Saints Row: The Third is an over-the-top helping of fun and crazy goings-on in the city of Steelport. However, for us PC gamers, we don’t have fond memories of Volition’s crazy series. With the first iteration not appearing on our beloved platform, we had to wait until the release of Saints Row 2 to see a PC release grace us with its presence.
Things weren’t that simple: the port was terrible. The frame-rate was sluggish on even the strongest of computers contemporary to its release, with terrible textures pop-up and a whole host of problems rendering it nearly unplayable until patched enough to make sure only the frame-rate issue remained. It was never perfect though. Is this sequel any better?
New Game State of Mind
Yes it is. The PC port this time is actually quite good. Graphically, the game has a smooth framerate and looks fairly impressive. This is partly down to the DirectX 10 and 11 support included within the game, allowing you to experience the benefits of PC hardware, but not as much as possible. The game is full of low resolution textures even on the highest settings, meaning that the advanced lighting effects of DirectX 10 and 11 are being transmitted onto pavement that looks like sandpaper rather than concrete. It’s disappointing, but at least the game runs well this time round. The advanced depth of field, reflections and ambient occlusion quality all serve to make the PC version the best looking of the bunch, but it is still nothing particularly spectacular.
For those of you unfamiliar with the series, think Grand Theft Auto on LSD. Crazy things are always occurring when the Third Street Saints are around, and that includes, in Saints Row: The Third, stealing bank vaults and endorsing crappy energy drinks. If you have the inclination to free-roam rather than complete the side-missions and story missions that is completely up to you, but you would miss the story of how the Third Street Saints are taking over the city of Steelport after they took control of the Ultor Corporation and the city of Steelwater in the last game. With this amount of control in the previous game, they thought they were invincible. That is until they are arrested by the Police for stealing a bank vault as a mysterious benefactor has bribed the Police with more money than the Saints paid. After being taken onto a plane above Steelport, they realise that the bank they stole from was no ordinary bank, and the owner is a very powerful man. That doesn’t stop them from shooting their way off his plane and leaving Johnny Gat, the resident nutcase, to try and fly the plane back to Stillwater. While this happens, you and Shaundi are stuck in Steelport, so you decide to get stuck in and try and seize control of the city from the gangs and the Syndicate.
For those of you who don’t have internet on your gaming PC, or simply dislike being forced to use a single client, there is bad news - Saints Row: The Third is a Steamworks title, requiring you to use the Steam client. After recent security lapses over at Valve’s pride and joy, you may be reluctant to purchase the game, but you should remember that Steam allows automatic patching, easier content download and a host of other features. These benefits should help to outweigh the incredibly minimal risk of personal information theft by the hackers of the Steam systems.
There are a host of online options and internet functionality is widespread in Saints Row: The Third, with everything from co-operative play to downloading community-made skins for your characters. One notably exclusive mode is Video Record mode, allowing you to record the wacky goings on and post them to the community website. You can switch off the HUD too, allowing you to show it in cinematic glory rather than simply raw game footage. Also exclusive to the PC version is the customized bobbleheads of characters from Team Fortress 2 promised post-release. Whilst these are pure niche items made to appeal to the machinima fans and Valve fans respectively, at least the options are there.
Saints Row: The Third is a ludicrous and enjoyable experience, and the best experience is in the PC version. Although the graphical improvements are noticeable, they might not enough to compete with other PC titles such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. This wasn’t the intention of THQ, however, with the focus being purely on gameplay. The game plays well, looks fine and is an enjoyable experience that I can guarantee you have never experienced before, nor will you experience again for a while yet.
Removing the problems that Saints Row 2 had, this is the first Saints Row title to be fully functional and playable on the PC, so you really have no excuse not to buy and play this immediately. What are you waiting for?
The craziest game you will ever play. Incredibly fun, with plenty of stuff to do, weapons to use and a long lifespan.
Later missions become dull in comparison to the earlier missions. Graphical improvements on PC aren’t as big as some might have expected.