users, clicking R3 at someone while sprinting will unleash a short but brutally sweet melee move on them. Whether you're flipping over them, flipping them over you, or just using your shotgun like a bat and slamming it between their legs right into their nads', you can be sure it never gets old.  Dont worry, you can also use your standard attack buttons to delve out some good ol' "one-two" action when you don't have any weapons equipped.
  And now, with a reduced weapon roster, we're able to upgrade our weapons now! Extended clips, snap-on grenage launchers, lazer sights, scopes, special ammo types, silencers, and more. Its a very very welcome feature. Your two lil .44's may not do much against combat armor when you first set out to wreak some meyhem in the city of Steelport, but upgrade them to level four and you're a force to be reckoned with.
  Also as well as having some cool new cars to trick out in your personal garage or at your local Rim Jobs, driving mechanics have been overhauled. In #2, driving was unexciting and kinda clunky. In SRTT, driving is a blast. You feel like you're going much faster, and nitrous isn't a completely useless thing anymore, and its also super fun to just drift around corners and break out into doughnuts. Super fun.
  Ontop of all this, the missions themselves are as exciting as any number of cinematically inclined cutscenes. You may consider this spoiler-ish, but trust me... having a mid-air fire fight after jumping out of an airplane is just the tip of a very large iceberg.

  There are so many situations here where you feel like you're an action hero in a summer blockbuster as bullets fly, cars explode, and you're making sure you look as damn stylish (or absurd) as possible in the middle of it all. Certain missions feel like you're pulling off a Mission Impossible stunt, rappelling down the side of a building, or jumping out of a helicopter to crash an enemy pool party on top of their huge skyscraper. Certain other missions fell like you're in the middle of an urban war movie, or a full on John Woo crime movie with the slow motion shootouts and all the jumping over sofas while shooting two large calibur bullets. Its all very intense and dynamic and feels very natural in SRTT, the gameplay itself, during these epic battles, feels very fluid and vastly improved over #2. Everything does. From running, to jumping, to beating someone's face in feels and looks much more natural and fun.

  Also Saints Row The Third is not without a certain emotional weight, even though it doesn't hang karmic choice on you like inFamous, there are choices you make that will affect the game, and other stuff happens thats completely out of your hands, and its all kind of emotional because you've stayed with these characters for a long time, You get the in-jokes, you know their quirks, you can feel all of it pretty closely. You're definately connected to it all. Without this weight and sense of family I think that SRTT would be a completely hollow experience, and given the fact I'm saying this about a game in which you can beat someone over the head with a giant purple dildo-bat whilst dressed up as a big furry animal mascot... its pretty impressive.

  If you give it a chance, and overlook whats not here from #2,  you'll find a wacky, crazy, funny, intense, action-packed, and rewarding gaming experience thats FULL of clever surprises and twists, and definately worth investing your time in.  Although if wacked out raunchy humor, or over the top violence isn't your bag... stay far far away.
However if you can appreciate this stuff, and if you chuckle at all those nut shots in "America's Funniest Home Videos" than this is definately for you.  I love this game, and I deeply enjoyed every second of playing it.  It gets my full recommendation.

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