Kanye West's "Power" plays a central, recurring role in Volition's new open-world crime game Saints Row: The Third. The tune has been featured in the game's exhaustive promotional materials, plays regularly on its in-game radio stations, and makes bookending appearances in the single-player campaign. Considering the song's lyrics and the man who wrote them, Volition couldn't have chosen a more appropriate theme song.
No one man should have all that power
The clock's tickin' I just count the hours
Stop trippin' I'm tripping off the powder
Till then, fuck that, the world's ours
Is there a bigger egomaniac in the world than Kanye West? He is practically the embodiment of our cultural obsession with VIP-status, our fantasies of strength and chaotic destruction, of swaggering rage against a fucked-up world that just so happens to revolve entirely around us. And so Saints Row: The Third is a celebration of the player's ego and of his or her power—it's a joyous, wholehearted embrace of the "you" as it applies to video games. Who is the most important person in the world? You are! Who gets all the toys? You do! Indulge yourself, this game tells us. Stop tripping. The world's ours.
In Saints Row: The Third, players assume the role of the boss of the Third Street Saints, a notorious purple-clad gang of (surprisingly likable) psychopathic killers. The few surviving members of the Saints have blasted through two games and a sizable body count to arrive at the start of the third game, where they must relocate from the almost ironically generic city of Stillwater to the equally generic city of Steelport and claw to the top of yet another criminal empire.
By the time Saints Row: The Third's story begins, the Saints are no longer mere gangsters. They are super-criminal masterminds, amoral, invincible, and essentially unstoppable. This progression towards supervillain status has been happening for a while: Saints Row told an enjoyably soapy but grounded gangster tale, and Saints Row 2 upped the ante in terms of over-the-top antics. This was mainly in an effort to set itself apart from the juggernaut whose template it had stolen, Grand Theft Auto, and to a large extent it worked. Saints Row: The Third, then, is in many ways a full realization of the template set forth in Saints Row 2, often for the better and occasionally for the worse.
Want to play as an overweight Asian man with a lady's voice? Go for it. Want to be an iridescent purple goth chick with a giant tiger tattoo on her face? Make it happen.
The narrative setup is as follows: The Saints have become the biggest celebrities in the world, with energy drinks and reality shows to their names. In other words, they've cashed in and have sucked up as much modern-day ego-fuel as any human being could. But they haven't exactly gone soft—the opening mission has them robbing a bank by attaching guywires to the ceiling of the a room-sized vault before explosively separating it from the building and flying away with the entire thing dangling beneath a helicopter. Skydiving gunfights follow shortly afterwards.
As for your character, he or she is whatever you want him or her to be. At the start of the game, players can choose a character of any ethnicity, sex, size, or shape, and even customize their character's voice from a list of seven options—three male, three female, and one Zombie. (Here's a video I put up earlier this week detailing the character customization options). Want to play as an overweight Asian man with a lady's voice? Go for it. Want to be an iridescent purple goth chick with a giant tiger tattoo on her face? Make it happen.