Saints Row The Third - Preview

Gang war

Life is good as a member of the Third Street Saints, a street gang whose status has been elevated to that of a household brand. Having defeated the rival gangs of fictional US city Stilwater at the end of Saints Row 2, the Saints are now national superstars with their own energy drink, clothing range and a legion of fans.

But the good life is threatened when the Saints are offered the chance to join the Syndicate, a legendary global criminal fraternity, in exchange for the majority of the gang's profits. Your refusal sparks an explosive war in the game's new setting of Steelport, a once-proud metropolis reduced to a struggling city of sin under Syndicate control.

Childs play

While the original Saints Row was viewed by some as a shameless Grand Theft Auto clone, the follow-up embraced a childish imagination and offered a host of entertaining ideas at a time when Grand Theft Auto began prioritising gritty atmosphere. Saints Row the Third takes things to a whole new level.

If you've ever played a Saints Row game, you'll be unsurprised to hear that the latest entry in the open-world action series is wilfully, gleefully over the top. In a world full of grimly realistic shooters and tortured anti-heroes, it has the potential to be one of the most refreshing games in years.

Serving up a giant list of outlandish gameplay scenarios, you'll take a tank skydiving, call in a satellite-targeted airstrike on a Mexican wrestling gang, pilot a jet through an urban centre and defend yourself against a highly-trained military force using only a sex toy. And that's not the half of it.

Customisable madhouse

Offering empowerment and escapism in abundance, Saints Row the Third gives you all the tools required to create total havoc in an unscripted world. You'll use achingly desirable military hardware and experimental technology, including a gun that allows you to assume control of any vehicle you point it at, a giant false hand that blows up anybody punched with it, and a vehicle with a cannon that sucks in unsuspecting passers by and fires them out at your will. Weapons also have a new four-stage upgrade system, which turns even the plainest of firearms into something spectacular.

You can dictate the look of your character to a ridiculous extent too. Visiting a plastic surgeon allows you to change everything from your sex to your age in a great character creator system, while tattoo shops offer a hundred different designs and clothe stores enable you to dress up like a cowboy, soldier, space marine, lingerie model, or any combination of the above.

Control the city

Amongst all the madness it's easy to lose sight of the story, which sees you rebuilding the Saints' reputation in their new city and defeating the Syndicate in a series of big, challenging and bizarre missions. Block by block, you'll begin taking control of Steelport by destroying local gang strongholds, making contacts and buying shops and apartments.

It might not be to everyone's taste and it's certainly not a game for children, but Saints Row the Third looks set to pack enough hilarity into its running time to make it a winner with big kids everywhere. Oh, and it's all playable co-operatively online too, making for double the crazy fun.

Preview by: Tom 'Third-Street Massive' Ivan
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3
Release date: 18/11/2011

SKU: Previews-155751
Release Date: 02/11/2011