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15,669 Reviews PC Advisor Recommended

Saints Row: The Third review

£27 (PC), £30 (console)

Manufacturer: THQ

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

A consistently improving open-world franchise embraces its inner-cheesiness.

 

The evolution of the character you play as -- "The Protagonist," as he or she is referred to -- doesn't end there. Saints Row: The Third is practically a role-playing game with all the ways you can enhance your character through personal upgrades, not to mention the system for upgrading your weapons and cars. As much as the open world contributes to the variety you'll experience in the gameplay, the customisation options are another layer that enriches the entire experience.

That open world of Steelport does present its own problems though. As full as it is with activities that earn you money and respect, and as varied as the stores and other shops you can patronise or just outright buy (you only get a discount at shops you own though), there's something lacking in terms of the overall layout. It's just not as interesting geographically as the world of Stillwater in the previous games. It's a bit too much like a simplified version of GTA IV's Liberty City, which would make it a super-simplified version of Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs. I don't know if that was the designers intent, but the world of Steelport just didn't grab me in the same way the prior games did, and I almost never felt like just driving around and looking at stuff.

My other big beef with the game is one of a more important nature, and more observable to the average gamer. I know that if you compare Saints Row: The Third to the original game -- running on the same hardware -- you can see the newer one is much more accomplished graphically. But it doesn't really hold up against other games of its generation, and looks rather retrograde. On top of that, the frame rate quite often chugged when a lot of things were happening onscreen. The glitches weren't anything more than I would expect from most open-world games (in which they are endemic), but the overall performance is often lacking.

Saints Row: The Third

Ultimately though, none of that matters too much. Saints Row: The Third creates so many moments of pure, unadulterated fun that take place in the middle of comically absurd situations that few things could really mar the experience. It's even got a ludicrous but satisfying storyline, complete with branching paths, that only gets more crazy and more intense as the game goes on. The game's two endings are like two completely different chapters in a book, and it allows you to go back and replay that mission from the other side once you're done, just as it leaves the world open for you to play in.

I'm not ashamed in my adoration of Saint's Row: The Third. It's juvenile, it occasionally objectionable (I'm sorry, I just don't like blasting away at bikini models, even if they are trying to kill me too) and sometimes after playing I feel like I should go take a shower. But I can't remember a game I've played recently that was so dedicated to letting the gamer have as much fun as possible any way they want to. And when it comes to having fun, Saints Row: The Third is like a big party that you don't want to see stop.

Saints Row: The Third Expert Verdict »

Available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC PC system requirements: OS: Windows® XP Processor: 2GHz Dual Core Processor (Intel® Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon™ X2) or higher Memory: 2GB System RAM or more Graphics: 320MB Video RAM GPU w/ Shader Model 3.0 support. NVIDIA® GeForce® 8800 series or better. ATI Radeon™ HD3800 series or better DirectX®: 9.0c Hard Drive: 10GB Sound: 100% DirectX® 9.0C compliant sound card or equivalent onboard sound Co-Op Play: NVIDIA® GeForce® 8800 cards require 640MB of Video RAM. ATI Radeon™ HD3800 cards require 1GB of Video RAM Online Steam Account
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

Fun, flexible, agreeably absurd gameplay involving a lot of things that go boom real big, plus a raft of very memorable characters: that pimp with the auto-tuned voice, Burt Reynolds... The game does suffer a few technical and interface issues, however.

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