Saints Row: The Third: Sandpapering the nowhere man

Friday, 2nd December 2011 08:12 GMT By Patrick Garratt

Meaningless and imbecilic, Saints Row: The Third is a benchmark in sociopathy and one of the year’s most essential games. Patrick Garratt’s drunk on anonymity.

Saints Row: The Third is the true epoch of the violence end-game, a beachhead for a new wave of nugatory murder simulation that smooths the plaster against which narration repeatedly sandpapers its face.

I’m fucking unbeatable. I don’t need to listen when Saints Row talks to me. I know the Morning Stars are a gang of clones in suits and stockings, and that I go to parties full of women wearing g-strings. Doesn’t mean much. I’m an old black man with a smashed-in face. There’s all this shit on my phone I could do, but I don’t. I buy extra health on occasion, but it doesn’t make much difference. At least, I don’t die very often. Would I be dying more if I didn’t buy some upgrade to whatever? No idea. I pick a mission and follow the arrows. When I get bored I murder some people.

I like not caring. Saints Row: The Third is, thankfully, GTA Lite. Grand Theft Auto IV is, without question, one of the most boring games I’ve ever played. You can throw me in the fucking sea for saying it, Rockstar: facts are facts. It’s a po-faced tedium simulator, as epic in its vision and achievement as it is in its aversion to entertainment. Three-point turns; paying tolls; sending emails; going fucking bowling: lost on me. I don’t want to live someone else’s life. I have emails of my own.

There’s this bit in Saints Row, right, where there’s a fucking tiger in the car and some clown wants you to conquer fear. I don’t know what the point of any of it was. I didn’t read the instructions at the start of the mission because I didn’t even see them. And I’m ramming around this city in some fucking Rolls Royce, or whatever, with this tiger hitting me on the head, and there are two gauges in the top left of the screen and I have no idea what either of them mean. If I drive around and smash into stuff, my courage goes up. If I hang around and get mauled by the tiger, his rage becomes more intense. I so want to be brave, so I crash a lot and the top meter goes up and the game shouts, through my television, as loud as it can, “I’m fucking unbeatable.”

Me. Killing people.

I’m fucking unbeatable. It drowns out the music. I’m fucking unbeatable and I’m fighting a tiger. I’m not going bowling. I’m fighting a tiger.

GTA IV put me off open-world crime games so strongly I nearly didn’t play Saints Row: The Third. I started the 360 version after I finished Uncharted 3 because I’ve got Skyrim on PC and I wanted something to play in my living room. At first I hated it. Just looked like some rough-assed GTA cash-in. But I went on with it, got into the character customisation, and made my injured man.

A few missions in I parachuted into a penthouse gun battle to Kanye and shotgunned people in the face. Amazing and pointless. I’m shooting friends, windows, enemies, breaking necks and jumping up and down and I’m not dying because I’m fucking unbeatable. I’m only four hours into it, about a third of the way through the campaign, but the blend of uncomplicated idiocy and open access to a suite of ADHD toys easily prised me away from Skyrim’s “depth”. I don’t have to concentrate in Saints Row beyond picking up some hookers and molotoving a tramp. I’m not anyone. I’m some insane prick with a bloody face driving a flaming ATV. I’m king of a world so repugnant it’s irrelevant.

Who’s this? Why does it matter?

Take the dildo bat. It’s got a name but I don’t know what it is. In GTA IV, dildos are in shops, placed on shelves for dramatic effect during scenes with crime clichés and orderly charlie lines. Saints Row: The Third just has this squirly dildo in it. You sort of just get it. I don’t know where it came from. I can whip people with it. It’s a giant, bendy, purple middle finger to GTA’s groping attempts at realism, a joke so stupid it’s can’t fail to work. I got a rocket launcher, too, because I picked one up once. I never run out of money because that would be frustrating if I wanted to buy hand grenades to blow up trucks, and I’ve got a helicopter so I can access all areas of the map within the first few hours of the game. I’ve got a parachute. I’ve got a sniper rifle. I can kill anything and anyone. I can endlessly murder men and women, shooting them in the genitals, grabbing teenagers from roadsters, punching them in the face only to crash five seconds later to return to shoot them in the head. None of it matters.

Saints Row: The Third is the true epoch of the violence end-game, a beachhead for a new wave of nugatory murder simulation that smooths the plaster against which narration repeatedly sandpapers its face.

