‘Saints Row – The Third Remastered’ review: absurdity that promises a good time

A nine-year-old game that still feels as fresh as ever

Saints Row started off as a Grand Theft Auto clone. It took itself seriously, and it suffered because of it, while things started changing in the second entry, it was only really in Saints Row: The Third that things really started to get going. Of course, the pinnacle of absurdity in the series is in Saints Row IV, where you get to have superpowers, but The Third is still a wonderfully unhinged game.

Saints Row: The Third Remastered is the equivalent of a 10-page action/romance/comedy book you find on a website for 50 pence. It’s non-stop carnage in everything it does, and the remaster holds onto this feeling perfectly. It’s still the same tale of the Third Street Saints’ ascent from a street gang with movie deals to being in charge of the US, but it all looks so much better now that it ever has.

Not everything has been tweaked and touched, but it didn’t really need it. The main improvements are all visual, and most of those come in the form of the lighting, which helps to make every vista within Steelport substantially prettier. There’s also the matter of the entirely new gun and vehicle models, all of which help to make the game look a little more modern than it’s nine-year-old self would suggest.

Saints Row The Third Remastered Jet
Credit: Koch Media

Of course, the main worry for many will be whether or not the gameplay will hold up. The gameplay, for those who are new to the series, is like a caricature of Grand Theft Auto: you run around doing crimes, progressing a story and completing missions. As you do so, you unlock new weapons, more money, nicer clothes, vehicle upgrades and a host of other things that become more and more over-the-top as the game goes on.

I say “as the game goes on”, but you unlock a UAV missile drone almost immediately. So, I think it’s probably fair to say that the point of Saints Row: The Third Remastered is still the same as it ever was, and that’s to have fun. While the missions are all fairly enjoyable, you’ll often find yourself taking part in the sidequests and distractions instead.

Take, for example, the mini-game where you try to commit insurance fraud by throwing yourself into traffic. The aim here is to take as much damage as possible, and what starts with you simply ragdolling into a car, will be far more profitable if you can hit a truck at the right angle to get launched into the atmosphere before raggedly cartwheeling down a motorway into oncoming traffic.

There are tons of activities like this scattered across the city, and taking part in them and trying to get the best score possible in each is excellent fun. When you consider the fact that you can actually play through the entire game in co-op with a friend as well, then you’ve got an awful lot of value in this package.

Saints Row The Third Remastered Rat ATV
Credit: Koch Media

Speaking of packages, Saints Row: The Third Remastered also includes three expansion missions packs and an additional 30 DLC offerings from the OG version of the game. That means, assuming you only played the game on release, that there may well be content here you’ve never played before, even if you did play it way back in 2011.

There’s just a lot to do, and while some it can get a little tiresome, for the most part, it all holds up surprisingly well. The weapons still feel like a lot of fun, and walking around with any of the more outlandish ones is a laugh. This is especially true of some of the melee weapons like the fabled The Penetrator bat (aka a massive purple dildo), as well as the vast majority of the late game weapons, like the Bling Shotgun, a gold-plated triple-barrelled monster of a weapon.

Then there are the joys of jumping into a car via the window while simultaneously kicking out the driver to commandeer it for yourself. That’s not an experience you can have just anywhere – it’s a Saints Row special, and the game does it damn well. It’s the same as the sprinting takedowns: nothing says flair like sliding between someone’s legs before power-bombing them into the floor.

Saints Row The Third Remastered The Penetrator
Credit: Koch Media

It’s all indicative of the way that Saints Row: The Third Remastered keeps things fresh as you go through its world and story. The pacing constantly changes, and you’ll get throwaway game mechanics and moments as you fight your way through the evil Syndicate that has infested Steelport. There are also zombies after a certain point.

The game basically serves as a hodgepodge of every weird and wonderful mechanic available in gaming at the time, and it still works today. That being said, I loathe quick-time events, and the game still uses a lot of them because they were all the rage a decade ago, but thankfully not a bit of game design that is often seen nowadays.

Saints Row: The Third Remastered is available May 23 on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Our Verdict

Saints Row: The Third Remastered is easily the best way to play Saints Row: The Third. The new visuals help bring the festering city of Steelport to life in glorious fashion, and the gameplay is still incredibly good fun even nine years after the game originally released. When you throw in the plethora of DLC included, the co-op mode, and the sheer joy of the game’s most absurd moments, it’s just a damn good time.

Pros

  • Fun and varied quests
  • Absurd weapons
  • Entertaining story

Cons

  • Quick-time events
  • It’s not Saints Row 4
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