If you’ve always wanted to know what it’s like to be an arrogant homicidal asshole, Saint’s Row: The Third is the game for you. Taking some of the most criticized traits of the Grand Theft Auto series and magnifying them 10 fold, the third Saint’s Row game is more violent than almost any game on the show floor and proud of it. During our demo, the guys from developer Volition Inc. joked around incessantly as they impaled women, shot pedestrians out of cannons, and destroyed a city block with a tank just for sport.
The main difference between Saint’s Row and a game like GTA, said Volition, is that they start you off with absolutely everything. You are already famous for being a “saint” (a dick) and you can do anything. People love it when you cause mayhem. Volition is taking the role of Roy Orbison here: anything you want, you got it. Want to drive in any car? You got it. Want to run around naked or dressed like a furry animal? You got it. Want to beat children to death? You got it. Feel like flying a hovering super jet? Go for it. While the game has some missions, at its heart, it wants to be an outlet for your entertainment, no matter how violent or perverse.
Though the game could only be seen in a private theater via appointment, Saint’s Row signs and promotions littered the hallways, walls, and even the parking lots of E3. You couldn’t escape the game. These pictures should give you a better idea.
We were also shown a few minigames and scenarios. One had you taking control of a tank to see how much damage to people, cars, and buildings you could cause in a time limit. Your damage was calculated in dollars, the greater the damages, the better you’ve done. There are also costume shops and body manipulation. Yes, this game lets you choose how you wish to look and what you want to wear, even if its a purple space suit. Finally, we engaged in a story scenario where a group of wannabe Saints are attempting to rob a bank vault. This starts out with gun shots and gore, but ends in all out mayhem as you fire on SWAT teams from atop a bank vault that your helicopter just ripped out of the building.
If all of this is your thing, you’ll be pleased to know that the game looks great, implementing the Havok physics engine and a graphics engine capable of displaying a city and citizens that are more detailed than most open world, sandbox games. The real question is, how in the world will this game get anything but an Adults Only rating from the ESRB, the game industry’s equivalent of NC-17/X.
Saint’s Row: The Third appears on course to shoot up the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 Nov. 15, 2011.