So this would be the latest game I have finished, still have a bunch to play thanks to overzealous “add to cart” clicking during the steam sale. Firstly, as the image suggests, any game which allows you to run about beating people senseless with a giant purple dildo bat, requires a certain concession when you begin playing. Here’s what I thought..

I haven’t played any Saints Row games before, preferring GTA games of this ilk. As the GTA games have gradually become more gritty and realistic, room has opened up for the polar opposite within the genre. This is where SR3rd comes in, take the most outrageous, ridiculous silliness you can think of, add in zombies and bdsm weirdness and you get the most bizarre psuedo comic book take on gang warfare you can imagine, and then some!

It’s been a long time since I played a game which felt this ok with just being fun and not taking itself too seriously or applying too many laws of reality to the gameplay. All games these days, put in elements of realism, things that stop you from breaking that video game barrier. SR3 seems to stick two fingers up to this notion and makes the impossible, possible.

Want to drive a tank around a city having a massive fight against rival gang members and giant brute wrestlers while shooting down choppers and crushing cop cars? go ahead. Want to fly through the sky in an A10 Warthog blowing crap up or base jumping without a parachute and not dying when you smack into the sidewalk? ok.

The basic premise is that you’re the leader of a gang known as “The Saints” who like purple…a LOT. Your gang is pretty famous, some bad guys show up and try to take you out….naturally they fail, you’re cast down into a city known as steelport and you have to build your gang up, buying up real estate, factories, shops etc for regular income. You spend your income on guns, cars, clothes, new cribs and perks that make you and your gang tougher, nastier and generally more silly.

It’s a lot like GTA, only on acid. When i was done streaking around the city showing off my “goods” for some respect, the games form of xp, I upgraded my gang into a bunch of ninjas and zombies and went to a bdsm club to shoot some bad guys and rescue some hookers…how many games can you write a sentence like that about?

The controls are fine, vehicles for the most part handle as you would expect, albeit with a little overbearing twitchy feel compared to GTA games. The aircrafts are interesting and mostly forgiving too, the one vehicle type I just couldn’t get used to were the tanks, they have turrets but so many past games have locked the turret to mouse and the WSAD controls to the chassis that having the mouse override the steering when i tried to turn the turret while moving was awkward and made it counterintuitive for me. I was reduced to always aiming forward when i was moving forward and had to stop in order to rotate the turret. Other than this small criticism though, it all works well.

At no point does the game really stop you being awesome, in fact, it positively encourages you to do everything with no real consequence, dying just resets mission progress and puts you at the nearest hospital, where you can continue on your rampage. creating and customizing your character, your cars, upgrading your guns and gang etc is addictive and I found myself buying up all the property and investing early to reap the benefits every hour on the cash income.

There is a main story and a series of side missions, such as a list of targets to assassinate or a series of vehicles to steal. These are all accessed via your mobile phone, essentially an in-game tool to summon helicopters, tanks, gang support, call Burt Reynolds to get the cops off your back, hang with your buddies, pick your favourite music tracks or as previously mentioned, buy and upgrade your perks. There are also a wide variety of city mission points, where you find a location and take a short break from the game to try a side activity such as an arena game show or escorting your homie in an attack helicopter.

By the end of the game I was pretty successful, having purchased so many upgrades and perks I had become invincible. Bullets, falling from tall buildings, fire and explosions couldn’t even ruffle my hair. If you think being invincible spoils the fun you’d be wrong, despite all concept of it being boring all it really does is cut out the bit where you die and re-spawn at a hospital. Instead, now you fight until you want to stop, at which point you call someone on your mobile, via perks which cancels gang or police attention. There is a time limit on how often you can use this but it’s not any longer than your hourly game income (which isn’t an hour of realtime btw).

The main story is both hilarious and ridiculous, the various activities and scenarios you end up participating in only add to the variety and enjoyment of the experience. Saints Row the third isn’t the longest game I have ever played but I’m not sure I’ve ever played a game that made me think “what the f…huh? how…” and made me smile all the way through. It’s proper schoolboy dream stupid and that carries with it a certain unique charm.

It’s rare these days to find something truly refreshing, a game that goes out of its way to be unrealistic and unlimiting, it’s well worth a purchase, you won’t regret it.

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