Sunday, January 08, 2012

Tech: Saints Row:The Third review

Is it possible for a game to be so offensive that it's actually not so offensive any more? Like a comedian who purposely delivers raunchier and raunchier jokes but ceases to shock, "Saints Row: The Third" is so consciously over-the-top that you know the developers don't really mean it:


It's the third in the "Saints Row" video game series, and the titular gang, the Third Street Saints, are now a semi-legit pop culture phenomenon; there's "Saints"-themed clothing, garish "Planet Saints" clothing stores, and even a "Saints Flow" energy drink line. You play as the leader of the Saints, and clash against a shadowy crime organization called "The Syndicate" in the new city of Steelport.

It's the same "Grand Theft Auto" open world gameplay we all know and love, but polished to a mirror sheen. Basically everything you do in "Saints Row 3" involves ridiculous amounts of violence or sex, and commonly both: you'll beat zombies to death with a giant purple dildo, shoot people in the nuts in a hyper-violent "Smash TV"-style game show, and run over abusive pimps in an armored-personnel carrier.

It's difficult playing things for laughs when real life is getting weirder and crazier by the day, but the game does a good job of serving up the unexpected. When it isn't busy trying to throw stuff on the wall, you'll actually be playing a fairly competent third-person shooter, with plenty of weapons, vehicles, and enemies. The low difficulty and realism level means it's not as intense as some of GTA4's shootouts and car chases, but it's still plenty of fun.

Best of all, the entire game is playable co-op. Add in the incredible character customization engine, a great soundtrack (Kanye West's "Power" plays at a pivotal moment in the game), and mostly bug-free technical execution, and you have one of the best games of 2011.

Rating: 94/100

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