Saints Row games are mental, but they weren’t always that way. The first two games really did try to go toe-to-toe with the Grand Theft Auto series. The first two games were, for the most part, straight-shooting open-world crime stories, though with a bit of silliness to set them apart from the franchise they were borrowing heavily from.
Saints Row: The Third, marked a big turning point for Volition’s ambitions, and it was from here that Saints Row took on a life of its own. It wasn’t trying to be a GTA-style game, it was its own thing. And it was truly mental.
Now, it’s impossible not to compare Saints Row: The Third Remastered with Saints Row 4. I’ve played the hell out of Saints Row 4 on PS4, and going back to Saints Row 3, remastered or not, is always going to be a weird downgrade. It’s like playing an entirely different franchise. The fourth game gives you super-human abilities inside a matrix-like reality. Saints Row: The Third is still grounded in some kind of actual reality, so there’s no leaping over buildings in a single bound, or running up the side of them for that matter. But does it hold a place in the here and now, in a world where Saints Row 4 exists?
If you’ve played Saints Row: The Third before, you already know what’s what. You just want to know if it looks pretty and runs better than it ever did on the PS3 and Xbox 360. If that’s what you’re looking for, I’ll save you a read and tell you straight: yes, it looks better, and yes, it runs better, and yes, it’s still a damn good game and you should buy it if you want to play it again.
If you’re a stranger to Saints Row: The Third – perhaps your introduction to the Saints was in the fourth game – let me tell you why it’s such a fun, yet insane, game.
The Saints have moved on from their humble beginnings and the city of Stilwater is now a distant memory. The Saints Row gang has become a media-savvy enterprise, complete with PR, a branded energy drink, and dim-witted fans who’ll beg for autographs from the gangsters while being held hostage by said gangsters. They’re criminals, but they’re rich and famous. Like most of Hollywood, then.
The Saints have moved onto new pastures, namely, the city of Steelport, which is run by a criminal outfit called the Syndicate, and its the Syndicate that acts as the big baddy. They will allow the Saints to operate in the city, but they want a massive chunk of the profits in return. This doesn’t sit well with the Saints, and after an encounter between Johnny Gat, Shaundi, your player character, and the leader of the Syndicate on a private plane, heads are smashed through windows, cars and trucks are thrown out the back of the plane, and you get into a free-fall shootout with hapless henchmen. And that’s all within the opening act. It certainly sets the tone for the rest of the game. Did I mention that this game is mental?
A few brief introductory missions teach you the ropes and introduce the gameplay loop. You’ll drive around with different members of the gang to different activities, and once you’ve done these activities once, you can go back and do them again in a harder setting. Some are crap, some are good. Thankfully, they’re generally short-lived, so the ones you don’t like can be done quickly, and the ones you do like can be done again and again in quick succession. Personally, I’m a massive fan of the ridiculous insurance scam activity, and I’ll never tire of watching my player character get twatted by a truck, sending him flying through the air, smashing into buildings and whatever else, with the insurance money meter rising all the time. It’s utterly stupid and if GTA tried to do it, we’d all sit back and wonder what has become of Rockstar Games, but it makes perfect sense in the twisted reality of Saints Row: The Third.
Activities are your side-missions, and they do make up much of the gameplay loop. Every so often, though, you’ll unlock a story mission, and these are generally good fun, too, as you’ll get cut-scenes with the colourful cast of crude characters, delivering zinger after zinger. The writing is sharp and witty, though it does border on the offensive at times, I never found myself reaching for the virtue signal. I don’t need to. The humour is spot-on for me, even if I do recognise some of it as being what the kids call “problematic.”
To keep the Third Street Saints in their fancy clothes, expensive penthouses, and bullets in their guns, you’ll need to have an income stream. This makes up the majority of the game, actually. Taking the fight to the three main gangs in the city: the Mexican wrestler gang, the Luchadores; the cyber-criminal hackers, The Deckers; and the European gun arms dealers, the Morning Star, rewards you with riches in the form of hourly income. Take over a slice of their turf and you’ll see your income increase. Take over more slices and you’ll have the entire pie, but that’s a lofty endeavour and it will take you ages. Not because the game is particularly hard, but because there’s just so much to do, and it’s very easy to get distracted. Or at least it was for me, but I’m easily distracted.
To keep you feeling like you’re achieving something, the game has upgrades for you, your weapons, and your gang. Money that you earn can be spent on improving your own abilities or the abilities of your gang members who can be called to help out in fights. It’s a handy little feature, actually, as health regenerates instead of dropping out of dead bodies, like in Saints Row 4. It took me a while to remember this and I died a few needless deaths because, well, I’m an idiot. I told you that going from Saints Row 4 to Saints Row: The Third wasn’t easy!
There’s a lot to like about Saints Row: The Third Remastered. I’d already played this game to death on the PS3, but to be able to do it again on PS4 was good fun. The graphics, while not being top-end, are a big improvement over the original, and it doesn’t look out of place as a current-gen release, but it’s more a AA game rather than a AAA blockbuster. And that’s fine. Graphics are half the story, the other half is you running around town slapping people to death with a giant purple dildo. I know which half I care about.
Saints Row: The Third Remastered PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8/10
Saints Row: The Third Remastered is ridiculous in so many ways. It’s over-the-top to the point of parody. It’s hilarious, it’s outrageous, and it can be quite offensive to delicate souls. It’s not perfect, but it’s a bloody good game made better with a few coats of new paint and polish.
- The writing is my favourite thing about the game, top stuff!
- Gameplay is satisfying, even if it’s not all that challenging.
- Looks and runs great on PS4 Pro, a big upgrade over the original.
- Loads of extras and DLC all included, making for a very good value package.
- The city can feel lifeless at times, and the lack of ambient audio really does drive this home.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.