You want crazed murder and hilarious mayhem in your Saints Row? Developer Volition is going to give it to you, right out of the box, in Saints Row: The Third.
That means beatdowns with giant purple dildos and comically large fists that cause pedestrians to explode on contact will be at your disposal. That means hopping into a VTOL jet and bombing tanks won't require unlocking the ability to do so. That means the hyperviolent sandbox carnival of destruction that you want from your Saints Row games is ready, waiting and willing.
After all, the Saints are running things in this game. They're celebrities, lending their likenesses to energy drinks, sneakers, even vehicles. They do whatever they want.
Kotaku recently got an eyes-on demonstration of Saints Row: The Third at a THQ event, where we got to see some of that comedic mayhem in action.
Developers from Volition popped into the town of Steelport, in the heart of its Las Vegas-like main strip, promising us instant action. To prove it, one of the Saints started piledriving pedestrians, posing stylishly afterward.
He strapped on a pair of Apoca-fists, punching more pedestrians into a fine, bloody mist. He attached sticky bombs to others, blowing them up. Then he called in an air strike, taking out a rival gang faction in the process.
This madness seemed so normal in Saints Row: The Third, a game more over the top than ever. No one blinked when a developer from Volition promised the following technical innovation: "All of the weapons have different groin hit animations whether you're attacking them from the front or behind." Progress!
Keeping the madness going, we got a look at one of Saints Row: The Third's activities, Tank Mayhem. Just drop into one of massive military tanks one might find in Steelport, then cause as much collateral damage in a limited amount of time as possible. Or hop into one of the game's VTOL jets—actually owned by STAG, the military operation formed to take down the Saints—and enjoy your destruction from the air, decimating everything in your path with laser beams and homing missiles.
That VTOL seemed like one of the more tame vehicular options after we were shown two more: the Johnny Gatmobile and the Genki Manapault.
The Gatmobile is named for its oddball chassis. It has a huge Johnny Gat head on the front, complete with lit cigarette (actually a flamethrower). If you like your pedestrians blackened or the wearable Johnny Gat bobblehead masks just too understated, this is the ride for you.
Or perhaps you'd prefer the Manapault, a truck with a cartoon cat face and a vacuum cannon on top. We watched it suck up pedestrians and prostitutes, launching them across the cityscape and into buildings. Players can also turn that cruelty upon themselves, sucking themselves out of the driver's seat then blasting themselves into the air, landing (almost) safely by popping out a parachute.
Saints Row: The Third offers more than just random chaos. It also offers structured chaos, which we saw in one of the game's story-based mission modes. The slice we saw had the Saints pulling a bank heist, a crime committed at the behest of method actor Josh Burke. He was researching a role and embedded himself with the Saints, all of whom were wearing Johnny Gat bobblehead masks.
It was about as goofy as bank robberies get in video games, with Burke asking bank patrons and employees if they'd like his autograph while the Saints shot up the joint. After some confusion, some firefights with security, SWAT showed up, attacking the Saints in waves.
The Saints raided the bank vault, only to find it locked down, so they decided to attack it from above, blowing a hole in the floor. Then, they called in air support, lifting the entire vault out of the bank via helicopter. So, here we were on top of a bank vault suspended from a helicopter, while SWAT teams are swarming the blown out portion of the building. It was a crazed firefight atop a teetering, swaying vault hovering a few stories up.
Then the attack choppers showed up and the violence started to really go overboard. Of course, this chaos and destruction was peppered with comedy, as police shouted things like "I need your autograph and for you to put down your weapon!" and "Turn yourselves in! My son wants to meet Shaundi!" via megaphone.
So whether you like to follow a script for your video game debauchery or simply want to riff on new ways to kill and be killed, it looks like Saints Row: The Third has you covered. The game is due to hit the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC on November 15, 2011 in North America.
Check out new screen shots of the game in our gallery.