It has me by the balls. Why sense? Game of my year.



  1. Freek

    My GOTY aswell, discribing it makes you sound insane. But it works, it’s knowingly stupid. Everything from the designs, to the sound track is just cheesy enough. It references verry specific things and in a very funny and over the top way.
    You’re constanly thinking to yourself “I can’t believe that just happend” and then the game gets even crazier.

    The weapon is called The Penetrator. Yup.

    “Oh look, there’s enemy gang activity in my territory, that’s not cool, I should probably get on my cell phone and have a ninja deliver a tank to deal with them.”

    #1 3 years ago
  2. The_Red

    I can’t wait to get this one. LOVED the hell out of Saints Row 2 and this seems to be even more of that (Didn’t like original SR, felt too much like a GTA and less like uber crazy thing that its sequels became).

    Also, fucking awesome read. This game is “fucking unbeatable”!

    #2 3 years ago
  3. YoungZer0

    I was kind of getting bored with the game to be honest. Gameplay-wise it’s too much like the second entry in the series.

    I’m one of those people who cares about the game when the story is interesting or at least the characters in the story are interested. Nobody in the game cares, so i don’t care as well. I’m doing the main missions only since everything else is kind of boring. The Gameplay is just no fun at all.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. Freek

    But the story is the best part! Yeah, there’s one moment in the game early on, where you have 4 missions at the same time, and they’re all side activities, but after that….TOTAL INSANITY!

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Razz

    Nice one! My copy is coming in the post today ^_^

    #5 3 years ago
  6. YoungZer0

    @4: I’m already past that. It also has a lot of freaking annoying characters.

    To think people complained about that Cousin dude …

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Deacon

    Sounds like a good rental, but I can see it getting boring pretty damn fast.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. Freek

    It’s the most unboring games i’ve ever played, the article only mentions some of the side stuff rather then the story missions, wich is good because that would spoil the game.
    Took me about 17 hours to finish the main game, there’s more variaty there then you could imagine. Talking about that stuff would spoil it. But you could almost say; think of something cool, and it’s probably in Saints Row The Third. Not an exaduration.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. DiodeX

    Where this game wins is the pure pick up and play aspect of it, what do you need instructions for?
    If I want to kill 30 mins, you can. You don’t have long drawn out missions(atm). Love it really.

    I spend 75% of time not doing the main missions, but when you do they are all epic. From what I have played, every proper mission feels like a game ending mission, they all have that climatic feel to them.

    Shark gun (160M$) is pure genius!, cover a foe in fish guts, 5-4-3-2-1 SHARK ATTACK!

    #9 3 years ago
  10. Prof.Dr.Moertel

    The game is completely awesome, insane and hilarious. I can easily overlook some of the major flaws in the story, since it doesn’t really matter anyway.

    Oh, and parodies. Lots of parodies. The Tron level is probably one of my all-time favorites.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. silkvg247

    It’s my GOTY too. I rarely have a game I can’t put down and this was one of them. I want more…

    #11 3 years ago
  12. DSB

    The GOTY still belongs to Portal 2, but I absolutely agree on this one PatGar.

    I think it had kind of a slow start until you finish the first act, but that’s essentially when the missions get going and you really start getting busy with the upgrades, and the game turns into a full fledged demented chaos simulation.

    The turning point for me was the tiger mission as well. That was fucking hilarious.

    Actually one thing I appreciated about the cutscenes and the way the story was pulled forward, was that it really wasn’t trying to throw any punches. It certainly didn’t matter whether you watched the cutscenes or not, but ultimately watching them didn’t obligate you to buy some grandiose plot at all.

    It was just a tightly knit group of friends killing everybody else for the sake of casual gangland domination and vengeance. Simple, appealing and fun.

    Also, seamless co-op that doesn’t pull a single feature from the core game? Excellent.

    @10 Any game that contains a text adventure gag deserves all the praise in the world.

    @3 I thought that was the smartest part of the game. The writing is actually really good, it just isn’t trying to make anything “epic”, or stuff you with notes on everyone. Instead it tells you a lot about the characters themselves and how they relate to eachother.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. Lahanas

    Saints Row is one of the most overrated series in gaming. I cant stand all this over-the-top shit, really boring.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. shmacko

    MGOTY – Skyrim

    #14 3 years ago

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