The last console generation produced some of the strongest open-world experiences in the history of the medium. While the likes of Grand Theft Auto V and Skyrim soaked up praise, one of the lesser-known (but equally important) ones came from developer Volition. Saints Row: The Third took the formula established by its predecessors and cranked it up to 11. It catapulted the franchise to stardom, and it’s kind of crazy there hasn’t been a new entry since the lackluster Saints Row IV. With the next entry still some ways out, the time has come to return to Steelport with the arrival of Saints Row: The Third Remastered.
As the title indicates, this is by no means a remake of the 2011 classic. It’s a full-on remaster that buffs up the look of the 3rd Street Saints battle against the Syndicate. The package comes complete with the entire original game plus all of its DLC. There’s so much content here that I bet Volition wishes they didn’t already use The Full Package moniker. All jokes aside, there’s a ton of gameplay here for both newcomers to the series, as well as returning vets who wish to experience The Third saga again.
For those who forgot, the threequel picks up with the Saints after they have broken through to the mainstream. The members of the gang have become celebrities, but have seemingly lost the edge that brought them to the top to begin with. However, after the gang comes under attack by the enterprise known as the Syndicate, and loses one of their most recognizable members in the process, they realize that they’ll need to return to classic form in order to survive. The first order of business for the newly reinvigorated gang: taking the fight to the Syndicate’s home turf in Steelport.
Surprisingly, one The Third‘s aspects that has aged the best is the completely ridiculous story. It starts with an insane setpiece and continually ramps up the craziness all the way through to the additional DLC content. The absurdity of it all is a refreshing change of pace to the more serious action games that rose to prominence this console generation. It also doesn’t go completely off the deep end, like the follow-up does, which is for the best. The title’s off-kilter sense of humor also feels refreshing in this day and age. Yes, as a society, we have probably moved past most of the sophomoric humor here, but I can’t lie, I still laughed quite a bit.
Surprisingly, the core gameplay largely holds up in 2020. Exploring and taking over Steelport is still quite enjoyable, and I think the map’s size is a huge benefit. It’s big, but it never feels overwhelming. This allowed Volition to populate it with side activities that are more than just pointless filler. The various tasks are all quite enjoyable to take part in, even if some of the directions can be frustrating to follow. However, the shooting does feel dated. The guns lack oomph, and while you can upgrade your weapons, the enemies take way too many shots to put down. That’s most likely due to the game’s heightened reality, but it’s still annoying when you are frequently getting swamped by enemies.
After almost a decade on the market, most have already decided whether they enjoy Saints Row: The Third or not. The important question here, though, is whether the remastering efforts from developer Sperasoft make revisiting the title necessary. To begin with, the studio did a solid job updating the visuals for the modern age. I love the look of Steelport, which blends together futuristic city locales with more run-down suburbia rather well. Lighting has been improved across the board and helps the city’s architecture look better than it used to. Obviously, it still doesn’t look as good as a title built from the ground-up on current-gen consoles, but for such an old game, it’s an impressive effort.
The biggest visual upgrade, though, goes to the character models. Pretty much every major player in the campaign has been given some kind of bump in the looks department. And honestly, I think all of them are improvements upon their original designs. Some, such as Killbane, only received minor updates, but others, like Kinzie and the DeWynter twins, look significantly better. There are some slight issues with lip-syncing, but nothing too egregious. Extra polish has also been given to the vehicles and weapons. Sure, they’re minor improvements, but ones that show the effort that went into remastering the title.
Not unlike the original game, there are some wonky glitches to be found in Saints Row: The Third Remastered. Most of what I came across had to do with the vehicles. I’ve seen automobiles completely disappear from the road, NPCs get into them from wildly off-screen, and some even had trouble entering them from time to time. Pop-in is still a pretty big issue. It’s not just limited to buildings, though, as other cars and foliage also tend to come in and out of view. Considering these issues were prevalent the first time around, it’s disappointing that they popped up here as well.
Saints Row: The Third Remastered may not be perfect, but it does successfully bring the original to the modern era. The graphical overhaul was handled incredibly well by Sperasoft, and while it is dated in some regards, the gameplay is still mostly enjoyable. I don’t think it will change the minds of those who were previously turned off by the tone and style of the game, but for fans of the series, Steelport is worth revisiting with this release.
This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version of the game. A copy was provided by Deep Silver.