Saints Row: The Third

Extreme - and then some

Player's a player

It's desperately familiar stuff: pimping your ride in chop shops, decking yourself out at outfitters in cool or wacky garb, seeking sanctuary in cribs from police and gangs, drug dealing, theft, prostitution and, naturally, shootouts, tons and tons of shootouts.

Saints Row The Third

Wheel good shot

The game's mechanics prove equally as generic. True to form, driving and combat controls sit somewhere between adequate and awkward. Vehicles handle distinctively, from zippy and nimble Japanese sportsters to lumbering and achingly slow dump trucks, but they all share inexact physics and an overriding sensation of detachment from the tarmac.

The third-person movement feels floaty too. Aiming is imprecise – although, to be fair, combat transitions between gunplay and melee with remarkable fluidity.

Saints Row The Third

Quit clowning around

Elsewhere, the game's production values fall short of current top-tier games. The graphics are average at best, with a high enemy count coming at the expense of textures and animations. Despite the appearance of a bustling street life, Steelport's NPCs lack the vitality of Liberty City's randomly-scripted citizens, but they're at least superior to Mafia II's one-dimensional automatons.

There are also glitches aplenty, from constant object and texture pop-in to a GPS system which offers an overland route when aboard watercraft and gang fights that become stuck in endless respawn loops.

Saints Row The Third

Shooter marking chopper

So what's there to enjoy in Saints Row: The Third? Well, surprisingly, quite a lot. Its underlying mechanics might be shaky, but the impressive mission variety and bombastic pyrotechnics are irresistibly distracting.

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