E3 2011: Saints Row: The Third First Look Preview

The latest sandbox action game from Volition is set to become bigger, sillier, and even more ridiculous than its predecessors.

Engaging the sandbox is the term Volition uses to describe the free-form adventures players can get up to in the developer's Saints Row series of open-world action games. It's a strangely innocuous phrase, isn't it? We're talking about a series where you can throw pedestrians into traffic, skydive from a helicopter while completely naked, and hijack a sewage truck to spray down any hapless soul unfortunate enough to get caught in your path. We wouldn't say that the sandboxes in previous Saints Row games were engaged so much as they were tormented. And with the upcoming third entry in the Saints Row franchise, the potential for torment is about to get much larger.

The goal for Saints Row: The Third, according to Volition, is to create "the most ridiculous, over-the-top guilty pleasure ever found in video games." The demo we were shown would seem to indicate that the goal is well within the realm of possibility. The basic backstory is this: The titular Saints, the gang you've helped build up in the first two games, is now so popular and well known that Hollywood is making a movie about them. Crazier still, their image is all over town, thanks to a robust product licensing deal. Not bad for a gang of petty criminals. It's an absurd setup that dares to explain why, in an early story mission, your crew sets off on a high-stakes bank robbery along with a Hollywood method actor training for his role in the upcoming movie about the Saints; why this idiot botches the whole job; and why this subsequently leads to you falling out with the Saints when you're inevitably busted by a swarm of cops.

The takeaway from all of this is that you're forced to relocate to a new city, Steelport, and go on a quest to build yourself back up as a…whatever it is you call the particular species of criminal-meets-circus-act that Saints Row games tend to breed. Steelport, like the city of Stillwater from the first two games, is a metropolis full of civilians just waiting to be antagonized. Well, civilians and rival gangs. One such group we got to see in this demo was called the Lucha Gang, a band of violent thugs drawn together by a common interest in vibrant wrestling attire. They belong to a group of gangs called the Syndicate, a criminal conglomerate that essentially owns and operates all of Steel Town. So in a way, you don't need to worry about terrorizing the city. Not that you would anyhow.

Said antagonizing can be done in numerous ways. You can, among other things, bat people around with a giant purple sex toy; pummel them with giant toy fists; or simply throw them to the ground and taunt them by lying down next to them like you're posing for a magazine cover. Speaking of that latter option, there seems to be all sorts of new animations for interacting with pedestrians. In Saints Row 2, you could literally pick up and throw people into the water, cars, or just a brick wall. It seems that Saints Row: The Third now wants you to go beyond simply hurting people and revel in your chaos, giving you a variety of new animations for taunting and gloating when you're especially proud of your work.

And then there are the vehicles. Like any open-world action game worth its salt, Saints Row: The Third offers a variety of cars, boats, and aircraft for getting around the city. If sheer efficiency is your thing, you can hop into a VTOL (vertical takeoff or landing) jet fighter to tear across the skies and get to where you need to go right away and maybe fire off a few missiles while you're doing so. If you'd rather stick to the ground, perhaps you'll be interested in a new vehicle called the manapult. This truck has a giant vacuum for sucking up pedestrians and a cannon for launching them out of it. Get it? Manapult.

Yes, Saints Row: The Third is an exceedingly silly game. At this point, Volition seems to be well aware that it can't realistically contend with Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto series in terms of best-in-breed sandbox action games. So Volition's tactic is to move in another direction, where players are encouraged to act as ridiculously as possible and given plenty of tools to do so. From an expanded character editor that now features a "sexual magnetism" slider to a story bold enough to have you believe that a criminal gang can license itself out into a line of clothing, action figures, or movies, Saints Row: The Third is a game that does a lot of crazy things, but taking itself seriously is certainly not one of them. We're looking forward to seeing a few more ways you can engage this sandbox before the game arrives on November 15.

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Discussion

50 comments
xQuelx
xQuelx

I dont Care what no ones says, this games is a must get, full of action and shooting. @MGSRY__Your right games should focus on single player rather then online. What about the people who dont have internet to get online, Luckly I do, But if the Single Player Line is great then they can go ahead and add a great multiplayer with it. But All in all thats what Saints Row Single player and Co-op has brung to the table, ACTION and a great storyline.

obenns
obenns

A game for 10 year olds. (look at the youtube vids of it)

drivinggod2005
drivinggod2005

If they can sort out the bugs and glitches found in the first 2 games, then this is definitely one of my most anticipated games of the year!!!!

Whitebloodsun
Whitebloodsun

@MGSRY i agree with u...look at homefront....its too short...

dewsbd01
dewsbd01

Sexual magnetism? . . . Cool.

MGSRY
MGSRY

This is real gaming Im glad that the there is no online in a way, I know its going to upset alot of people but gaming needs to focus more on the single player rather then online play.

smtgfx
smtgfx

Looks Interesting but what does the game look like? Screenshots and stuff.

brok
brok

This right here is the future of sandbox. Get used to it, Rockstar.

