At E3 this year it was Saints Row: The Third that brought the most insane of artillery to the table. From its crazy antics to its style of humor the latest in the Saints Row series had but only one mission in mind: bring gamers the most fun experience anyone can fathom in an open-world title.

Saints Row: The Third continues where the second one left off. The Saints are now in control of Stilwater, and have become celebrities around the world. Unbeknownst to them, however, a rival group known as the Syndicate takes over the city, forcing the Saints off their throne of luxury. From there it's up to you to build back your reputation and reclaim your kingdom. But there are many obstacles that will keep you from reaching your goal.

The Syndicate is split into three groups: Morningstar (classic mafia-looking), Luchadores (wrestling-inspired) and Deckers (Tron-like hooligans), with the three of them owning a fair share of Stilwater. In order to win back your beloved city you must slowly regain control of it by buying property or -- the more fun way -- taking it back using the most anarchic ways possible. It doesn't come easy, especially when the police and the Special Tactics Anti-Gang Unit (or S.T.A.G., for short) are on your trail every time you fire a weapon or run someone over with your vehicle. Before you do any of that, however, your character must look the part.

The folks at Volition, Inc. went all out on the Create-A-Character aspect alone, with nearly millions of ways you can have your anti-hero look. From the wideness of your eyes to the size of your, erm, package the heavy detail placed into how you can make your Saint look like you is finely-tuned; and with a crazy amount of wardrobe you can choose from you can dress him or her in just about any way possible. You can even have them run the streets completely naked if you wanted them to! (It's pixelated, though, pervs.)

After you've created your character the real madness begins. To win back respect you must tackle on multiple missions that will have you in a shootout 20,000 feet in the air, saving lovely prostitutes from underground clubs and ships, committing a chariot getaway chase with gimps instead of horses, and (CAREFULLY!) chauffeuring a tiger in your front passenger seat; and that's a mere fraction of what you can do. There are also side missions that include Insurance Fraud (getting run over by cars for cash), Professor Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax (a Japanese-styled game show), Tank Mayhem (blow as much shit up as possible with your tank in a given time limit), and Assassinations. It is amazing how much gameplay has been placed into Saints Row: The Third, and it can be more fun when you are in co-op mode with a friend. If you need to take a break from the main game you can easily jump into Whored More, in which you (and a friend, if you'd like) can tackle on endless waves of enemies with different weapons at your disposal.

The weapons you are given in this game range from the average to the WTF, with a heavy emphasis on the F. You could easily just use a pistol to take down your enemies, but if you want to be a kinky badass then you can arm yourself with the Penetrator (the infamous dildo bat) and smash their skulls in with sexual hilarity. There are also grenades, octopus guns, and air strikes that can be called in to take care of those pesky rival gangs and S.T.A.G. soldiers. Vehicles also come in different shapes and sizes, ranging from the simple scooters and classic cars to the tanks and Professor Genki's Manapult, the latter of which can suck up any pedestrian and shoot them out of the air to meet their maker.

While on the road you can switch on the radio, listen to news clips and even rock out to some of the best songs to be heard on any game. From the hip hop styles of Kanye West and the rocking riffs of Wavves to the electronica beats of deadmau5 and the classical sounds of Bach there is a radio station for every person out there. (My personal favorite is the Adult Swim-based one, where the DJ is Jon Glasser's character in Delocated.) Add on a great cast that includes Daniel Dae Kim, Hulk Hogan, and Sasha Grey just to name a few, and you've got yourself one hell of a soundtrack that is filled with hilarious jabs, one-liners and all-around dialogue that will make you do a double-take.

While there is much to love in Saints Row: The Third there are a couple flaws that keep it from reaching open-world perfection. The first is the flying missions, which can sometimes be a major pain to control. Because of some of the camera angles in those levels it made it almost impossible to properly aim your gun or missile-launcher at the gang members. Trust me: you will find yourself spending an hour on these types of missions alone, but not for enjoyable reasons.

The other misstep in Saints Row: The Third is its graphics. While good, they are not on-par with the majority of the games that can be found on current-gen consoles. Granted it does fit with the cartoonish elements of the game, but they could've tinkered just a bit on the characters before the game's release. I also found some rendering issues within the game, especially while flying high in one of the planes you get later on in the game. And while it sounds like the oldest complaint in the world my character got stuck in a wall a few times, so I'm crossing my fingers that an update will be released sooner or later to fix that aspect. The vehicles look gorgeous, though.

Completing the main storyline will probably take you between 12-14 hours, with the side missions tacking on another 10. One of the downsides is once a main story mission is completed you cannot go back and replay it unless you start a whole new game. Still with many classic moments to be found in this game Saints Row: The Third is the type of open-world game that merits much replay value. (If you want to collect every trophy/achievement you'll need to play through it a couple times.)

PROS:

  • Hilarious story, inventive missions
  • Imaginative weapons
  • Great voice-acting, soundtrack one of year's best

CONS:

  • Graphics aren't up to current standards
  • Flying missions are a bitch to handle
  • Can't replay main missions once completed

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Saints Row: The Third is a barrel of laughs and fun for anyone who thought the worlds of Grand Theft Auto were too serious for them. With a massive foray of weapons and vehicles at your disposal, not to mention tons of missions to complete, the latest adventure in Stilwater will be worth multiple visits. Lovers of hilarious games are encouraged to strap this title on and enjoy Saints Row: The Third in all of its intensity.

FINAL GRADE: 9.2 (out of ten)

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