Saints Row: The Third in the test - with giant dildos to power

Author: Patrick Lück
Date: 2011-11-11 17:30:00
The wacky saga of the Saints Row gang is entering its third round. While technology and AI weaken in Saints Row: The Third, the craziest mission design of the last few years gave us an action hit in the test.

Alex and his droogs are sitting in the Korova milk bar and are in the mood for a bit of ultra brutality. So laconic begins the cult novel A Clockwork Orange by the British writer Anthony Burgess about a violent gang leader whose favorite pastimes are violence, rape and Beethoven. This is how the main character of THQ's open-world action game Saints Row: The Third could imagine.

After the first two parts, the Saints Row gang has now reached the height of power and popularity in their hometown of Stilwater. The Planet Saints fashion label is booming, an advertising campaign for their own energy drink is flooding the city and TV, and while a bank robbery is in progress, the Saints (disguised as themselves!) Give autographs and pose for fan photos. Or as one raider commented: “Ultra-postmodern? I love it!".

The presentation: art and kitsch

The legendary director Stanley Kubrick filmed A Clockwork Orange congenially in 1971 with Malcolm MacDowell in the lead role. And Saints Row 3 also begins with a Kubrick quote. In front of a starry sky, as in the classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey, the fanfare »Also sprach Zarathustra« by Richard Strauss can be heard.

Against this background, an introductory text runs across the picture in the best Star Wars manner. Wait a minute: Postmodernism, Kubrick, Star Wars? Phew Quite a lot of meta-level for a silly, wacky action game, and the game hasn't even started. But don't worry, if you don't want to deal with the whole superstructure, you don't need to do it and you will enjoy the title just as much. Because the title draws just as much inspiration as it does from classic cultural assets from over-the-top pubescent humor from the Jackass brand and completely absurd action à la Shoot 'Em Up or Robert Rodriguez's B-Movie-Schnetzelei Machete . So if you thought that the A-Team filming had shot the hell out of it with its "Panzer am Parachute" scene, Saints Row 3 teaches you better: You can do without a parachute. But with a lot more enemies and other tanks falling from the sky.

The missions: it couldn't be more absurd

Kubrick's Clockwork film is characterized by its bizarre art design, which, for example, puts the gang in idiosyncratic white costumes. The even more idiosyncratic costumes of the Saints are marked with the color purple.

We can put together our wardrobe according to our taste. Are we going through the city in space suits, as mascots, gangsta rappers or prostitutes? We can also let ourselves be seen naked, whereby thanks to American prudishness the decisive parts are heavily pixelated. So armed, we run, drive or fly like in the great GTA genre model through a freely explorable city in which we can take on missions on every street corner. The variety and variety is unparalleled.

Let's cause as much destruction as possible in the tank within a time limit or let's protect a target being pursued by enemies with the bazooka from the helicopter. Do we prefer to throw ourselves in front of cars and trucks for the purpose of insurance fraud or do we race across the city center with a tiger in the passenger seat? The anarchy of action knows no bounds. As in similar open-world games like Just Cause 2 or Prototype , we also leave a wild trail of destruction here.

The story: a touch of science fiction

In the novel A Clockwork Orange, the system strikes back at some point against the out-of-control violent criminal Alex and makes him a willless victim in experiments, incapable of any kind of aggression or desire.

Also in Saints Row: The Third the system strikes back. The Saints start an unleashed gang war against the mighty Syndicate as part of the main campaign in the new location of Steelport (a kind of New York). And when their boss, disguised as a Mexican wrestler, destroys the most important city bridge, the state intervenes. At the behest of the Senator von Steelport, the military elite unit STAG takes control and brings all sorts of sci-fi equipment such as laser rifles, radiation tanks and whiz.

The main campaign, which is very well told in the cutscenes, overturns itself from the start with crazy volts and countless surprises, which of course we don't want to reveal here. There is only one thing we can't keep to ourselves: Seventies macho Burt Reynolds shines with a wonderfully self-deprecating appearance!

The quests: the pros and cons

A Clockwork Orange gets to its core through the now reeducated Alex, who from now on becomes the victim of society seeking retribution: the freedom of will of people and the question of whether this also includes the choice for evil.

The Saints have also opted for evil, after all they are not a squeamish criminal organization. But at least they are allowed to determine their own fate and so we have to make far-reaching decisions in some missions. So we free a load of prostitutes from a container ship in a wild and multi-stage rescue operation, only to then decide whether they will work for us from now on or whether we will sell them back for a chunk of ransom.

The freedom of choice leads to two alternative and completely opposite ends. But if you expect a lot of open world feeling outside of the missions, you will be more likely to be disappointed. Mini-games such as bowling or billiards are completely absent, and we cannot even enter the numerous strip clubs that are represented. The freely navigable and flyable game world is therefore more of a collection of missions and less of a sandbox world.

The music: great cinema

In his film adaptation of the Clockwork novel, Kubrick staged the scenes of violence in an extremely stylized way and added a classical music soundtrack. We already know that the action in Saints Row 3 is over-styled, but the soundtrack also fires from all pipes. Kayne West's "Power" booms the right attitude from the speakers, in the car the play hero sings "What I Got" by Sublime with a friend, we come across almost forgotten pearls like "Funky Cold Medina" by Tone Loc, and in the finale we rush Accompanied by Bonnie Tyler's 80s tearful scraps of "Holding out for a Hero" by Steelport.

The supposedly contemplative classic radio station in particular has a tough job. The professional setting of the characters is in no way inferior and ranges from Hulk Hogan to ex-porn star Sasha Gray. As in GTA 4 , the audio track is only available in English. Those who do not speak this language have to fall back on the somewhat imprecisely translated, but still usable subtitles.

The AI: rarely stupid fellows

The Droogs of Alex's gang aren't the brightest minds the world has ever seen, but they are intellectually superior in many ways to the people of Steelport. Because the AI of the same clone opponents is rarely stupid.

Sometimes she turns her back on us, then she misses from two meters. And drivers not only take street lights and passers-by on the hood, but also ram their kind, explode or jump over the cliff. If shootouts or car chases do get hairy, then mainly because of the mass of enemies or particularly powerful opponents who can swallow several magazines or a handful of rockets.

Nevertheless, the game, whose PC operation works flawlessly in contrast to its direct predecessor, is far too easy on two of the three levels of difficulty. This also applies to the co-op mode for two players, in which we play exactly the same campaign - just two. That works flawlessly, unfortunately only one character appears in the cutscenes.

The technology: far behind GTA 4

The technical side is also weakening, as the performance occasionally drops and objects pop up very late. Enemies and passers-by spawn and even disappear right before our eyes. That costs atmosphere. Otherwise, Steelport looks quite passable, even if not particularly attention to detail or contemporary. On the other hand, the collision model of the vehicles and planes is okay, all of which are very easy to navigate, but overly arcade-heavy.

Many of the technical deficiencies can perhaps be explained by the lower budget (compared to GTA), but a patch should urgently be found for others. In the end of the book, Alex realizes that he has to change his life. Not in the film. Fortunately, the film ends for the Saints, because who knows what they'll do in the fourth part.