As I have mentioned before, being a poor video game reviewer this time of year is strangely pressuring. Yes, there are countless great and interesting games being released right now, but I will never be able to review all of them promptly. This problem was even more heightened this past week. On Friday, 11/11/11/11, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim was released, and the following Tuesday saw the release of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, the tenth anniversary of Halo, and Saint’s Row the Third.
I have played a little bit of all of them, and can tell you that Assassin’s Creed is still Assassin’s Creed. Halo Anniversary is a direct remake of the original Halo and is by definition more Halo. Skyrim is a gigantic, immersive, open-world RPG that exceeds every one of my expectations and promises to ruin my life for months or years to come. These games are all good and worth your time and money, but I’m not going to talk about any of these right now. We’re going to discuss Saint’s Row.
Saint’s Row the Third is the best Grand Theft Auto game I have ever played. The plot is ridiculous, the characters are boring, and I don’t care. The story missions are absolutely banana-pants crazy, the world is engrossing and weird, and the character creation boggles the mind. In about five minutes, I created a surprisingly good rendition of Axe Cop. Now, I roam the streets delivering secret attacks to bad guys.
What makes Saint’s Row so cool is the sense of goofy fun that seeps out of every digital – ok, I’m grossed out now. Just to explain how awesome (both definitions at the same time) the missions are, I will briefly describe two of them. In the first mission, you rob a bank operated by mercenaries, while wearing a giant bobble-head mask (you, not the mercenaries). In the second mission, you start a gunfight inside a plane, jump out the back of the plane, kill a bunch of dudes while skydiving (you and the dudes), then catch your partner and pull the ripcord. So, what happens next? The freaking plane tries to ram you, so you drop your partner, shoot the window of the plane, cut your parachute, fly through the plane while shooting guys, and grab a parachute on your way out of the plane for a second time. Then, you skydive, kill some dudes, catch your partner, and safely land. This is the second mission. This isn’t something they saved for the over-the-top climax of the game. This is the second mission.
The point here is that Saint’s Row the Third is the best parts of Grand Theft Auto without any restraint. Every single decision that was made in the creation of this game seems to have been entirely based on how much fun it would be to play. There are some truly offensive and tasteless parts of this game; seriously, this is worse than the stuff racist ten-year-olds say while playing Call of Duty, but, in general, the terribly offensive stuff works because it’s stupid. This wasn’t the best game I’ve played this year; depending on how I measure it, Arkham City or Skyrim would probably take that title. Saint’s Row is the most surprising game I’ve played.
Seriously, I’m running around as Axe Cop!