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July 2020

Saints Row: The Third Remastered

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Deep Silver
Release Date: May 22, 2020


PS4 Review - 'Saints Row: The Third - Remastered'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on June 2, 2020 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

The Syndicate, a legendary criminal fraternity with pawns in play all over the globe, has turned its eye on the Saints and demands tribute. Refusing to kneel to the Syndicate, you take the fight to a new city, playing out the most outlandish gameplay scenarios ever seen. Strap it on.

Buy Saints Row: The Third - Remastered

Saints Row is one of the oddest video game franchises. The original game was an attempt to add a slightly different flavor to Grand Theft Auto. Saints Row 2, released when GTA was toning down the excess and going deeper into the drama, was a wacky masterpiece that set itself apart from Rockstar's behemoth. The latest game in the franchise, the wild Saints Row 4, saw you going from average crook to the President of the United States while battling invading aliens inside The Matrix. It's come a long way, so maybe that is why Saints Row: The Third doesn't really stand out. It's the least distinct game in the series, and the Remastered version doesn't do much to improve on that.

Saints Row: The Third picks up not long after the events of the second game. The Saints are the biggest criminal gang in the world, right down to having their own merchandise and awful-tasting energy drinks. Their latest heist has attracted the attention of The Syndicate, a multinational group of ne'er-do-wells who are displeased with the Saints. They take over and reduce the Saints to the bottom rung of the criminal ladder, so they want to prove that they have what it takes to stand atop the criminal overworld.

SR3 is a weird mix of attempted drama and humor, and only some of it lands. The game is scattershot, focusing on seemingly random connections between missions, and the supporting cast isn't given much room to shine. This isn't helped by the fact that Johnny Gat is killed in the opening moments of the game, depriving the player of one of the most reliable characters. (Thankfully, SR4 retconned this to him being kidnapped by aliens.) Some of the humor works, and there are likeable moments, but they're certainly fewer than in the other titles in the series. Characters who are introduced in SR3 even come off better in the sequel. Since the characters and humor are such a big part of Saints Row, that is a pretty big flaw.

As far as gameplay goes, SR3 is pretty familiar. Built upon the ideas from Grand Theft Auto, it's a combination of vehicle theft, third-person shooting, and random side activities that allow you to build up your Respect level, which allows you to unlock upgrades to become more powerful. It's a satisfying gameplay loop (if sometimes repetitive), but it never feels like it hits as well in SR3 as in the other games in the franchise. At times the game feels like it's trying too hard and at other times like it doesn't have enough confidence to go all-out on the wacky.

The core gameplay works fine, but it isn't exceptional. The driving works fine, and the shooting works well enough, but honestly, it's pretty standard. The major difference from GTA is that you can get absurdly powerful in SR. By the end of the game, you're almost invincible to damage, can punch people across the room, have infinite ammo, and other features. It's easy to see the short jump from the end of SR3 to literal superpowers in SR4. This is probably the best-selling point for the game, as it lands at a midpoint between the "average" GTA clone protagonist and the absurd overpower of SR4's version of The Boss. This is not a game that you play for balance or complex shooting, but it's a game you play when you absolutely want to blow up every single thing in your path.

There are a bunch of minigames to play. Some are as simple as escort missions, but there's usually a gimmick. For example, one has you driving a car with a tiger inside, and it'll occasionally cause you to sway. Others have you blowing things up, whether it's enemies or objects. One particularly memorable case is insurance fraud, where your goal is to get beaten up as much as possible for that sweet insurance money. Most of these are fun enough, but they're not anything to write home about. My feelings about these minigames are swayed by SR4, where most of them are significantly more fun with the addition of superpowers — especially insurance fraud.

SR3's biggest problem is that it's sandwiched between two better games. SR2 is arguably the best in the franchise because it mixes humor and drama in an excellent way, and SR4 is everything in SR3 with superpowers. The result is that SR3 commits the worst sin of a Saints Row title: It's boring. There are moments of excitement and humor that ended up being the focus of SR4, but this one feels lacking, especially in comparison to its successor.

It doesn't help that the remaster is fairly bare-bones. The game looks significantly better on the PS4, but it isn't particularly fantastic-looking, and not much else has been done to improve it. The game runs at 30fps, and while you have the option to unlock the fps, the end result is so much frame fluctuation that I had to turn it back on to avoid feeling motion sick. The voice acting is still quite good throughout, and the soundtrack is top-notch.

Saints Row: The Third - Remastered is about the minimum you can expect from a remaster. It looks better, contains all of the DLC, and it does what it needs to do. However, you can't escape the fact that Saints Row 4: Re-Elected, which is already available, hits almost all of the same marks while being a more enjoyable game with almost all of the same features and significantly better humor. If you enjoyed the original Saints Row: The Third, then this is a good way to revisit it, but for newcomers, there are better entries in the series to try.

Score: 7.5/10

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