Biigboss
Biigboss

@pedroren Uhh, you mean your typical anime/jrpg character???

pedroren
pedroren

Just allow me to put female clothes to male characters and I'll have a Final Fantasy character :)

Applonee
Applonee

niceeeee .... we will make new gangs :)

Okplay
Okplay

Take interest on me :)

deathcon4
deathcon4

Wow Gamespot seriously, I've never heard such a biased story its almost as if Shaun McInnis or maybe Gamespot itself doesn't like Saints Row much antagonizining it any chance you can get. I don't think theres one positive comment here. Pass me the story and resources, I'll do a 5x better job at reviewing whether its a good game or not cause this is obviously biased.

TongLong
TongLong

I can't wait! SR2 was such a refreshing change, a game that never takes itself seriously and focuses solely one the enjoyment of the player. This is a pre-order for sure!

darthy101
darthy101

PC???!?!!?!?!? :D YAYYYYYYY now gotta wait for assassins creed, gta5, hmmm and others hehehe

SsangyongKYRON
SsangyongKYRON

Definitely waiting to buy this. I hope it competes GTA.

Ya_Need
Ya_Need

that would be awesome if u could play as a naked lady the whole game

bumbum1991
bumbum1991

Saintrows side missions is so funny and of course, hard like getting yourself hurted to get more insurance money. Can't wait for the third.

tmaclabi
tmaclabi

This game is gonna be great :D

donoghu
donoghu

I will wait futur news and video before making the choice, but if it keep up to what they have told and what Saints Row 2 was at, but upgraded, I will buy this for me and my gf, play this with my gf and *censored* with my gf thinking about this! (-: And... as a closing personnal note on this preview : GIANT D!LDO BAT IN DA FACE!

Pete5506
Pete5506

The last saints row game was just pure fun, will be looking forward to this

Hessieng
Hessieng

@OB-47 Couldn't agree more !!

RedWave247
RedWave247

@ErikElfEar Sounds like my prom night.

ErikElfEar
ErikElfEar

I just hope I can still smoke doobies to pointlessly blur my vision while I run around in a hotdog suit jumping in front of fast moving traffic.

OB-47
OB-47

I know I'll get so many thumbs down for this, but SR2 was a pitful excuse for a game. Broken, buggy, unfunny. I did have fun with it but it was lame. Hopefully the graphics will look nice in this one and the FPS won't drop

Devbinks
Devbinks

Of course GTA lovers will play this game! Why limit yourself to just one or the other? I fully support both franchises. Granted, I am enjoying Saints Row more now that GTA seems to have taken a more "realistic", less over-the-top, no fun cheats route. For me all that stuff adds replay value. Thank god Saints Row is sticking to what made it such a fun series >:D

tatu2004
tatu2004

buying this on day one getting both version 360 and PS3

OfficialBed
OfficialBed

I loved the first 2 games so I will definitely be picking this one up as well.

face_ripper
face_ripper

"Volition seems to be well aware that it can't realistically contend with Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto" Way to go! I don't see how this will make GTA lovers play this game.

antoniobandino
antoniobandino

I've always been a hardcore GTA fan and as such have never even touched Saints Row but now that they've taken up this separate identity and look to be offering gameplay mechanics that I'd never find in a GTA game ever, I think this is creeping up my most-wanted list.

chaldoboy14
chaldoboy14

First day purchase. Saint's Row is a blast. Love how wild and fast paced it is. Never got bored for a second playing SR 1 and 2.

Taegre
Taegre

"...bold enough to have you believe that a criminal gang can license itself out into a line of clothing, action figures, or movies..." That's basically what Hell's Angels did in real life.

GodMan7
GodMan7

Damn Saints Row with top-notch quality and an open end world AWESOME!!! I hope they release the character creator as a demo

ronnet
ronnet

I hope that they've made the 'feel' of the new city as well as the game itself better. After GTA4 I couldn't enjoy freeroaming and exploration in SR2 because our character didn't feel connected to the world itself. He was just floating around in it, and especially the physics was something I couldn't get used to. There was a lot of stuff to mess around with in SR2, and no doubt SR3th will have even more but if the gameplay itself doesn't feel right then it just doesn't work. I found myself prefering GTA4 for my freeroaming even though SR2 had a lot more to show for itself. But the way NPCs reacted to you in GTA4 was just miles ahead of SR2. If they can improve that, then SR3th could just become the best openworld crime game.

gundaicut
gundaicut

dam we can call in air strikes this is gonna be wicked

fkbwii
fkbwii

Now this is gonna be sweeeeet!

QOSMSTR
QOSMSTR

I didn't think it could be more hilarious.

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

the release date is four days before my b-day; wow talking about a sweet bday gift heading my way woot!!!

Majkic666
Majkic666

lol the first was great the second was even GREATER and Third will probably be EPIC Saints Row > GTA

-HaloHitman-
-HaloHitman-

The first game was great, the second game just didn't have the magic like the first, I hope this one's as good as the first.

ziproy
ziproy

Why would you want to compete against GTA, they're so boring and cliched