It’s pretty hard to escape chatter about GTA V. It’s all over Facebook, Twitter, TV, radio, billboards, buses… All this hype got me thinking about that other franchise that involves wreaking havoc in an open city, and the third entry in the series that was sitting in my Library begging for attention.
You know what they say: If you can’t play the one you’ve heard about incessantly, play the one you’re with.
Saints Row: The Third, you’ll do for now.
If you’ve played any GTA since number 3, a previous Saints Row, or even a Crackdown, then you basically know what to expect from Saints Row: The Third (SR3). It doesn’t try to change or subvert the GTAlike formula, it simply takes that formula to extremes of ridiculousness. Singlehandedly terrorising an entire city in any other GTAlike is already ridiculous, so why not let the player do it as a green-skinned, mustachioed Latina with a giant purple dildo and military airstrikes at her disposal?
This philosophy underpins much of the game’s design and helps to elevate the series from mere clones to a genuine alternative to the grim, film-and-TV-aping nihilism of the GTAs. In taking such heavy inspiration from gritty realistic drama, Rockstar ensure that the GTA games will never actually surprise us with anything other than technical proficiency, and they’ll never do anything that couldn’t be done (likely better) by AMC or HBO.
Volition, on the other hand, know they’re making a video game, they love that they’re making a video game. They’re going to fill their game with so much ridiculous shit that you would never see on TV, simply because they can.
In GTA IV you can steal a taxi and work as a cab driver. In SR3 you can go on a deathsport reality game show that’s one part Running Man and one part Takeshi’s Castle. In GTA IV you can go bowling with your cousin. In SR3 you can drive a flaming ATV through anyone and anything that gets in your way. In GTA IV you’ll have dramatic conversations with corrupt cops. In SR3 you’ll enlist the help of a pimp with an auto-tuned electrolarynx.