Saints Row: The Third

Any game can manage to have a brilliant idea or two inside of a cutscene or story premise: it’s harder to feel brilliant all the time by its very nature, as a result of cool features and freedoms built into the design. Saints Row 2 was this second type of game, a ludically brilliant one, and was amazing. Saints Row 3 lost a lot of secondary features, but has a substantially more ridiculous narrative—in other words, it went from Type B to Type A. This was a poor trade. It also doesn’t fluctuate as much in tone or mood, which makes it a little less memorable.

My list of desired changes includes better diversions, crazier clothing customization, custom music, a little more harmony in co-op (like both players hearing the same thing on the radio), more ridiculous character body sizes, the ability to disable certain upgrades after buying them, and replayable missions.

Killing Gat was a bad idea, especially since the execution of it was blundered. The game was generally pretty funny, but the DLC was not, and the “Zombie Gat” thing kind of felt like a slap on the face.

Worst of all was completely changing Shaundi instead of just leaving her behind in the old city and introducing a new female character. This notion of interchangeability, almost only ever seen when men write female characters, is annoying. It implies a belief that the minds and personalities of the women never really mattered to begin with. You can say that she “grew up”, but let’s be honest: the old Shaundi isn’t in there.

On the other hand, you can dropkick into a car to steal it, and that is great. Flying jetbikes close to the ground was also good fun for a little while. But I didn’t get any significant enjoyment out of playing around in the sandbox, even in multiplayer. I played it a lot, but this says more about my psychological need to complete things than it says about the actual quality of the game. It was a disappointment.

The reviewer believes this game stands above total mediocrity. It has something going for it, but ultimately few real merits. Most of the time, it isn’t fun, and doesn’t otherwise provide any sort of emotional payoff. Even though it does some cool things, you should play something else instead.

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