Hearing Troy Baker shout "get the **** out of here!" as you punch a policeman square in his privates is still pretty funny. In fact, Saints Row The Third in general is still pretty funny -- at least, some of the time. The game's almost nine years old, yet Saints Row The Third Remastered is a welcome reminder of just how refreshingly stupid Volition's sandbox can be.
Broadly speaking, games take themselves quite seriously. Saints Row The Third does not. It actively encourages you to be as dumb as possible, clotheslining random pedestrians just so that you can hear your custom character say something like "that's gonna leave a mark". If you're able to embrace the game's absurdity, it still offers up some grin-inducing fun here in 2020.
For the uninitiated, Saints Row The Third follows the story of a criminal gang known as the 3rd Street Saints. At this point in the series, their exploits have catapulted them to stardom -- they're now treated like Hollywood celebrities even when they're robbing banks, stealing cars, and performing impromptu wrestling moves on the elderly. They've even got their own brand of energy drink.
Naturally, all of this comes crashing down within the first 20 minutes of the game. Quite literally, as the Saints are forced to escape a failing aircraft after they're captured by a rival gang. The opening mission certainly sets the tone for the rest of the experience: it's full of over-the-top action and enough one-liners to make Nathan Drake blush.
It's soon followed by what is arguably the title's most memorable excursion, as the Saints' boss -- that's you -- parachutes into a penthouse and proceeds to have a huge shootout with the aforementioned rival gang, all while Kanye West's 'Power' booms in the background. Sure, the shooting feels a bit ropy and there's no cover system so you're just kind of awkwardly running around trying to avoid bullets, but it's undeniably bombastic and fun.
Unfortunately, the penthouse mission is a high note that Saints Row The Third struggles to hit a second time. The rest of the game feels flat by comparison, and, at least by today's standards, incredibly basic. The problem is structure: main missions are sandwiched in between busy work -- mostly daft side activities that stop being entertaining after you've completed them a couple of times. Don't get us wrong, the insurance minigame in which you purposefully hurl yourself in the way of oncoming traffic is a classic, but it's certainly not enough to carry the rest of the package in 2020.
Now look, we don't want to be overly critical of Saints Row The Third. There are still some highlights hidden amongst the mediocrity -- like that mission where you invade a BDSM nightclub. The bottom line is that it's still capable of making you smirk like an idiot if you're willing to switch your brain off for an hour or two. Anyone who's driven a nitro-boosted golf cart the wrong way down a busy road while blasting Talk Talk's 'It's My Life' will know exactly what we're on about.
It's just a shame that a lot of the title doesn't hold up especially well all these years later, and sadly, the same can be said of the visuals. The remaster does get a number of things right: there are new character, car, and weapon models, while the overhauled weather and lighting effects can look great -- but it can't mask the dreary last-gen greys and browns of the city. It just isn't a particularly attractive game, and the not-quite-comicbook art direction is very much a product of its time.
The controls are wonky and the mission design is straight outta last-gen, but there's still dumb fun to be had with Saints Row The Third Remastered. Even all these years later, it's a refreshingly stupid sandbox title that offers up some memorable moments -- it's just a shame that they're buried beneath tedious activities and gameplay that feels incredibly basic by today's standards.