Remastered versions of the previous generation’s classic games are all the vogue at the moment. Some welcome, some not so. It seems as if developers are holding back the brand new games for the much anticipated new generation of consoles (although the current Covid-19 pandemic has not helped!). The next game hot off the remastered production line is Saints Row: The Third Remastered. Published by Deep Silver and developed by Volition the much-loved game first released in 2011 gets a makeover for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Having played the game the first time around on my PS3 I was keen to revisit Steelport and see if it was still fun to rampage around the city in a crazy costume wielding the legendary Dildo Bat (no that isn’t a typo!). Read on to find out how I got on.
If you are not familiar with the Third Street Saints do not worry. You don’t have to have played the other Saints Row games to enjoy Saints Row: The Third Remastered. The intro to the game brings you up to speed and informs you that since the events of Saints Row 2 the Third Street Saints have become worldwide celebrities with their own clothing line, energy drinks, starring in their own adverts, and shortly to have a movie made about them. Cast your mind back to 2011 and you will remember that the cult of celebrity was in full swing. The idea of a criminal gang being worldwide celebrities is a satirical take on the whole cult of celebrity and the scourge of reality tv shows. This holds true to this day although we are thankfully beginning to move away from the cult of celebrity especially since many people have realised that in a worldwide pandemic they are not a lot of use and are slightly annoying (Gal Gadot and celeb friends “Imagine” singalong springs to mind).
The game starts off in the Saints home city of Stilwater with the Saints carrying out a bank heist (sound familiar) that quickly goes wrong. The Saints find themselves in prison but are soon bailed out by a mysterious group calling themselves the Syndicate. It transpires that the Syndicate owns the bank that the Saints tried to rob and they are not happy. The Saints are taken aboard the Syndicate’s plane and meet their leader who makes it clear that he wants a large cut of the Saints action. The Saints naturally refuse and a fight ensues. The plane crash lands in the city of Steelport and the fun really begins. Whilst the Syndicate has overall control of the city, the various districts of Steelport are controlled by three subordinate gangs who will need to be overthrown. They are the Morningstar, the Luchadores, and the Deckers. Each gang controls a different part of the criminal activity in the city. Once the gang war escalates the federal government sends in the Special Tactical Anti-Gang force or S.T.A.G. for short. Basically more people to fight but they have better weapons and tanks! For those who have played the other Saints Row games all this will be very familiar. The storyline missions push you forward to take control of the city and the side missions provide plenty of fun diversions.
The games control system is one area where Saints Row: The Third Remastered shows its age. Aiming your weapon isn’t as fluid as it should be and although it is cheating I do feel that the game would benefit from an auto-aim lock type feature. That’s probably a personal thing though as I like things easy. I also struggled with the helicopter controls and completed the flying section more by accident than design. The aiming issues were most apparent in one of the first set pieces of the game where you find yourself free-falling from a plane. I did eventually get the hang of it and it is worth persevering.
One of the most fun aspects of the game are the huge variety of crazy outfits, weapons, and vehicles that are available. With human cannonball cars, jet-powered broomsticks, large bobbleheads, the famous dildo bat and an exploding octopus gun the variety of choice is mind-boggling. You can customise your character early on in the game and with the DLC items being available from the start you are instantly able to use powerful weapons and vehicles. Some of the costumes and vehicles are completely impractical but very amusing. If you have a slightly juvenile sense of humor you will love this aspect of the game.
It is inevitable that comparisons will be made with the GTA series and especially GTA V. By doing so you are missing the point of Saints Row: The Third Remastered. It is deliberately over the top and ridiculous and this was seemingly done by the devs to distinguish it from GTA. As those who have played Saint Row IV will know, the series only gets even more outrageous and far fetched. The GTA series went the other way with GTA V breaking the mould back in 2013 and delivering a living breathing bustling city that carried on living even when you turned your console off. Steelport is not like that. It must be remembered that the game is older than GTA V and Steelport and its residents are simply there for your amusement. This is a not bad thing and the game does not in any way take itself seriously and is simply meant to be fun and it certainly delivers in this respect.
It is clear from the off that it is this aspect of Saints Row: The Third Remastered that has received the full remaster treatment. Whilst, not the best graphics you will see on the PS4 they are a vast improvement on the original. With improved lighting effects and an improved weather system the game at times looks great. However the bright sun and fog can make the game a bit dingy on occasions. It’s definitely an improvement but it is far from perfect and can be a bit hit and miss. Some of the characters, cars, and weapons models have been rebuilt from the ground up and are much improved from the original. However not everything has been enhanced and some things look out of place. Graphically the game is currently a bit buggy but not enough to detract from your enjoyment of the game. Hopefully, future patches will deal with some of these issues. Overall a much better looking game but it does not push the PS4 to its limits. Having said that it is a remaster and not a remake.
One word – Banging. The fantastic soundtrack from the original game returns and is the perfect background to your explosive rampage around the city. The now-familiar and often used in car radio stations are present and correct and there are some absolute classics on their various playlists. The theme tune to Friday Night Dinner is there (a tune that I only found out recently is a legitimate dance track and not especially written for the show – every day’s a school day) although there isn’t a Jim costume available for your player to wear. As well as the in-car entertainment certain missions in the game have been perfectly soundtracked by the devs. The choice of Kanye West’s “Power” to accompany your raid on a party in a penthouse early on in the game is inspired. As I parachuted out of the helicopter and landed in the rooftop swimming pool Mr. West’s dulcet tones and the thumping bassline were the perfect accompaniment to the ensuing carnage. Whilst the visuals have been greatly enhanced I am pleased that the soundtrack in the game has stayed the same. As they say “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.
The voice acting in the game has stood the test of time and is genuinely funny in parts. If you are offended by swearing however it might not be to your taste. But then again if you offended by swearing then Saints Row: The Third Remastered is really not for you in any event.
As with all open-world sandbox games there is plenty to keep you occupied with the main storyline, side missions and the three extra expansion mission packs to grapple. With the crazy weapons, vehicles, and outfits you will also find yourself spending a lot of time simply messing around. You are probably looking at around 30-40 hours worth of gameplay on single-player mode and there is also online co-op if you get bored with playing by yourself. Plenty to keep you occupied until they finally release The Last of Us 2, Cyberpunk, and the other AAA titles that are continually being pushed back.
If you missed the game the first time around or were too young to play it I would recommend giving the game a go. For those who played it on the PS3 or Xbox 360 the only real difference you will see is the enhanced visuals and the fact that you have a lot of the DLC weapons and vehicles at the start of the game. Other than that it is the same game. As it says on the tin it is a remaster and not a remake. The storyline and missions are the same along with the three extra expansion mission packs. As stated above some of the humor will come across as a bit dated and some may be offended by some aspects of the game. If you take it as it is intended as a bit of fun, you are not easily offended and appreciate that the core game is nearly ten years old then you will have a blast with Saints Row: The Third Remastered. It’s chaotic and crazy and does not take itself too seriously and is a bit of fun and relief in these strange times we are currently living in.
I award Saints Row: The Third Remastered a Thumb Culture Gold Award
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.