One of the many reasons open-world games are so enjoyable is that even when you don't feel like progressing the plot of the story, you can still have hours of fun doing just about anything your heart desires. THQ and Volition Games dropped by our offices the other day to let us have some fun toiling around the new city of Steelport in the upcoming Saints Row: The Third. Rather than being forced into playing through the story-based missions, we were given the opportunity to go wild in the city, and although it was fairly familiar stuff, it was still quite satisfying.
From the get-go, players of past games in the franchise will feel right at home because very little has changed in terms of aesthetics and control. Once you grab a controller and set foot in the city of Steelport, it will feel as though you have always been there. Some new additions this time around include more wrestling moves in hand-to-hand combat and additional ways of modifying weapons to give each of them more power. Your arsenal includes being able to call in air strikes that have incredible range and other military-grade capabilities.
Another addition to your move-set is the ability to literally smash your way into a car. When running at full speed toward an automobile, heading towards the windshield or a door, rather than opening it and excavating the driver from the vehicle, you can smash through the glass and take control. Seeing it happen once is quite a treat, but doing it time and time again will put a smile on your face. It may seem odd how I describe it, but once you see it in action, you’ll get the idea.
Of course, you can still take part in a number of different missions if you so choose. In one particular, story-based encounter, your only objective is to get yourself injured enough to scam an insurance company. How do you accomplish that? Simple. You walk in front of traffic and let drivers ram you as hard as possible. The most enjoyable sequences were when we managed to time getting hit by a car, flying in the air, and then getting hit by another as we landed. You don't have all day to get hurt, so you have to move quickly, and getting hit by multiple vehicles is necessary to increase your combo and reach the required monetary goal.
At the same time, other mission types from previous games return. Mayhem, where you cause as much destruction as possible within a given amount of time, is back and is just as enjoyable as before. Again, much of what made previous Saints Row games so enjoyable has returned, and for the most part, it was a blast being in the middle of all this frantic action.
Our time in Steelport was brief. Outside of the one story-based mission we encountered, the objective of the demonstration was to cause as much chaos as possible in the given time. We had some time to fool around with the customization as well. Both car and character customization felt deep and included greater options, such as increasing your breast-cup size or "package," and each was very easy to navigate. There are a lot of cool things to discover, and finding everything should take a while. There is still plenty that Volition is holding back prior to the game's mid-November launch, so expect to see and hear more regarding Saints Row: The Third in the very near future.