E3 2011: Saints Row: The Third Preview
It’s a shame, in one deeply selfish sense, that Saints Row: The Third looks so exciting. Had it looked like a misstep for the series, the game would lend itself wonderfully to the scatological mistitling: Saints Row: The Turd. But, as I say, it instead looks quite thrilling.
Deranged and borderline psychopathic, but thrilling.
Volition promise that The Third will be returning to the open-world-playground-for-lunatics theme trodden by Saints Row 2 “and then some”. To get the plot stuff out of the way quickly, the Saints gang now find themselves in the brand new city of Steelport, which is run by a triumvirate of rival gangs known collectively as The Syndicate. Wanting to maintain their independence, the Saints refuse an offer to join said Syndicate and must now fight to wrest the city from their grasp and put it firmly under their own control.
Ok, fine, that’s the narrative fluff. Now please forgive me in advance for the rest of this preview being examples of “here are some very stupid and sadistic things you’ll be able to do in Saints Row: The Third”.
It’s not enough in this game to just be able to walk down a street and punch a pedestrian. No. What you’ll be wanting to do instead is grab a lady in a skin-tight leopardprint outfit by the shoulders, frog hop over her, punch her in the face and then run away in glee. Then, you should probably rush across the street to perform a flying, neck-grab takedown on another hapless peon, followed up by a David Brent style desk-pose. After that, it might be an idea to pull out your massive, purple ‘dildo-bat’ and slap people to the ground with it. Finally, how about switching out your weapon for some oversized fists and bursting a member of the general public like a pus-filled boil with a single punch.
And that was just a few minutes of the E3 demo.
Saints Row: The Third is going to be absurd, puerile and vicious. Within moments of having performed a sweet little Fable-esque dance with a streetwalker, it’s possible to call in a moderately sized tactical airstrike on some Syndicate gang members. This is a game where you’ll find yourself donning a retro space suit, stealing a Lamborghini and messing up its pristine white paint job by slamming into more unfortunate pedestrians; sending them flying towards the stars like rotund bowling pins full of flesh.
That’s obviously not the only vehicle you can drive, though. You can also get behind the wheel of an off-white van with a cannon on the back and a pink cat’s face on the front, with “suck it up” scrawled along the bodywork. Naturally this cannon can indeed suck people up (those poor old innocent pedestrians again, though probably rival gangs too) and fire them into the air. It’ll also be possible to fire yourself out of the cannon, or do the same to your co-op partner (yep, as with Saints Row 2, The Third can be played through in full with online co-op).
Superbly enough, Volition insist that a lot of this stuff won’t even take too long to get hold of. The developers apparently don’t much like the idea of a sandbox that doesn’t share its toys until the very end of the day.
To take a slight detour back to the main narrative for a second, around about mid-game the US government apparently take an interest in the ongoing Steelport conflict and send a special unit to help clear up the problem. As you can imagine, this only adds to the chaos and will result in even more hardware for you to abuse as a player.
One such treat will be a vertical take-off jet equipped with laser beams and heat seeking missiles. The E3 demo showed this off, and inadvertently gave a hint as to the size of the city (which Volition simply say is “big enough”). Flying in a straight line in the jet for 15 seconds or so didn’t seem to have put much of a dent in the overall world map, so it should be safe to say that it’s of a decent size. With enough influence, you’ll even be able to make your mark on Steelport by constructing looming skyscrapers complete with features like helipads, upon which to land a no-doubt ill-gotten collection of choppers.
In short, Saints Row: The Third looks specifically designed to give the staff of the Daily Mail a collective aneurysm (not exactly an ignoble goal) and to give lovers of freeform, ludicrous games a wide, sloppy-mouthed grin. Following up on a game that allowed you to damage local house prices by driving past in a sewage truck and spraying them with effluence isn’t the easiest task in the world, but the dildo-bashing, jet carnage and pedestrian-launching cannon-truck seem like a promising start.
The full extent of Saints Row: The Third’s madness will only be known on 15 November in the US (18 November in the EU), for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. Until then, dream sweetly of walking the streets in a fur-suit and inflicting creative pain on a succession of undeserving ballsacks.
Continue to check out IncGamers.com as our E3 2011 coverage continues. To read the latest from E3 2011 click here.