When Saints Row The Third released nine years ago, I was one of the people who played it religiously. I had the strategy guide, I’d watched the “Power” trailer a million times over and I spent all of that Christmas nut-punching civilians and dive-bombing into cars. Ahh, the good old days.
All of this is to say that I have a pretty strong relationship with Saints Row The Third, as well as all of the games in the series so far. However, in the nine years since its release, I can’t really say I’ve thought about the game all that much. With Saints Row 2 being pretty grounded and Saints Row IV going completely crazy, it left Saints Row The Third as the weird middle child of the series. With that in mind, was Saints Row The Third worth bringing back into the limelight?
If you’ve never played the Saints Row games before, this might be the best place to start as the third title in the series features the Third Street Saints in a brand new city and against brand new enemies. You play as the completely customizable boss of the Saints and have to slowly take over the city by completing missions and a plethora of side-content. The story isn’t amazing by any means, but the fact that it’s your own custom character gives it a special kind of charm. It’s still a mystery why they chose to kill Gat off in the first twenty minutes though.
The main addition to this remaster is the graphical changes. New lighting and updated character models mean that Saints Row The Third generally looks better, but the implementation is nowhere near perfect. For starters, some of the character models look a little off thanks to these upgrades. Both Gat and Pierce look a bit too realistic for the series’ style. The loading screen renders look absolutely incredible, but the in-game models, unfortunately, can’t compare.
The lighting can make Steelport look fantastic at times, but again it’s a mixed bag. The weather and time can make a big difference to how good this remaster is. When the sun shines in the right way it can look really good, but certain things like fog and rain can make the world look a little weird. Generally the game does look better than it originally did, but it’s a shame that it’s not quite as effective as it wants to be.
It’s also worth mentioning that Saints Row The Third is still littered with bugs and glitches. Animations will stutter, missions will refuse to finish and there’s always a weird time gap between completing an objective and the game deciding that it’s time to move the mission forward. Don’t expect a stable experience here. It’s also a big disappointment that this remaster is 30fps. Frame rate certainly doesn’t make a game but 60fps would have made this package a much better upgrade and less of the mixed bag that it is here.
The new graphics are the only new thing to come to Saints Row The Third Remastered, so it’s a shame that it doesn’t land as well as it wants to. Besides that the game basically acts like a GOTY bundle with all of the game’s DLC, which feels like a big ask for $40 nine years later, even if it does mean the game is playable on PS4 now. That means you’re relying on the quality of the gameplay to make the price worthwhile.
Saints Row The Third Remastered Review – Still Fun With Age
Thankfully, Saints Row The Third is still great fun in 2020, although it does show its age in some key areas.
Gameplay is generally very similar to other open-world games, but Saints Row generally feels a lot faster in everything it does. Third-person shooting is at the forefront of the experience here and although it’s nothing groundbreaking, it does feel pretty good to play thanks to the fun weapons. You slowly upgrade your character and by the end you feel like a powerhouse of a gangster. If you’re looking for a difficult experience here then you’re probably looking in the wrong place.
Revisiting Saints Row The Third in 2020 does show some of the cool gameplay ideas that I’d completely forgotten about, such as the taunts you can assign to your character and the ability to own property. By far the coolest one is the sprint modifier, which changes your actions depending on whether or not you’re sprinting. Nut-punches turn into wrestling moves, jumping turns into a dodge and car-jacking turns into a windshield busting takeover. Although driving is nothing special, the ability to leap into cars makes it about 10x as fun. Saints Row IV technically still had this, but who was paying attention to that when you had super-powers?
Customization is the second main facet of the Saints Row series, and it’s still easily one of the best aspects of the game. Creating your character can be as in-depth as you want it to be, and the range of costumes is still really cool to see. It’s technically a downgrade from Saints Row 2, but it’s still one of the best for open-world games. Although Volition could have easily made the character a faceless drone, the fact that the player still actually has a personality is a big part of the game’s charm. As a fellow Brit, I wanted to rock the famous cockney voice, but I seem to remember it being a lot funnier and more well done back when the game launched. The woes of nostalgia weathered by time.
Thankfully this all plays into another big aspect of the Saints Row identity: humor. If you know anything about the series, you probably know that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I was worried that Saints Row The Third’s humor would age poorly, but that’s not entirely the case. There are some genuinely funny moments and loveable characters, which made me wish there was more from the franchise in recent years, but I’ll be honest and admit that it was a lot funnier nine years ago. Zimos the auto-tuned pimp felt unfunny in 2011, let alone in 2020.
One thing I’ve always wanted to put into words is how every Saints Row title has amazing in-game music selection. 107.77 The Mix is the best in-game radio ever and I won’t hear otherwise, thank you.
Even being aware of Saints Row The Third’s issues and having played the game more than enough in the past, I still found myself wanting to keep playing it and really enjoying myself when I did. If you’ve not played Saints Row before I can’t see this one leaving a better impression than the fourth game, but if you’re familiar with the franchise this is still a good, if a messy, time.
Saints Row The Third Remastered review code provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.