Back in the mid-2000s, I booted up my Xbox 360 and I was inducted into the 3rd Street Saints gang. I wore the purple proudly, as I murdered my way through the rival gangs of Stillwater. This was a new age for open-world games, with far more extensive customization than other games had at the time and other innovative features. Since that time, there have been a number of sequels, spin-offs, and re-releases but the core has remained similar. Now in 2020, we take a look at Saints Row the Third: Remastered – a re-release of the third entry with improved graphics.
Saints Row as a series has gotten less and less serious as time goes by. Starting as a comedic game where your gang will spray sewage on people at most, the later entries involve luchadors, clones, aliens, and demons. To me, Saints Row the Third hits the right balance of silly and serious – you might fight a luchador and rescue someone from a BDSM club, but you don’t have a superpowered fight with an alien overlord as the president. That was fun though.
You play as the leader of the Third Street Saints. This can be whoever you would like it to be to some extent – in my case it’s a slim man with purple hair and a British accent. Whatever your customization choices, the lines spoken remain almost identical (unless you choose the zombie voice).
As Saints Row the Third: Remastered opens, you are on top of the world. Not only rich from your illicit activities from the previous games, but the Saints have become a cultural icon. You’ve got movie offers, your own clothing brand, and even your own energy drink!
This soon changes as you decide to rob a bank owned by the wrong person. The leader of the Syndicate – a coalition of three gangs. They are dragged before him, told to join, and give him a large cut of the profits and told they cannot refuse. They refuse, but there is a casualty in the process, their accounts are drained and they are thrown into a new city.
The rest of the story focuses on building their empire back up and working towards their revenge against the Syndicate. You meet new characters along the way and experience that mix of silly and serious while building up to the conclusion. There are plenty of detours along the way, but the game is structured so you can either focus on the main story or spend time blowing up tanks. And blowing up tanks is really fun.
The comedic moments in the story were outright hilarious at times. One early example I previously mentioned is where you rescue a potential ally from the basement of a BDSM club. You need to interrogate some of the club attendees and some of the lines they come out with made me laugh out loud. They obviously enjoyed it a bit more than the leader of the Saints was comfortable with.
Despite the comedic side being the main draw, it’s not all funny moments. There is a lot of casual violence, but the central theme is about revenge for their fallen friend. One thing which has remained consistent throughout the series is that the leader does value friendship, despite being a murderous psychopath. Seeing just how far they go for their friend helped to connect me with the story and characters, rather than it just being a fun game to run around shooting people. I particularly liked certain points where serious choices had to be made. The series always values customization, so seeing it extended to the story was a bonus.
The story is told mostly through missions, but I appreciated all the little comments made by the characters as you play both on missions and outside. While just wandering the world, they speak up. I found that these dialogues, the speeches on the radio, and all these extra touches really helped to build the world.
This is an open-world, third-person shooter with quite a lot of driving. But so are a lot of games, so what makes Saints Row the Third: Remastered unique? I could argue that the existence of a weapon that shoots a mind-controlling octopus or another that summons a shark to eat the target is certainly distinctive enough. Those examples were originally DLC weapons, but they’re not really too far removed from the base game’s large, floppy, vein-covered dildo known as the ‘Penetrator’ weapon, which can be used to beat someone to death and humiliate them as the same time.
The tone is what I’d say makes it unique. Just how over-the-top and comedic some parts of it are is what differentiates it. It has this in every aspect of the game. You can jump through the windshield of cars to enter them. ‘Nut shots’ are recorded and a bonus is given if you get enough of them. You can defeat certain enemies by sticking a grenade in their mouth as a finisher after wearing them down enough. This is one of the main aspects that made me enjoy this game.
Following along these lines, as well as some more serious missions such as fighting your way through an enemy stronghold to reach a target, you get activities all over the map. Some of these are missions, but some are optional. Activities such as participating in a murder-themed gameshow are quite similar in some ways, only adding in traps and scoring to the idea of fighting through a base but the concept and commentary add a lot of enjoyment to it. Then you just get over the top fun, such as destroying as much as you can with a tank before your time runs out.
Saints Row the Third: Remastered is a playground. You can have shoot-outs with the police and rival gangs. You can go on a destructive rampage. You can drive and fly about a fairly large city and pick up collectibles and participate in activities. There is a lot of fun to be had, if you just explore and try it all out.
Saints Row The Third was in some ways ahead of its time back on the late-2011 release date and remains fun now. Saints Row the Third: Remastered has improved the graphics, but it is worth noting that the graphics are the only major improvement.
If the game was remade today, I could see some potential for improvement around the movement, around the driving, and lots of little touches such as having even further customization of the games many outfits and accessories. With that said, it still feels great to play. You just may notice that slightly older feeling, despite the shiny new graphics.
One thing which I had mixed feelings on was the inclusion of the DLC from the very start. As someone who has completed the game on other platforms multiple times, it’s fine. New players however may miss that slow build-up, getting better and better vehicles and weapons – you’ve already got a shark gun, an incredibly fast car, a VTOL, and a tank in your crib. Fortunately they did not include the Bloodsucker Pack DLC from the original release, which impacted the balance by allowing health regeneration via vampirism. On the positive side, the cosmetic DLC was included. This gives tons of options for customizing your characters from the very start. The build-up is still there when it comes to upgrading your abilities and upgrading the standard weapons at least.
Steelport looks great, but the Third Street Saints look even better. There have certainly been great improvements all-around in the graphics, but the character models and vehicles are the most notable. Lighting stands out too. It’s not perfect. You can still see the odd billboard with textures that aren’t quite up to snuff for a native 2020 game and other bits and pieces the same. I still feel like it passes.
I played Saints Row the Third: Remastered on PC with all the settings turned up to the maximum. Performance held up admirably without any noticeable dips or issues while playing normally. There were two minor things which I came across though; much as the original Saints Row the Third does, it tried to put me into 720p mode by default and it sometimes had issues including a couple of crashes when Alt-Tabbing out of full-screen mode. Borderless was not an option. Normal gameplay did not have any technical issues though and it all ran smoothly when opening and closing the game as expected to.
Saints Row the Third has always been one of the most fun games I’ve played and Saints Row the Third: Remastered brings that to a new group of players. Perhaps it could have made more improvement as a Remaster considering the price charged, but the amount of sheer fun you can have makes it well worth playing. There are tons of things to do from structured missions to achievements based on driving on the wrong side of the road. This is not a game that you will be done with by just completing the story.
SAINTS ROW THE THIRD: REMASTERED IS RECOMMENDED
Saints Row the Third: Remastered can be purchased digitally for PC on the Epic Store. It can be bought digitally and physically for PlayStation 4 and XBox One. The non-remastered version is available for for PC on Steam and Nintendo Switch.
Many thanks to Koch Media for the review copy.
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A gamer since the days of Amstrad and DOS and someone who has dabbled in a variety of professions. He enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has been focusing on visual novels and virtual reality in recent years. Head Editor of NookGaming. Follow him and the website on @NookSite.