The lights are on
Saints Row: The Third is a sandbox-style action-adventure video game being developed by Volition, Inc. and published by THQ. It is to be released on November 15th in America and November 18th in Europe, 2011 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and OnLive. It is the third title in the Saints Row series, after the release of Saints Row 2 in 2008. As in Saints Row 2, the player controls the leader of the Third Street Saints. The game world is the fictional city of Steelport, and the story focuses on the gang war between the Saints and The Syndicate, a rival criminal group.
Having defeated the rival gangs of Stilwater at the end of Saints Row 2 and overthrown the influence of the Ultor Corporation, the Saints have turned into National superstars, and they have their own energy drink, clothing line, and fanbase. They target a bank, attempting to airlift the vault out of it, but the alarm alerts the Stilwater PD and the Saints are incarcerated. In prison, they learn that the bank they tried to rob was owned by a huge international crime organization called the Syndicate, led by Phillipe Loren. After bribing the police, the Syndicate capture the Saints' leader, Johnny Gat, and Shaundi to try and negotiate a business plan with them, aboard Loren's private jet. While in-flight, Loren tells them they will be allowed to live if they turn over two-thirds of their territory in Stilwater. The leader of the Saints rejects this offer, and a gunfight breaks out, with the Saint's leader and Shaundi escaping from the jet while Johnny Gat holds back their enemies to buy them time. It is unknown if Johnny Gat survives or not.
With the Syndicate in full control of Stilwater, the Saints relocate themselves to the city of Steelport. Pierce is instructed to remain in Stilwater to make sure everything runs smoothly. Steelport is a city that was created as factories flourished with little city planning, and since has suffered from economic failure, contrasting the glamour of Stilwater. The Syndicate has already begun to take control of some parts of Steelport, focusing on vices like merchandise and gambling. To extend their reach, the Syndicate had divided their control of the city through three gangs. The Morning Star, lead by Loren directly, are typically European men with impeccable taste, selling guns. The Mexican wrestler Killbane controls the Luchadores who deal with gambling and drugs smuggling. The Deckers, led by hacktivist Matt Miller, are computer geniuses, and handle the money laundering. The Saints see the opportunity to take control of Steelport from these groups. As the war between the gangs intensifies, government trained Special Tactical Anti-Gang (STAG) units will attempt to halt any violent activity whether it be perpetrated by the Saints or the Syndicate.
Much like previous Saints Row games, several celebrities voice characters in the game. Daniel Dae Kim reprises his role as Johnny Gat, Sasha Grey voices Viola DeWynter, and Hulk Hogan voices professional wrestler and Saints ally Angel De LaMuerte.
In previous Saints Row games, the player would be able to approach each of the three rival gangs along separate storylines that ultimately culminated into a final conclusion. In The Third, the storylines between the three gangs are interconnected, and decisions that the player makes in dealing with one faction may alter the behavior of the other factions towards the player or missions that may be available later. The developers have focused on developing an open-ended storyline; the majority of storyline missions can be completed in multiple ways, and the decisions that the player makes on these missions will ultimately affect the game's ending.
The Third retains the blend of third-person action and driving sequences in open world, urban warfare format that is traditional in the Saints Row series. The player, as the leader of the Third Street Saints, can explore the city of Steelport, performing main missions that progress the game's story, and side missions. These side missions include Activities, mini-games initiated at various points in the game world, Strongholds, rival gang bases that can be taken over to control a section of Steelport and; Flashpoints, on-the-spot gang warfare. Successful completion of missions can earn the player in-game money, weapons, cars, and gang respect. Previous Saints Row games used respect as a way to unlock story missions; The Third uses respect as experience points which the player can then spend to improve specific attributes of their character, such as melee combat or firearms skills. A leveling system is introduced, and the player selects these attributes, or 'perks', each time the player character is leveled-up. Money can be used to purchase clothing items, weapons and cars, or may be used to upgrade weapons and cars with unique features, such as adding scopes or extra barrels to a weapon, which are then stored in the player's arsenal. Money can also be used to upgrade the Saints gang, customizing their appearance, outfits, and headquarters. The "Initiation Station" system allows players to upload their character creations to The Third's online community, and download other players' creations to use with their save-game. Within The Third, the player can set up to four different appearance styles for their gang. Finally, money is also used to purchase shops and other properties within Steelport, which in turn will become a steady stream of income for the gang over time.
While completing some missions, the player may be given a choice of options to finalize the mission. For example, they may opt to destroy a rival gang's boat, including the prostitutes aboard, or instead capture it, and sending the prostitutes to the Saints' headquarters to boost the gang's morale. In another case, the player has the option of using a gigantic bomb to demolish one of the skyscrapers in the city; though they will gain a great deal of respect for the action, it will alter the city's skyline for the rest of the game and cause non-player characters to react differently to the Saints, while leaving the building standing allows it to be used as a headquarters for the Saints. New Activities have been introduced alongside many from previous Saints Row games.
The player's arsenal is presented as a pop-up compass through which weapons are equipped with the analog stick. Novelty weapons are introduced alongside the traditional arsenal of handguns and automatic weapons. Players will gain the ability to call down airstrikes on encamped enemies, or to use a remote control electric bug to control vehicles remotely. Unlike the first two games, there are no health recovery items in favor of improving the grenade throwing system; in exchange, the player's health will regenerate at a faster rate as long as they stay out of the line of fire. Nearly all actions in the game can be sped up by holding down a second controller button, dubbed by Volition as the "awesome button"; for example, when carjacking, holding down this button will cause the player character to missile-kick the driver out of the seat in short order.
In addition to the single-player mode, the game can be played co-operatively with one other player. As in Saints Row 2, the second player can participate in all missions and activities, earning credit for their completion. Certain activities provide different rules when a second player is present; for example, in the Guardian Angel activity, the second player will have to control the tiger in the backseat while the first player drives. Because of their focus on the single player and co-operative experience, Volition has removed competitive multiplayer from the title.
The Third was envisioned as early as September 2008, when it was in the early stages of production. An investor's presentation was held by THQ in February 2009, wherein their lineup for the coming financial years was announced. The presentation announced that The Third was projected to release during financial year 2011. In an interview for the December 2009 issue of Game Informer magazine, THQ vice president Danny Bilson announced that The Third would debut at the 2010 E3 trade show, and that it would retain the over-the-top style of its predecessors.
During E3 2010, he revealed that the game would not debut there but would instead be shown at the Spike Video Game Awards in December. He also revealed that THQ planned to release a Saints Row film as well as various merchandise such as a collectible card game and books. At E3, THQ announced Saints Row: Drive-By instead. It was to be released on the Nintendo 3DS and via PlayStation Network and Xbox Live as part of a marketing strategy for The Third. During the Spike Video Game Awards, Volition announced inSANE, a collaboration with Guillermo del Toro, instead of The Third. It was officially announced for Q4 2011 on March 2, 2011 in a press release by THQ. In May 2011, THQ announced that The Third's tie-in Saints Row: Drive-By had ceased development and had been cancelled.
As for the game engine, Volition representatives had to say the following: "In regards to considerations over Geo-Mod 2, we get that question a lot understandably, and the answer is yes, we considered it. But we ended up not going in that direction for two reasons. One, it would have been very, very difficult to do. It would have been possible, but difficult. Two, I think you could make the argument that delivering that level of destruction arguably creates a game that’s different to what fans of the franchise have come to expect." That means Saints Row: The Third won't be using Geo-Mod in any possible way.