This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.
A while back I loudly sang the praises of Saints Row 2, proclaiming it to be a hilarious and ultraviolent joy of a sandbox game which put the dour and uninspiring Grand Theft Auto IV to shame. The customisation on offer, the sheer amount of things to do in the game, the way the plot was constructed to provide opportunities for gleefully stupid violence, the little surprises to be found simply through exploring Stilwater, its setting. As a result of all this I was quite looking forward to Saints Row: The Third, the sequel which promised to shake things up by taking the action to the all-new city of Steelport, and on balance I’m not sorry I gave it a try – but at the same time, I should probably have rented the thing rather than purchasing.
Having destroyed all the rival gangs and beaten the evil Ultor Corporation in Saints Row 2, the Third Street Saints have become pop cultural icons and live a life of international celebrity – to the point where during the tutorial mission, in which you and the other lead Saints rob a bank, the customers get all excited and ask for your autograph. However, they’ve also ended up on the radar of the Syndicate, a major international crime organisation headquartered in Steelport. After a botched attempt to kidnap and neutralise the Saints’ leaders sees Johnny Gat dead and the Saints’ chief (the PC) loose on the streets of Steelport, the Saints swing into action to take control of the city and get revenge on the three major gangs of the Syndicate – the Morningstar, who are completely bland and don’t really have much of a schtick, the Luchadores who are, er, luchadores, and the Deckers, who are cybergoth hackers. Things get all the more complicated when the escalating gang violence prompts the government to send in S.T.A.G., an elite anti-gang unit, with orders to neutralise all of the gangs – even if it requires the imposition of martial law to do it.
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