Saints Row: The Third
As they have defeated all their rivals in Stilwater in the end of Saints Row 2, the Saints turned their street gang into a media empire soon after merging with the Ultor Corporation. They have since became an icon and own their own energy drink, a large fan base, and a movie deal in motion. However, when a fellow actor, Josh Birk, attempts to “research” his role for the Saints movie, they rob a bank and get caught. An international crime organization, called the Syndicate, bribes the police and gets the Saints’ leader, Gat, and Shaundi released. They are then taken to the Syndicate’s leader, Phillipe Loren, to try to negotiate business. While in flight, Loren tells them that they will be allowed to live if they give up two thirds of the Saints’ revenue made in Stilwater. The gang leader rejects his offer, which leads to a gunfight. The leader and Shaundi escapes from the jet, while Gat attempts to hold back the enemies, and is presumably killed.
To get revenge on the Syndicate, the Saints relocate to Steelport, a city that was once known for its flourishing factories, but has been recently suffering from economic failure. The Syndicate has already taken over Steelport, and controls it through three gangs: The Morningstar, led by he DeWynter sisters and Loren personally, the Luchadores, controlled by the Mexican wrestler Killbane, and The Deckers, led by Matt Miller, and his group of computer geniuses who deal with money laundering and oversee the Syndicate’s security. The Saints now need to take control over the city, fighting other gangs and trying to reclaim their former glory.
Saints Row: The Third is the third main game in the sandbox shooting and driving series. Like its predecessors, it focuses on third-person action, free-roaming driving, and urban warfare. The protagonist, leader of the Third Street Saints, explores the city of Steelport, performs missions that advance the game’s story, as well as side missions. These include Activities, initiated at random points in the game world; Strongholds, rival gang bases that can be taken over to control sections of Steelport; and Flashpoints, actual gang warfare.
Completing missions earns the player money, weapons, cars, and gang reputation. Past Saints Row games used reputation to unlock new missions; The Third uses reputation as experience points, which can be used to upgrade weapons and cars with various features, such as adding scopes or extra barrels to guns. Money can be used to customize the appearance, outfits, and headquarters of the gang. There is also an Initiation Station system which lets the player upload their characters created to an online community, and even download other players’ characters to play with their save game. Lastly, money can also be used to buy shops and other properties in Steelport, which will, over time, become a stream of money for the gang. Some of the missions can be approached in different ways, and a few require the player to make choices.
Novelty weapons are introduced along with the traditional arsenal of handguns and automatic weapons. Players can call down airstrikes on camps of enemies, or use a remote control electric bug to control vehicles from a range. Unlike the first two games, there are no health recovery items; instead, health regenerates at a faster rate out of combat. Just about every action in the game can be sped up by holding down a special button; for example, when stealing a car, it will cause the player character to missile-kick the driver out of the seat.
The game also has a co-op mode; similarly to Saints Row 2, the second player participates in all missions and activities, receiving credit for their completion. Some activities have different rules when having two players. Co-op features require a single-use online pass. There is no competitive multiplayer mode in the game.
Saints Row IV
After the happenings of Saints Row: The Third, the Saints gang extended their reach and the protagonist became the President of the USA. Unfortunately during a press conference, disaster happens: aliens attack the White House, kidnap the Saints and trap each in their personal, indefinitely looping nightmare. Fortunately Kinzie, the group’s hacker, rescues the protagonist and together they flee into a space ship with the goal to rescue the rest of the gang. The majority of the game it spent in an open world simulation of Steelport, the location of Saints Row: The Third. There is an extensive character creation which allows to tune every aspect of the protagonist’s look and the choice between seven voices (three male, three female and Nolan North).
Saints Row IV continues the course of its predecessor into over-the-top action and humour. The twist of this game is that the protagonist receives super powers within the simulation, e.g. super jump, fast running or telekinesis, which help with moving fast and killing aliens which replace cops as law enforcement. Those powers make driving practically unnecessary, but the player may still hijack and use cars. Third-person fights with melee and ranged weapons still play an important role.
Like all Saints Row games, it features various side activities which can be activated in certain points of the game world. Then the game switches to the mini game and after completing it, the player is rated with either bronze, silver or gold medal depending on the performance. While some of the games are known from the predecessors, e.g. fraud or tank mayhem, the majority are new and are designed around the superpowers. For example, there is a race in which the player needs to solve a running course as fast as possible and another one requires to jump precisely on platforms. While those mini games were an essential part of the main mission line in previous Saints Row games, this time they are only required for the team members’ side quests. The main storyline features varied missions which mostly involve moving to a point and killing everything in sight, but also various sequences parodying other genres like side-scrolling brawlers or top-down shooters. Additionally there are other side activities like collecting audio diaries or destroying the aliens’ infrastructure points.
While the members of the team need to be saved from their nightmares in the simulation, they are physically trapped on the main alien ship. To save them, the protagonist visits the ship a few times during the main storyline without having superpowers available – but sometimes a mech instead. Otherwise, the real world only plays a minor role: the simulation can be exited to walk around the ship and talk to the team members. Besides starting missions, the only purpose is to parody the Mass Effect series and its romances.
Progressing in the game gives rewards: experience points (used to unlock personal upgrades like better damage resistance or more damage with certain weapons) and cache (used to purchase weapons, ammo and weapon upgrades) is rewarded for all actions in the game, but of course finishing missions and activities is most profitable. New super powers are automatically unlocked during the storyline, but they also have upgrades like sliding through the air after a super jump or more damage for blasts. These upgrades require another currency: small glowing balls which are all over the city and need to be collected. Some powers also can be modified in effect, e.g. the blast can be set to fire or ice. The mobile phone is used to requesting unlocked cars and unlocked homie helpers (the main crew receives super powers when finishing their side quests), looking on the map or playing licensed music in the background.
Multiplayer is either playing co-op during the campaign (the second player basically replaces the homie) or starting one of two competitive activities.