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.