I have a bit of a confession to make. I don’t really like Grand Theft Auto games. Sure, I buy them when they first come out like everybody else, but I only enjoy them for about 10 of the approximately 347 hours that each one takes to complete. After that, I just drive around looking for dumb things to do and cool ways to blow stuff up. I know that is sort of the standard way to play an open-world crime game, but I don’t enjoy getting caught in the loop of trying to find things that are fun to do in the video game that I am playing for fun.
Now, I mention this because at first glance, Saint’s Row: The Third looks an awful lot like GTA. It is not. Yes, you are a criminal and, yes, you do steal cars and shoot guys, but that is really where the similarities end. Saint’s Row captures the feeling that the city is there for you to do whatever you want, but then it throws all concept of restraint out the window. One of the pre-order bonuses is a gun that launches exploding, mind-controlling octopuses octopi the plural of octopus. This is a game that hasn’t even tried to answer the question “why not?”
In GTA IV, you have to put in hours of gameplay before you get access to a tank. In Saint’s Row, you drive a tank in the third mission. The game doesn’t waste any time at all. This is why I love this game. It respects your time. Sure, there are rewards for progressing the story and completing objectives, but there is a ton of stuff to do early. The game designers clearly want to ensure that you are having a great time all the time.
Now, for those of you with young kids, this is one of the most offensive games I have ever played. There are moments that could make Hef blush, but these are intended as humor. Many of the jokes fall flat, but it is clear that they were going for the joke. If you can ignore some terrible and insensitive humor, or are a thirteen-year-old boy, then this won’t be a problem. There were some times that I didn’t feel comfortable playing this with an audience. If this is something that you can get past, there is an incredible game waiting behind the poop jokes.
The thing that Saint’s Row does so well is break the expectations for a longer game. GTA, Skyrim, and every MMO I have ever played have one thing in common. You have to put in a bunch of work to get to the fun. Saint’s Row approaches this differently. Their attitude seems to be that you have purchased the game, so you should get access to all the fun. Sure, there are some things that are unavailable until you compete certain story points, but there is a tremendous amount of stuff that you can play early. If you want a game that is fun and rewarding from start to finish, this is a great option. If you want a game that you can play while working at a daycare, try anything else.