Gamescom 2011: Saints Row: The Third Hands-On Preview – Pushing the Awesome Button
Written Monday, August 29, 2011 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Saints Row 2 was insane. It took the open-world genre and threw a big old sack of crazy at it, exploding all over the city of Stilwater like a huge shower of shit from a septic tank. There's no sign of the poo-spraying Septic Avenger missions during our hands-on with Saints Row: The Third however, but there's still more than enough over-the-top violence, potty-mouthed dialogue, nutty fancy dress and missions seemingly plucked from the fevered mind of a mental patient.
Our first hands-on with Saints Row: The Third starts as it means to go on, with a hare-brained bank job in which your character and his fellow Saints don Johnny Gat masks and tear headlong towards the cashier's window only to find the entire bank is armed to the teeth. Naturally, a massive firefight ensues, immediately re-introducing us to Saints Row's gunplay, which is as straightforward and intuitive as always. But we decide to open our Saints Row: The Third kill account with a face slam into the floor using what Lead Writer, Drew Holmes calls “the awesome button”, which acts as a modifier for attacks turning them into kung-fu kicks, wrestling moves, super sprints and even entering vehicles... via the windshield.
But first, back to the bank heist, in which your masked criminal has to fight his way upstairs to plant a charge above the vault and blow the floor so that the Saints can fly in with a helicopter and tear it from its mooring and out of the bank via the destroyed roof. This is robbing a bank, Saints' style. Oh, and it all goes completely tits up too... With the bank's alarm ringing away, we blast through some SWAT troops with a pump-action shotgun, then while guiding in the helicopter's hooks and cables, we end up hanging off the vault as it gets hauled into the air.
At this point, we're attacked by SWAT and black helicopters from all angles, but in true Saints fashion, we have a heavy machine gun with infinite ammunition, meaning we're able to squeeze the trigger and spray bullets in every direction without a second thought. Having shot down several helicopters and piled up a few dozen bad guys, the section draws to a close and the Saints make off with the Syndicate's bank vault, no doubt inciting a heap of trouble between the two biggest warring factions in Steelport. Of course there'll be other criminal gangs to contend with, but the Syndicate will be the Saints' main turf rival.
For the next part of our hands-on demo, we're let off the leash in Steelport, dropped outside a Let's Pretend store where we can deck our character out in whatever outlandish attire we choose. So naturally, we opt for a lime-green gorilla's head, a bright red puffy pirate shirt, a cheerleader's mini-skirt and girlie pink cowboy boots. In Saints Row: The Third, you can create whatever hideous mutant you like, mixing and matching parts like some sort of grotesque Frankenstein's monster, including giving a male character a female voice and vice-versa.
Pressing the select button accesses your cell phone, which you can use to bring up your city map and mark waypoints to missions, so we head straight to Dr. Genki's Hyper Reality Climax, Saints Row: The Third's pre-order bonus DLC, which adds the twisted gameshow at various points around Steelport. We also have the mind-altering pre-order only 'All-Purpose Mollusc Launcher' in our arsenal, which is up there with Red Faction: Armageddon's rainbow-farting unicorn in the annals of the all-time maddest weapons. Good old Volition, eh?
Getting stuck in to some Dr. Genki action, we shoot our way through guys dressed in animal costumes, racking up points for shooting the armed mascots, dodging incoming bullets and crackling electrical barriers that intermittently switch on and off. It's fast and frantic stuff, but we soon feel like we should be back out on the Steelport streets exploring more of the activities on offer. After mucking about suplexing pedestrians, punching them in the nuts for some 'Testicular Manslaughter', stomping them for no apparent reason and launching brain-controlling octopuses that can be attached to craniums and then detonated, we resolve to dabble in some Insurance Fraud, one of our favourite activities from Saints Row 2.
After a solid ten minutes or so of throwing ourselves into traffic, we leap through the windscreen of a car using the 'awesome button' again, and ride out towards an Escort mission. This is no ordinary Escort mission though, as we have a fully-grown man-eating tiger clawing at us from the passenger seat. What follows is a balancing act between the 'animal rage' meter and your 'courage' gauge, the latter of which needs to be filled to complete the mission successfully. Lose your nerve by crashing or driving slowly, and the tiger will become enraged and tear you to pieces. To keep the big cat calm, you'll have to powerslide and drive fast, all while being chased by TV vans as the tiger is prodding you with its gigantic paws, causing your steering to go crazy. It's utterly surreal - like a Monty Python sketch - but oodles of fun. Hopefully, there'll be a lot more stuff like this in the full game.
Our hands-on with Saints Row: The Third is a slice of unadulterated, unhinged joy that is over all too soon. Upon putting the controller down, we feel like we've barely scratched the surface, with vehicle upgrades available from the 'Rim Jobs' garage, more weapons to be purchased from 'Friendly Fire' stores and new threads up for grabs at the Saints' own high-end apparel store, 'Planet Saints'. And like Saints Row 2, there's property to be snapped up and more activities than you can shake a big purple dildo at. That's assuming you're not distracted by causing general mayhem, blowing up cars, punching people in the balls or executing wrestling moves on the unsuspecting population. Saints Row: The Third is a big bag of crazy, that's for sure, but chances are, you're going to love it.
Saints Row: The Third is out on November 15th, 2011 in North America and November 18th in Europe.