Saturday, January 28, 2012

Did You Miss This? For 1/28

This might be a new feature I'm starting on weekends putting up videos I missed during the week here...

A new multiplayer/co-op trailer went up for Mass Effect 3 and its looking better than I thought on that front. Its looks to be another wave-based survival mode, but of course I could be wrong. You have races to choose from in this Special Forces mode as each race has their class they're specialized in as you probably seen in the first two games. Examples being that the Turians are soldiers-based, Asaris being Vanguards, and so on. I just wanna play this already, but its almost a month away so I can still wait in the meantime.

Street Fighter X Tekken keeps on piling on the exclusives on the PS3 as there are five exclusive characters now on that system. Besides Cole from Infamous and the two Japanese Playstation mascots, the other two are Namco and Capcom's big mascots in a different twist. Pac-Man comes in controlling a Mokujin robot and resembles Tron Bonne in some ways. The big talk of this clip however is about the return of bad box art Mega Man. Mega Man fans never seen to get what they wanted these days, but the bad box art version is awesome from a casual perspective. Plus, only Ono would pull a stunt like this including him in the game. Basically, Mega Man is back in a fighting game, but probably not the one fans wanted. Whatever, this is still great to me even though we won't see them in the tournament scene due to being PS3 exclusive. It is still a mixed bag if Street Fighter X Tekken will be worth all the hype with so many crap in it plus the "Cross Assault" reality show they announced recently, which I'm not gonna even bother trying to audition as there are way better people out there suited for that.

Dance Central 2 got a sick song as a download this week and the routine for it is pretty sick too. I have been thinking lately about getting a Kinect setup, but I don't think my house is ready for that lol.

That's it for now... maybe I should get Soul Calibur V now? Hmmmmm... naaaa.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

PSN Demo Showcase for 1/26/12

The PSN Demo Showcase is back and there is lots to talk about with the variety of games that came out as demos in the past couple of weeks.

First off is UFC Undisputed 3 as I have been playing the demo and the alpha online test that finally came out late last week for PSN peeps. The alpha test is definitely an early build of the game without most of the sounds you hear normally in an UFC game from the music and the announcers. It served its purpose testing the netcode to make sure its fine for the final game and so far it seems so from what I played. Created fighters are only allowed in this version and it is a nice touch to mix things up with fighting styles as the matches go on standard rules compared to the demo. The only disappointing part about the demo is that matches are set to one round only than the traditional three rounds as seen in past demos of THQ's franchise. Luckily there's PRIDE rules to use along with the normal UFC rules as PRIDE rounds are set to ten minutes, so that's the mode to go with if you want more time fighting. Four fighters are selectable in the demo as Jon Jones & Anderson Silva are playable in the UFC while Wanderlei Silva and Rampage Jackson are on PRIDE. The extra year of time has definitely paid off for UFC Undisputed 3 as Yuke's are able to add more touches and beef up the modes to make the game feel like the ultimate UFC game we have been waiting for. The core gameplay is still intact from previous entries, but the little new additions make this game worth it for any UFC fan. From the roster that includes the featherweight and banterweight classes, PRIDE (which the developers did a great job integrating it to the game), and the little new details that make fights don't like the last game, UFC Undisputed 3 is looking pretty good as beatdowns begin on Valentine's Day.

Next up is The Darkness II, the long awaited sequel to 2007's The Darkness. I actually enjoyed the first game as it was one of my personal sleeper hits of that year on the 360, so I'm curious how this one will pan out. First of all, Digital Extremes is handling this game than the original's developer Starbreeze and the graphical style has been changed completely as it looks more cel-shaded now. Cel-shaded graphics are actually a rarity these days, so its nice to see games like this implement it every now and then. The protagonist from the last game, Jackie, is back, and new villains are after his Darkness powers. The combat is mostly the same as more attention was paid to the Darkness tentacles being more than what they were in the original. I do like that you do crazy animations when firing guns as if you were in some John Woo flick, so that's cool than seeing the same old shooting animation from pretty much every other game that's out. There is a level up/upgrades system too as you gain experience by obviously killing enemies by guns or your tentacles. The pace during the demo though was a little too crazy for me, but it did start out with a bang. However, I do have a feeling that The Darkness II will be slept on again but we'll see about that.

The demo for EA's Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning has been out for a couple of weeks and it is a lengthy one too. For those who don't know, 38 Studios (Curt Shilling's development studio) and Big Huge Games are making this as it has been a long time coming for this to come out. If I can sum up this RPG in a nutshell, it would be a mix of Fable and Mass Effect. The environments are as colorful as Fable's especially when outdoors and it also has Mass Effect's dialogue trees even though your created main character is silent. Once you're out of the first area, there is a 45 minute limit for the rest of the demo as there are numerous quests in a big world (whatever you're given) to take on even though most of them can't be finished here. My time with it has been a mixed bag as it is a solid RPG with the necessary elements to be as good as the other big ones that came out recently, but it doesn't mean I had fun with it. In addition the demo is really buggy filled with missing textures and awkward camera angles to the point your land disappears. Good thing its just an early build that the developers released and it will be fixed in the final game, but having that many bugs in a big downloadable demo is inexcusable these days. Then again, this could be the RPG to play after you're tired of Skyrim when it comes out on February 7.

Last up for now is a multiplayer beta for Gotham City Impostors. This is a multiplayer-only spinoff game in the Batman universe as it is pretty self-explanatory that you can play as Batman look-a-likes or a bunch of clowns that are reminiscent of The Joker. It definitely has a certain level of charm that is neat, which is sort of similar to Team Fortress 2 in some way especially when looking at the characters and the tutorials for the game modes. It is objective-based from a territory-like mode where you have to control a set of canisters for a good amount of time for a toxin to release if you're the Jokers or a group of bats if you're on the Batmen side. The other mode in this beta is a capture the flag variant where you have get a battery to your base and if held for a certain period of time you can confuse the opposition as they go into la-la-land, but they still can slap you to death if you're not careful. Gotham City Impostors is full of weapons and gadgets to mess around with from the conventional guns, grappling hooks, and more in the final games as there is a loadouts system and other customization options. Other than that, the gameplay is your standard shooter fare, but with the Batman twists if you're into that and the default sensitivity is higher than other shooters. I only had a brief time with the beta as I'll play more to see if it is worth buying.

That's it for now... next week is the Starhawk Beta for me since I have a code from Uncharted 3, but Playstation Plus owners have been playing it for a couple of weeks, so expect thoughts about that one soon.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Oh Yeah New SSX Gameplay Footage Yeah!

If this new gameplay footage of SSX doesn't sell you on the game, I don't know what to say. Perhaps my game of 2011 is coming quicker than I thought, so basically buy this game on February 28!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Leon & Chris Are Ready to Do Work Again in Resident Evil 6

After months of rumors and speculation, Resident Evil 6 is officially announced for a November 12 release on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 (PC version will be out later). This ain't just another Resident Evil game though as two mainstays of the franchise are playable and have a big role in the story. Leon and Chris are doing work again to save the world from bioterrorism, but in different locales this time around. Leon's arc is dealing with the president, who is apparently got caught in the virus forcing Leon to make as Capcom says in the PR the biggest decision of his life. Chris's arc is in China to clear out the latest threat there and yes, there are zombies everywhere again. A third playable character is introduced along with who likely seems to be Ashley (The playable guy is probably Alex Wesker?). What I mean as this ain't just another RE game, its a pretty big game with elements from 4 and 5, but Capcom says they're trying to have a middle ground between those games gameplay-wise. I actually skipped RE5 because it was too much like 4 with little improvements to the formula. Maybe they learned their lesson this time around incorporating elements seen in other first & third-person shooters like cover and sprinting, but it is still 4 and 5 at its core. This is a lengthy trailer to digest as well and I'm already hype for the game, but we'll see if Capcom can bring it back again after 5 being a disappoint for many people.

Are You Really Ready For Some Genkibowl??

The first mission-based DLC for Saints Row: The Third came out earlier this week titled Genkibowl VII. Maybe I should of had missions in air quotes because these are basically more activities that have the crazy vibe of the Genki stuff from the main game. The announcers from Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax return for Genkibowl featuring slightly different twists of existing activities from the game that have that Genki flavor. Unfortunately, the slight twists aren't much as Apocalypse Genki is another version of S.E.R.C., except in a jungle-like environment and sharks coming out of the water to bite mascots away. Sexy Kitten Yarngasm is Tank Mayhem, but with a big ball of yarn instead trashing the city for points. There's a cleverly named achievement/trophy called C-C-C Combo Breaker for that activity alone (shoutouts to Killer Instinct). Super Ethical PR Opportunity is basically Escort, but with Genki around as you drive his Genkimobile burning people up while avoiding the exposure. Getting the car's flamethrower to go is interesting as you have to run over pedestrians to get it going to impress the professor. The only original activity of the bunch however is Sad Panda Skyblazing. Honestly, you probably won't get it done in the first try as the game and skydiving controls can be a pain for this instance, but once you know what to do as the announcers explain, then you'll be fine. The point of Sad Panda Skyblazing to skydive through rings and kill mascots in skyscrapers to accumulate enough money to go on the landing spot. There are hot air balloons spread throughout the level to keep your dive intact while in the air (even the unethical pandas give you more air).

The Genkibowl activities can be done in a hour or less unless you're getting to get all the achievements/trophies from the set, which aren't that hard but can take you a little longer if things don't go your way in the missions. I wish there was more originality with the activities as three of them are just different takes on existing activities, but still fun regardless. Its not everyday you're rolling a big ball of pink yarn down a city destroying everything in your way. It is a little disappointing you're getting this much content for seven dollars (unless you got the Season Pass for the rest of the DLC), but if you're itching for new stuff to do in Saints Row: The Third, Genkibowl is still worth to get strapped on again till the next mission-based DLC comes out in a month or two.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

My Type of Snowboarding Heaven...

Yeah it is Winter time (well not really in Los Angeles during the day time) and my personal big game of the season is none other than the return of EA's SSX. I've been pretty stoked since the original announcement and every time it has been shown in preview events and trailers, it keeps getting better and better. This is my own snowboarding heaven as SSX is out on February 28, a crowded stretch personally for me when I have Mass Effect 3 and Street Fighter X Tekken out a week later, but who cares since I have been waiting for this all console generation.

And yes, SSX has lots of wubwubwubwub...

Capcom goes ANIME with the Asura's Wrath Demo...

Capcom's first game for 2012 is Asura's Wrath, which is out next month, as a demo of the game came out on Xbox Live Marketplace and Playstation Network earlier this week. If I had to describe this game in one word, it would be ANIME. Asura's Wrath is way too anime as it makes me laugh every time I play through the demo when the crazy stuff happens, but unfortunately the game doesn't make a good impression. There are two levels in the demo and they are pretty much boss battles. Episode 5 has the most "variety" than Chapter 11 and yes I quoted vartiety because there is not really of ton it in Asura's Wrath. It is an action game with an overuse of quicktime events as if it is the whole game. There is a shooting section in the boss battle against the giant like Zone of the Enders where Asura has a lock-on mechanic straight up from that game, but the basic goal of Asura's Wrath (especially in this demo) though is bulk up for burst meter and then make insane crap happen. It sucks that there is no basic combat sections against normal enemies in this demo as Capcom and developer CyberConnect2 handled this demo poorly even though they're like "Hey, let's have these levels in the demo because of they're f-in nuts without spoiling the story." Even in 2012, demos can be mishandled in this console generation. The one-on-one fight against Augus in Chapter 11 is straight up anime with cheesy dialogue like watching a Dragon Ball Z fight without the crazy fireball sequences, but the action is so over the top, it becomes too ridiculous. Even though Asura's Wrath will likely be a disappointing game from Capcom, give the demo a shot if you like ANIME in your action games.

Friday, January 6, 2012

EA Sports Goes From Jamming to Blitzing... The NFL Blitz Review

After the successful NBA Jam revival, EA Sports decides to also bring back NFL Blitz in this new downloadable release for Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network. The Blitz franchise has been known for fast-paced arcade style football without most of the NFL rules from pass interference being allowed, a limited but enough playbook on both sides of the ball, being on fire like NBA Jam, and crazy tackle animations the Madden games dreamed of having. Most of what makes NFL Blitz the game it was back in the late 90s is still in this new one gameplay-wise, but the missing things really hurt this revival from being great. Who would of thought a NFL Blitz game would lack energy like this one?

This 2012 version of NFL Blitz is crammed with modes both offline and online. There is of course is play now mode, but then there is the other stuff like Blitz Gauntlet. Blitz Gauntlet is a Mortal Kombat style ladder where you face real NFL teams and then have a boss battle against wacky characters such as zombies, ninjas, and horses. The only point of this mode is basically gaining these unlockable teams that can be activated before a game starts on the code screen, which also returns from previous entries. Besides the unlockable teams, you can change the ball color, turn on big head mode, and many other stuff on the code screen as long as you input the right icons before time is up. While Blitz Gauntlet is the main offline mode, the bulk of the game is actually on the online front.

