I discovered the Saint’s Row series after Yahtzee (of Zero Punctuation. If you’ve never seen his reviews, check him out. Now.) gave it high praise as a GTA IV clone that dumped all the angst, grit and cousin-caretaking in favor of flat-out ridiculous fun. Based in large part on that recommendation, I decided to give Saint’s Row 2 a try when it came to Japan.
Quite simply, the game was fantastic. I’d never played the first Saint’s Row, but the intro gives you as much backstory as you need: you’ve been in a coma for five years after a bomb explosion (an actual event at the end of Saints Row 1), and in the meantime the Saints have broken up and three new gangs have taken over the city. Most of this is fed to you in the course of gameplay, so the flow is very smooth. You then free your best friend from death row, get a few new lieutenants working under you, and get to work taking over and taking apart the entire city.
Like GTA IV, you’re dropped into a sprawling metropolis with miles of highways, streets and alleys to explore. Unlike GTA IV, you’re not constantly being pestered by your cousin asking to go bowling or to strip bars, and there are no relationships that need tending. You can pursue the actual storyline at your leisure (and you’re free to pick and choose which of the three storylines to advance), and there’s enough fun to be had with the side games or just screwing around to keep you occupied for hours on end. The best part about the game, however, is the humor. The team at Volition understood the nature of people who want to be let loose in a citywide sandbox for the purpose of creating chaos and catered to them 100% with side games that included flinging yourself into traffic, flashing pedestrians, car surfing, and dousing entire neighborhoods in raw sewage. Plus, the dialog was hilarious, and even just walking down the street listening to passers-by was a treat. But that was three years ago, and while I still come back to play it now and then, I’ve explored all it has to offer.
Today, I saw this: the Saint’s Row: The Third trailer (hosted by the Escapist).
It looks great, but then most trailers do. It’s by the Volition team again, so that’s a good sign that it will have the same high-energy blend of humor and action. Unfortunately, my 2008-vintage PC may not be up to the task of running it.
Release is scheduled for November this year, so I’ll be on the lookout for it.