There’s something to be said for insanity. For every person who leads a safe, sane life that makes perfect sense, there’s another who’s shotgunning Jagermeister and setting themselves on fire for fun, somehow having the time of their life in the process. Saints Row 3 will definitely appeal more to the latter than the former, because this game is absolutely insane.
An example of the craziness in this game: In the second mission, you wind up skydiving through the fallen cargo of a plane (far too much to actually fit in the plane, as your character notices), shooting thugs who have jumped out of the plane to chase you, and eventually catching up to one of your “homies” who doesn’t have a parachute. All in a day’s work when you’re one of the 3rd Street Saints, a pseudo-gang that has become more of a celebrity icon.
The overall story is interesting, if only because it’s so consistently fearless and hilarious. Very few things in the entire game actually get taken seriously, and the plot plays out like a bunch of random scenarios written up by a paranoid schizophrenic while off their medication. All of the seemingly random events that occur in the game, sometimes occurring for no obvious reason beyond adding some craziness to the mix, get tied together in one somewhat-coherent overall plot that’s so far over the line of realism that it doesn’t even bother trying. For all its rampant strangeness, Saints Row 3 is an undeniably charming foray into a kind of fun most games can’t even touch, and it stands in stark contrast to the 99% of other games that take themselves far too seriously.
Saints Row 3 is a lot like Grand Theft Auto in terms of gameplay. The inspiration is unmistakable—you steal cars like in GTA, run around a sandbox completing missions like in GTA, and engage in combat that’s incredibly similar to GTA. If you’ve ever played a Grand Theft Auto game, chances are you already know exactly what you’re getting into gameplay-wise. Despite that familiarity, it’s a very polished kind of sandbox game that not only runs well and looks great, but is far less wonky to control than many GTA games tend to be.
What sets SR3 apart from those games most, however, is how legitimately interesting the missions are; rather than a bunch of boring filler missions being included as padding like in most sandbox games, the vast majority are of the wonderfully insane variety, grabbing your attention from the very start and refusing to let go until you’ve finished (that goes for both individual missions and the game as a whole). From driving a car with an angry tiger in it to shooting a bunch of virtual-reality people as a toilet with a laser cannon, nothing is beyond this game’s reach.
Everything about this game is refreshing. Even the graphics manage to be surprisingly good, especially for a sandbox game; some of the models are less than impressive up close, but driving down a highway and shooting at passing cars rarely looks as good as it does in Saint’s Row 3. Some parts look good from a technical perspective (a lot of the game in motion), while others look good from an art style perspective (colors and lighting), and it rarely lets up or feels underwhelming graphically.
The music tends to be repetitive, but the tracks that repeat are interesting and don’t last for long enough for that to be anything but a minor qualm. Some of the tracks that play at the end of missions may catch your attention, but after playing for awhile you’ll likely just tune the entire soundtrack out. There are simply too many bizarre things happening all around to focus on the music.
It’s worth noting that Saints Row 3 is a radical departure from the previous two games in terms of seriousness. Playing through those previous two games isn’t necessary, and liking them could make it difficult to appreciate this game for what it is since changes in beloved series rarely come easily.
Here’s what you should do: