Comparisons to SR1 and SR2
”We traded our dicks in for pussies.”
From the first game onward, the Third Street Saints have been growing exponentially. Before the events of The Third, the Saints merged with the Ultor Corporation (primary antagonist of SR2) to became a global brand. You will see clothing stores with the Saints’ logo, mascots hawking the Saints’ energy drink, a movie deal, and even the characters themselves are more sharply dressed and business-like. This is referenced in the game frequently and fits with the new direction of the series: less gang warfare and more corporate warfare. At the end of many missions you are given two choices that will aid the Saints in some way and permanently alter the city’s landscape. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how your gang grows over time.
Sadly, a lot of content from the previous games has been eliminated or greatly reduced in SR3. There are no more minigames, nor can you perform jobs as a taxi cab driver or ambulance EMT. There’s no more racing, no FUZZ (taking down criminals as a cop in the most brutal way possible), and no demolition derbies, among other activities and diversions. Furthermore, Steelport has a lot less variety than Stilwater in terms of geography. In Stilwater there were dozens of neighborhoods with different styles and atmosphere and was just incredibly varied. Steelport feels smaller and less interesting. There are less indoor areas, too: no mall, no underground city with sewage system, and no public transit, for example.
There are three rival gangs in Saints Row: The Third
, all united under one Syndicate. Though each is different in their own way (cyberpunk teens, Mexican wrestlers, professional mobsters), complete with special lieutenants that have unique powers, they behave similarly enough to blend together into a generic bad guy soup. Lastly, the missions feel more disjointed and the cutscenes don’t transition very well. There are a lot of references to events that haven’t happened, making me believe a lot of content was cut, and though there are more missions they aren’t as varied as those found in SR2. In fact, many of these missions are just activities rather than something unique.
This is a bummer because the game starts out very strong. The first mission was highly scripted and well-voiced, with excellent pacing and action sequences. After that, most missions just end up being shootouts and nothing more. Also, a lot of great characters are underused and one of my favorites dies early on (which pissed me off to no end). Thankfully, some characters have returned from SR2 and provide excellent chemistry with yourself and each other. Other characters, not so much… like the incredibly annoying auto-tuned pimp. Yes, you read that right -- there’s a pimp whose cane is an auto-tuned microphone and he sings his dialogue. I thank the Almighty he’s never used after his brief story arc is over.
Most importantly, Saints Row: The Third
feels a lot shorter. You can probably get through most of the story missions in about 10 hours, with another 10 to 20 spent on sandboxing. Perhaps it feels shorter because I had so much fun that time sped by, but there is a certain je ne sais quoi that SR2 had and is now missing. It might be the variety, which SR3 is lacking in comparison. At one point or another, you will feel like you’ve been everywhere and done everything and have no more reason to continue. With SR2 I always had something to go back to that always felt fresh and exciting.