by Robert Zak
previewed on X360
Absurd And You Love It
Fans of the Saints Row games have come to expect certain things for their money; hedonism, cartoon violence and explosive gameplay are among the things ranking high on that list. For those who were disappointed with GTA IV's turn towards more serious, realistic gameplay; Saints Row offered a return to the tongue-in-cheek violence of the GTA's of old, and quickly earned itself a following among street-wise wannabes. Volition now returns to give us more of the same successful formula, but with even more 'outrageous' and 'over-the-top' mayhem - if you can imagine such a thing.
A New Start And A New City For The Saints
The story in Saints Row: The Third takes place some time after the events of the last game. Your beloved Third Street Saints have evolved from a simple street gang to a major brand, selling their own clothes and merchandise while continuing their street activities on the side. However, things turn sour when the leader of an international criminal group ominously known as The Syndicate demands tribute from the Saints. Naturally, the Saints refuse and subsequently get ousted from their home city of Stillwater. Bad news? Hardly, because now you get to wage in a street war in the new city of Steelport.
Of the scarce details revealed so far, we know that Steelport is a city with three major gangs. The brains of the city are Morning Star, who are unfortunately led by your nemesis and Syndicate leader, Phillipe Loren. Enforcing them are the Luchadores; a Mexican wrestling gang who use their muscle and big weapons to control the streets. Finally there are the geeky Deckers who are a group of hackers responsible for the city's online crime. Meanwhile, the government-commissioned STAG (Special Tactical Anti-Gang) units roam the city attempting to thwart any promiscuous gang activity. Suffice to say it's going to be carnage.
Volition have stated that they want this outing to be more involving than the previous games. They have promised unprecedented character and weapon customisation, as well as a multiple-choice-driven narrative. Wisely borrowing these RPG elements will mean that whoever you side with throughout the game will open up or close off various opportunities in the story. Choices you'll have to make will include whether you want to take buildings over or blow them up, or deciding what to do with a boatful of prostitutes; clearly key decisions to be treated with the utmost seriousness!
Judging by an early in-game screen of a sassy female character battering a Luchadore wrestler with a giant dildo aka. 'Sex Toy Bat', Saints Row: The Third is not shying away from the series' trademark absurdity. If anything, it's taking it further.
That Killer Combo Of Hilarity And Violence
Some early gameplay revelations show a similar mind-set based on the hilarity/violence combo. The left bumper button has been described as an 'awesome button' by Volition and makes most ordinary animations, such as breaking into cars, a hell of a lot more fun. So rather than merely opening doors and kicking people out, try flying in feet-first through the door’s window and kicking them out the other side. Oh, the novelties of absurd violence!
In terms of multiplayer, Volition have decided to exclude competitive multiplayer because the 'majority want co-op' and they want to focus on 'beefing it up.' While co-op was undoubtedly a major draw of the previous game, fans may be disappointed to hear that the co-op in The Third is looking set to support only two players. Still, it's early days yet and there's always a chance that the community will be heard.