E3 2011's Most Anticipated: Saints Row the Third
24th May 2011 | 15:52
The games on show at E3 2011 are some of the best in living memory. So you really owe it to yourself to vote in CVG's inaugural E3 2011 Awards... in the Most Anticipated Title category.
Shortly before the show, we'll work out which of these 60 special E3 game previews have enjoyed the most page views, Facebook 'Likes', ReTweets and poll votes (see below) and crown our first victor. Shower your favourites with online love!
Game: Saints Row 3
Likelihood of E3 2011 showing: Certain
Saints Row The Third has an 'Awesome' button that, literally, makes everything you do totally and utterly awesome. Hold it down while performing an action and you'll perform something so brilliant you'll laugh in delight.
Case in point: jacking a car. Steal a vehicle in the normal way and you'll pull a gun on the driver or bash their head against the wheel before tossing them out. Entertaining - especially when the camera zooms in for the 'lulz' - but nothing we haven't seen before. But try thieving the ride with the Awesome button held down and you'll missile dropkick through the side window, kick the current driver out through the passenger door and settle down in the seat ready to drive off in one super-slick motion. See. AWESOME.
Saints Row's awesome new vibe takes place in an awesome new city, run by a less-than-awesome 'syndicate' of gangs just crying to be knocked off their perches. How and why you get there is pretty special, but so too is the city itself.
It's called Steelport, and it's a denser, more exciting game environment than Stilwater ever was. Huge skyscrapers representing the various factions in the game dominate its skyline. As you take the gangs down one by one you'll acquire their assets and erect Saints-flavoured skyscrapers in the place of the old ones.
You might start off looking like a homeless Power Ranger, but come SR3's end you'll have painted the town purple. Literally. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. The time for end-of-game chatter is later, and in the opening hours in Steelport you're without money, without friends and without hope.
Calling your old crib lets you rally the troops and ship gang members over from Stilwater, but even when the crew's back together the odds are seriously stacked against you. The only way to pick apart Steelport's established ruling party is to cause some serious havoc and, boy, has Volition given you the tools to do just that...
First and foremost are the weapons.There's a Dildo Bat, a Call of Duty-style Predator Drone and there are even airstrikes. Best of all is the Remote Control Gun - something sure to be a fan-favourite weapon. It only fires a small, seemingly insignificant dart, but
the moment it latches onto a vehicle it hands you full control of whatever it hits.
Fire it on a cop car and you can steer the rozzers straight into the sea. Monkey with a Syndicate vehicle and you can charge into the cops - sparking off small wars between your two major enemies. Or, in true Saints Row fashion, you can simply hijack an old biddy's ride and thrash about the city as she soils her grubby granny pants.
Customisation plays a bigger part now than ever. Character tomfoolery has reached silly new heights and weapons can be blinged up in a similar fashion as well. The shotgun's a perfect example. On its own it's just a regular shotty, the likes of which you've used in hundreds of games, but spend some dough and you can morph it into an impressive triple-barrelled 'Gravedigger'.
Obviously the last thing you want to do when you spend your day's earnings on a new shooter is kiss it goodbye when you respawn or if you try out a different gun. Luckily, modified weapons are persistently stored in the same way as your souped-up rides are in your garages, meaning your $1,000,000 rocket launcher isn't a one-time-only explosion of cash.
Every weapon comes with a unique melée attack too. And by 'unique', we mean a novel take on the classic 'thump to the balls'. There's no clocking people around the head (unless you want to ditch the guns altogether and enjoy some QTE-powered fisticuffs), and if you ever resort to close-quarters jabs while holding a gun the outcome will always, without fail, mean that one way or another your enemy's getting whacked right in the hazels.
One nut-cracker is fine, but a whole army of them is miles better. Online co-op's back in a big way and now it's possible to take more control of your gang than ever before. Cribs have spheres of influences associated with them - the more money you pour into your pad, the wider and stronger its sphere grows.
Likewise, buying up Steelport's businesses will generate bigger incomes and equip your followers with smarter gear. It means Saints members in and around your place will go from carrying handguns to AK47s and beyond, and if any Syndicate gangs are foolish enough to give you any stick they'll have a much tougher time escaping intact.
PORT OF CALL
If you were lucky enough to play through Saints Row 2 then chances are you fell in love with some of the many mini-games. They were a varied bunch, asking you to do everything from break as many bones in your body as possible in one accident to bleed insurance brokers dry, to hijacking sewerage tankers and spraying scat on everyone and everything you saw. And who could forget the streaking and 'throwing celebrity fans into a spinning helicopter rotor' challenges?
Bad news first: not all of them return. But before you get too disheartened, know that the dropped mini-games have been replaced with altogether better ones. There's Professor Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax, for instance, which is what you get if you throw The Running Man and Takeshi's Castle into a blender.
It's you versus room after room full of sociopaths and traps, played out to a background of excitable Japanese commentary and flashy on-screen graphics. Then there's Guardian Angel, which sees you training to take on the Syndicate by bombing round town in a car with a tiger sitting in the back seat. Clip another driver or - worse - have a full-on prang and your feline friend will maul you as punishment (a major contribution to road safety).
And for fans of the now sadly forgotten GTA Mayhem challenges, Tank Mayhem lets you shake out all those mindless blasting urges by dropping you in a tank in the middle of town, and telling you to go mental. While Rockstar's busy on its quest to produce Serious Entertainment Experiences For Serious Gamers, Saints Row is, and always has been, all about having silly, dirty fun.
And in a city where gimp-pulled rickshaws share the streets with flaming ATVs and remote control tanks, the third Saints Row game has all the ingredients to make it the most outrageously exhilarating sandbox experience on the console.
[Words: Xbox World 360]