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Is there such a thing as an open world game that is too open world? If so, then may I present to you exhibit A.

Josh Bycer, Blogger

January 8, 2012

2 Min Read

The Saints Row series has had an interesting timeline, at first it was made to compete directly with GTA by delivering open world gameplay set in a satirical world.

As Rockstar moved more towards a loose realism with greater storytelling, Saints Row went in the completely opposite direction. Now with the third game in the series, Saints Row The Third is more in line with Just Cause 2 and in one of the strangest complaints yet, for a game that goes off the deep end, it doesn't go far enough.

The story definitely takes the cake as one of the most off the wall experiences of 2011. From leaping off of flying fortresses, a tron style cyber battle to insane stuff that you need to see for yourself. For those that felt that the GTA series have become too focused on plot, Saints Row will be a reprieve.

The actual gameplay hasn't changed all that much from Saints Row 2; you have a city to explore and three rival gangs to take out mission by mission. Side missions and area takeovers litter the map and as you take over the city, you can now use your phone to transfer the money to your account. As you complete missions and go on shooting sprees, you'll level up which will unlock possible upgrades from more health to even infinite ammo.

And that's actually all there is to the game and where my problems are. While the missions are just insanely over the top the actual world is very bare bones and feels like a step back from Saints Row 2. In the last game, there were more side quests available with actual rewards for completing them such as upgrades to your character. With leveling up now the only way to upgrade your character, there are fewer reasons to complete the side quests.

As mentioned at the start, Saints Row The Third takes it’s over the top cues from Just Cause 2 and suffers with very little growth through the game. Very early in Saints, players will already be flying helicopters and using RPGs and not until the final few missions will you see any major upgrades. The best way to explain this issue is with someone eating nothing but cake, sure it's sweet but you can't just eat cake everyday and you'll get tired of it.

Just Cause 2 suffers from this issue as well, but it does work a little better with the various ways of getting around and side quests.

Ultimately, Saints Row The Third feels like eating at a buffet, there's a lot of food, but it's really just empty calories. The developers have already promised new mission DLC in the works and I hope that they can inject some much needed variety into the game.

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About the Author(s)

Josh Bycer


For more than seven years, I have been researching and contributing to the field of game design. These contributions range from QA for professional game productions to writing articles for sites like Gamasutra and Quarter To Three. 

With my site Game-Wisdom our goal is to create a centralized source of critical thinking about the game industry for everyone from enthusiasts, game makers and casual fans; to examine the art and science of games. I also do video plays and analysis on my Youtube channel. I have interviewed over 500 members of the game industry around the world, and I'm a two-time author on game design with "20 Essential Games to Study" and "Game Design Deep Dive Platformers."

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