Saints Row: The Third Becomes the Anti-Grand Theft Auto

Volition's Saints Row was once regarded as little more than a shameless Grand Theft Auto clone. But times change, and while GTA has evolved into a mature open world drama, Saints Row: The Third goes in the complete opposite direction.

Here's a rundown of some things that the game's protagonist accomplished during a video demonstration at E3:

· Elbow-dropped a pedestrian

· Punched someone in the face

· Punched someone in the, um, nether regions

· Attacked someone with an unmentionable from an adult toy store

· Punched a pedestrian with a set of gigantic hands, which caused that person to explode

· Jumped in a tank and racked up cash by blowing up as much stuff as possible

· Stole a car by jump-kicking through the driver-side window

· Stole a fighter jet and blew up cars with homing missiles

· Used a pickup truck that sucks up pedestrians and launches them into the sky

· Signed an autograph

From these highlights, it's fair to say that Saints Row: The Third is not trying to be Grand Theft Auto. There's a plot, in which the Saints gang tries to conquer a new city after freeing their old haunt from an evil corporation, but there's also a clear focus on making the playground as ridiculous as possible.

"Sometimes, there was a lot of alcohol involved," writer Drew Holmes said when I asked him how the developers brainstormed. He explained that with Saints Row 2, a lot of the game's positive feedback was related to its wackier side, so the team decided to play up those over-the-top moments in Saints Row: The Third. "We could really own that space," he said.

The E3 demo included one actual mission -- a bank robbery gone wrong -- which looked amusing if only for the banter between characters, but I'm a little concerned that the gunplay remains stuck in the past. There was no cover system, just a lot of aiming and shooting at a steady stream of targets. If the rest of the story missions aren't more ambitious, players may never want to leave the sandbox -- although that doesn't seem like such a tragedy.

Saint's Row: The Third launches on November 15.

Follow Jared on Facebook and Twitter for even more tech news and commentary.

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
Related:
Shop Tech Products at Amazon