Originally Published: October 19, 2011, on EGMNOW.com

We love Rim Jobs

There are a lot of games out there that take themselves too seriously. Everything is about saving the world from this or protecting people from that. Rarely do you get a game like Saints Row: The Third that just doesn’t give a crap about any of that and whose main purpose is to just give the gamer as many tools as possible to blow stuff up. It was for this reason that I was drooling like Homer Simpson over barbecue for the chance to go hands on with this game and it looks to deliver in ways I couldn’t even begin to imagine.

The story starts with the Saints, now international celebrities after having driven out the Ultor Corporation in Saints 2 from Stilwater. Deciding to rob a bank, they do it how any other superstar celebrity criminals would do it: dressed as their most recognizable face, Johnny Gat. Thing is though that they aren’t the only gang in town anymore and a collection of several other gangs calling themselves the Syndicate have moved in and kicked the Saints out. After some spectacular action sequences that would put Nathan Drake or any of those other “heroes” out there to shame, you find yourself, the leader of the Saints, in Steelport, ready to get some revenge on those who knocked you down a few pegs and to set up shop in this glorious new little town on the river.

From the second you press start, Saints Row: The Third is the most over-the-top third-person action game you will ever play. Volition and THQ have pulled out all the stops, some in questionable taste for those more politically correct gamers I’m sure, to make this the craziest game you’re ever going to play as long as you don’t mind the sometimes infantile humor. Which I don’t. From riding shotgun in a helicopter and raining rocket launcher death down onto your enemies (I love rocket launchers) to running naked through a mansion, drugged and barely cohesive, but still aware enough to break enemy necks as you work way through the…impressed…crowd (you’re packing in more ways than one!), every mission is challenged by the last to up the insanity.

But even beyond the main story missions, there is so much stuff to do on the side in Steelport that you’ll be able to have every carnal gaming desire satiated and then some. From performing various wrestling maneuvers when mugging unsuspecting citizens to having to drive a tiger, (yes, an actual tiger) around to keep it happy and from mauling your face off, every aspect of the game is designed to keep you laughing and to drive you to keep playing because you can’t wait to see what new line it will cross next. And it crosses A LOT of lines.

Besides the tongue-in-cheek humor throughout the game though, like the auto body shop “Rim Jobs” where you can not only pimp your ride with spoilers, decals, and the like, but also with kneecapping Ben-Hur like chariot spikes to destroy the tires of enemy vehicles or just mow down the populace, there is also spoofs on other games and media franchises, like the Tron based levels you’ll take part in when going against the hacking Deckers gang. Truly no one and nothing is safe if Saints Row thinks it’ll get a rise (figuratively, maybe literally) out of the user.

I’m not even close to scratching the surface though of all that there is in this game. Beyond the three main gangs you have to face, we also saw for the first time STAG, a government sanctioned military faction looking to destroy all gang activity and with STAG comes some Grade A military hardware like fighter jets and tanks and more rocket launchers to up the destructive ante. But if you really want some interesting vehicles, then pre-ordering the game gets you the Professor Genki pack, which includes the Genki-mobile. Professor Genki is a world famous (in the Saints’ world anyway) Japanese game show host that wears a jumpsuit, cape, and giant cathead. Unsuspecting contestants (which you will be one of later in the game) must work their way through Genki’s treacherous maze full of flame and electrical traps for cash and prizes while also avoiding his machine gun wielding furry dressed henchman. Back to the car though. It handles and looks like an ice cream truck, but it has a cannon on top that sucks in pedestrians and uses them as ammo. So really it’s just your average, run of the mill, man-apult.

Alright, so clearly there is a lot of mission variety and things to do in Saints Row: The Third. I’m having sensory overload just going back over this stuff and I only saw about 40% of the campaign. There is a lot more to this game than hysterical situations and zany characters though. You also have choices. As in other Saints games, you want two things from this world, money and respect. Money lets you buy things from tricking out your various headquarters to upgrading weapons, while respect is where the RPG leveling up elements sneak into this game. Each time you level up, you unlock access to new perks like increasing your cash flow from some of the businesses you’ll “protect” for a fee to being able to dual wield your pistols. The more crazy stuff you do while on a mission or out in the world, the more respect and money you’ll earn and so like everything else in this game, you are encouraged from the get go to just go wild and do whatever you feel like because the more insane it is, the bigger the reward. Have I mentioned my love of rocket launchers by the way?

Keeping in with the small RPG elements, we see a return of the robust customization system for your main character. With the crazier and more insane outfits offering you more respect, you might just be tempted to go gallivanting around Steelport in that S&M leather suit or in those long flowing pimp robes you’ve had your eye on for quite some time. You could also get inspiration from your friends because the game sees a return of co-op as well. Being able to see them dressed in zany outfits might inspire you some, but it can also help you on those tougher missions. Volition stresses the game was designed to be more of a co-op experience because the more people laughing at the same crazy situation only makes it funnier, but trust me in saying it doesn’t penalize you for playing the game alone and is still just as damn funny.

And if your mind wasn’t already melted from everything I’ve already described, we also saw the debut of a new mode to replace the traditional versus multiplayer from the previous Saints Row games. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare to have your mind (and maybe other body parts) blown in Whored Mode. Yes, Saints Row: The Third will feature their take on Horde mode where you will face wave after wave of gangster, pimp, deviant, midget, prostitute and any other insane foe you may face in the game in hopes of getting the highest score possible. I’m pretty sure it has rocket launchers as well. Also, a weapon called the Penetrater that’s also available in the main game. I don’t want to talk about the Penetrater because there are some lines that I can’t cross in this preview article. Let’s just say it sums up everything Saints Row is all about in one simple melee weapon.

Honestly, there is so much in this game that I saw in the hands-on I got that I could probably keep writing for a long time, but I don’t want to spoil all the surprises. A big thing to keep in mind is if you haven’t played the previous games, you don’t have to worry because the opening cinema explains everything you need to know and then you can just jump in and have fun. If you don’t feel like taking a game too seriously, but still having a ton of fun when playing, then you’re going to definitely want to check out Saints Row: The Third. It has readily available rocket launchers.

So what do you think? Are you a fan of the previous Saints games? Are you going to pre-order for the Professor Genki pack? Will you play co-op or solo? What about the new Whored mode? Let us know your thoughts with comments below!