Saints Row: The Third
I came into this game after having finished Saints Row 4 and 2 first, in that order. The difference between 2 and 4 is drastic, so I was interested to see where The Third would be in relation to those two. As one might assume it’s somewhere in the middle. The second game had missions with only light scripting and a big dose of unpredictable chaos at the hand of the AI and world simulation, while the fourth game was more directed and scripted with a big emphasis on comedy. It can be hard to describe just how different the two feel when actually playing. The closest thing I’ve experienced in other games to the feeling of out of control madness in Saints Row 2 is in the Stalker games. The fourth might at first glance appear even crazier than the second game, but it’s a chaos that feels highly predictable and in control of the creators. The Third tries to do both things, and doesn’t do it as well as either 2 or 4 did. It is without a doubt the worst Saints Row game I’ve played yet.
For the most part Saints Row The Third is perfectly fine. Visually it’s a huge improvement over the second game, and in general the level of polish is on another level. The problem though is that many of the changes make the game more conventional, and as a result a bit boring. For example the weapons and enemy types have changed quite a bit from the second game. Almost all the weapons in Saints Row 2 felt powerful, and in The Third the majority of the guns suck. They aren’t loud enough, and they don’t do enough damage which creates a frustrating bullet sponge feel, even when fighting the weakest enemies. This made many weapons unusable, like all the shotguns and all the submachine guns.
The biggest issue though I had with The Third is the story. In both 2 and 4 it was excellent! Great antagonists and a good sense of progression and character development with proper last acts that resolved everything going on in the games. Real solid work, unlike The Third where it’s more of a mess that doesn’t go anywhere. As far as games go The Third is still alright, and it has several high points, especially in the second half of the game. But it wasn’t nearly as good as the other two, and it felt unfinished. In about a third of the missions there were abrupt cuts where it seemed like there should have been a cutscene, but there was nothing. It also ended a couple hours before I expected it to. Several things are left unresolved, which added to the feeling that they were forced to cut things from the game. Everything that’s in the game is very well polished, but there are gaps, like the ending.
Because the game mechanics are more polished than the second game this feels like an easier game to recommend on one level. But on the other hand I just didn’t enjoy it as much because of that. The second game was on the surface a shoddier game, but while I was playing it there’s no question I was enjoying it more. The fourth game blows The Third out of the water in terms of story, humor, character and just about everything. Even the use of music in the fourth game is a notch above The Third. This is still a good game, but play the other two first.