Grand Theft Auto has gone through a long evolution. Comparatively, GTA’s prime competition, Volition’s Saints Row series, has largely stayed the same. What each successive Saints Row bring’s however, is more mayhem, while it can be argued that this insanity was largely absent from GTA IV.
The amount of indescribable chaos you can cause in Saints Row: The Third is truly impressive. To let you accomplish this, the game provides you with all the fire power you need to create havoc. The VTOL, the game’s version of a harrier jet, is particularly impressive. With it you can shoot hot hellfire down on the unsuspecting while hovering, then switch to jet mode and zoom away before the enemy can give chase. The variety and creativity of The Third’s weapons also provides many chances to make mischief.
The upgrade system helps fuel this carnage as well. An upgraded pistol for example, can fire explosive bullets which send your foes flying. Or you can upgrade your vehicles, making them so tough that instead of knocking other cars off the road, you can drive right through them, creating impressive explosions. The upgrade system is an excellent addition to the game. As you progress you earn more of a reputation, which in turn unlocks more upgrades to be purchased. The sheer number of upgrades creates an incentive to keep playing until your character is the ultimate killing machine.
Most of the missions give you a great opportunity to unleash mayhem as well. Moving from the familiar city of Stilwater to Steelport, your gang, the Saints, have a lot of work ahead of them if they hope to take over. Unlike the previous entries in the series, The Third is made up of a single, more cohesive storyline that will have you facing everything from mercenaries to Mexican wrestlers. Without revealing to much, some missions are not only entertaining, but contain many pop culture hommages. It is also nice that there are multiple outcomes to certain missions that have an effect on gameplay.
Most of the missions make great use of The Third’s arsenal, but some, especially the side missions, are lackluster. One of the new side missions which has you protecting your associates with a sniper rifle, is a dud. It’s point-and-shoot gameplay is no more engaging than the thousands of similar online flash games. Other side missions are similarly mindless, but they can easily be avoided if they’re not to your liking.
You can’t expect to make a name for yourself in Steelport though, without proper controls. While The Third’s combat lacks the finesse of some first-person shooters, the run-and-gun style fits the game well. The same can be said of the driving, which is suitably arcade-y. Sliding around corners in a sports car with half of the city’s police force in pursuit never gets old.
The Saints Row series has always given you the chance to commit the destruction and mayhem that made GTA great. Saints Row: The Third continues to up the ante, and it does so very well.