The weak, red-headed younger bastard sibling of the GTA franchise; that grew up to whoop its step brothers ass.
If you're going to write a review about how Saints Row 3 kicks GTA IVs ass, then you have to focus first a lot on GTA IV and where you think GTA went wrong. Some people arguably say, you have to stop comparing these two franchises; 'They're apples and oranges', 'the vibes and the writing are totally different', 'it's really an unfair comparison when ya look at it'; some will tell you. All I can say to that is, they're kinda right, they are totally different.
But in that, the one franchise was hard earned king (peaking at GTA San Andreas) then started sucking when it laxed on the 'fun' and focused on attempting to be grown up rediculously 'serious'. The other franchise SR started off kinda suck and then got a lot better when it decided to focus on fun and attempting to be seriously rediculous.
There's a lot to be said for something that knows what it is and also knows that if you're going to try to be anything else then what you have been before previously; you either do it all out right or don't it at all. The original GTA 2 transition to GTA 3 could not be a better example of this perfectly executed. GTA IV not so much.
GTA IV is a great game, but it just wants so hard to be grittier, meaner, taken more seriously as epic crime tales (otherwise why take out all the side fun distraction stuff that made San Andreas a blast) which is fine or would have been fine if done right. By taking out the all the side quest zany fun things that made San Andreas, Vice City and III feel like a videogame and fun and (this is important) and by NOT replacing that lack of videogame fun with seriously good characters and well executed crime stories/ writing on par with the Robert DeNiro Al Pacino movie Heat or HBOs show The Wire, but leaving in all the fart jokes GTA IV fails completely at that darker, grittier more mature edge it wants to so bad to be. And it always will as long as they keep having characters like Brucie, Yussef, Roman, Clay, etc. etc. (characters who would fit in the Saints Row world just fine) peeing, farting, and skid marking all over the world. I'm just saying, Rockstar if you're not going to add at least Red Dead Redemption quality writing to your now pretend serious and beautful GTA world,, could you please add the FUN and not taking yourselves so seriously attitude, back to it? *sound of screeching car tires and loud bass appear* Whoa something insane looking called Saints Row 3 just pulled up,,
WHOA!!! It's like Rockstar answered all of my prayers but yet made none of the profits from it, interesting! Saints Row is the red headed bastard step child that refuses to do anything but bask in its bastard glory and not take itself too seriously. Saints Row 2 was like San Andreas on steriods! Saints Row 3 is San Andreas on crack, crank, heroin, meth, ectasy, all washed down with steriods whilst snorting it's own Saints Row 2 through a c note straw! And that doesn't make sense. But exactly!! That's Saints Row, an insane un-pretensious beast not bounded by reality.
It knows it's a videogame, it's not trying to be a medium for high social commentary or art. Although if done right it could be, but that's not want it wants to convey. It wants to convey FUN, huge disturbing amounts of disturbing fantasy land fun. And by the gods that is exactly what it does. And it's not just that it does a lot of different things,, it's that it does them all so well that makes it so great. The controls are tight, the customization feels never ending for you, your gang, your cars. The missions are over the top John Woo, Michael Bay cheese fests of violence. Sometimes you might get bored of a certain gimmick or joke,,but thats okay because this isn't a one trick pony, this isn't a huge city filled with empty bunches of nothing to do. It's got other gimmicks and other jokes, the world is made for and assumes its audience has A.D.D. and it rewards you for having it. It overly rewards you and draws attention to you for just driving in the wrong lanes or streaking naked. And look as much Saints Row 3 touts it's own being rediculous over the top **** there's alot its not bragging about that it should which is a damn fine set of mature programming, design and great gaming in general at work here. I like any game that knows what it wants to be, and uncompromisingly does it well.
It's a sandbox game, filled with lots to do. While it's certainly not generic, it's not re-inventing any wheels here. You've seen the ultra violence and gore in Fallout 3, you've already flown in planes and choppers above massive cities in GTA other SR games, you've done had multiplayer shoot' em ups like this, you've collected hidden orbs and items in Crackdown and InFamous, you've already listened to Judas Priest while having a protitute service you in a car you've stolen: at this point there's probably alot you have already done in open sandbox games. BUT have you ever done them all in a single game, half as polished or as tightly controlled as what SR3 is offering? ,,,, okay,, well ask yourself this, have you ever done them all while running around the game completely butt naked, driving a truck that shoots out people as human cannonballs? Well HA there you go! Saints Row 3, It's not reinventing the wheel, it's just making it really fun to play with again, reminding you why you liked games like this to begin with.