The online modes in this new iteration will pretty much make or break the game for most people in terms of how long they will play it and the amount of them on at the same time to play games. If a decent community gets going, then the game will be fine online, but as most downloadable games go these days, people don't come back after launch week. Anyway, there is a simple head-to-head mode with only the real NFL teams and also Blitz Teams where its 2v2 online. The leaderboard system is pretty crazy especially for a game like this as you climb ladders locally, regionally, and then nationally by consistently playing well online. Performance-wise, the games play fine for the most part, but the lag can be a problem especially during punts and kicks since they are timing based. However, pulling out a clutch online win by a last second field goal under laggy conditions feels very satisfying. The Elite League mode consist of a card system that is basically fantasy football as you start out with a weak team, but having more Blitz bucks, which you can only gain them by playing online, you can buy more cards for better players, ultimate cheats, and more. Additionally you can pony up rare cards against others in Risk and Reward as well.

The core gameplay is as good as it was back in the original with most of the playbook resembling that one with infamous plays such as Da Bomb, Sub-Zero, Hurricane, and many more. The action is still fast-paced with two minute quarters as you can score in mere seconds and 30 yards are required for a first down. As long as you don't pass the line scrimmage, you can pass the ball more than once if you wanna be fancy at times. Being on fire is simple on both sides of the ball as you have to throw to the same receiver three times in a row on offense and sack the quarterback twice in a row on defense. In boss battles and elite league games, there are powerups spread throughout the field The vicious tackles are back in full force, but the ability to not do late hits like the original games is a huge disappointment especially for purists. The late hits were a hallmark of the franchise as since the NFL didn't want them in this new iteration, you can blame them. Kicking is only in field goals and punts as extra points are free as they were in the original, but I personally had an extra point missed once randomly, which was weird. There are also little changes from past games that hardcore Blitz guys will notice for both good and bad, but the core gameplay is still as pick up and play as it gets.

My major criticism with this new Blitz though is that there is definitely a lack of energy when it comes to the presentation especially how the game looks and sounds. The game just looks boring as I couldn't let myself have long stretches with the game, so it is best played in short sessions. It lacks the grittiness how the Blitz games were back in the day as if you compare it to Madden NFL Arcade, they can look pretty similar. Blitz goes by a certain art style and while the players are bigger and bulkier than their Madden versions, a certain spark is flat out missing. The NFL stadiums look bland and the crowd does not look as good as expected. The same lack of energy also comes with the commentary, which is also disappointing. Tim Kutzrow returns from NBA Jam as the main announcer along with Brian Haley as there isn't that much enthusiasm from the guys while the game is going along with the fact they don't talk that much either. The banter between the two gets repetitive as you'll hear the same jokes and lines multiple times, so the variety is not there as well.

So is this new NFL Blitz by EA Sports really worth reviving? Magic struck with NBA Jam's comeback, but I can't say the same for Blitz however. Sure, the core gameplay is still good and there's enough replay value, but the lack of energy in the presentation from boring graphics to not much effort being put in to the commentary really hurts the overall package. Even though there are a ton of online options, having players actually playing online is a problem even though it is not the game's fault since downloadable releases tend to not go well after launch week with player numbers. If there is enough of a community to keep going with the numerous modes and leaderboards, then the game can be a bit more enjoyable. Other than that, there is some fun to be had with NFL Blitz if you're into arcade sports games, but it could of been so much better considering the amount of effort the developers put into it.

Score = 6.5/10

  • Core gameplay still good and fast-paced
  • Tons of modes for replay value both offline and online
  • Its still Blitz, but not everything that made the franchise famous are not in this new one
  • Lack of online players can be a problem since the bulk of the game is online especially when trying to earn Blitz Bucks
  • No late hits is a big disappointment, but blame the NFL on that one
  • The game overall just has a lack of energy... it looks and sounds boring

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Little Late - But My Top 10 Games of 2011

Yeah yeah its 2012 now, but I finally got around to do my top 10 for 2011 revolving games. Let's just say it is not the top 10 you expect with some different titles and one notable game that has been getting GOTY honors that won't be here because I didn't play it is admittedly the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Perhaps I'm a little too worried about the numerous issues that version has, but anyway let's move on with the top 10. (Note - if you want more explanations on the specific games, check out the reviews)

10) Child of Eden

If you know how much of a Rez fan I am, it is no surprise Child of Eden made the list. No matter which version you play it on whether its the 360 version with Kinect controls or the PS3 one with Move, you're in for quite a trip. Some say it is still some weird acid trip, but it is a beautiful looking acid trip with tons of colors.

9) Shadows of the Damned

Here's my sleeper hit of the list, which is Shadows of the Damned. While is a RE4 style shooter done right for once (yeah Capcom on blast), it is the characters and the banter Garcia Hotspur and his skull sidekick have with each other that is my highlight of the game. Even the little things like them reading backgrounds of the bosses as if they're a children's story. If you love Grasshopper and especially Suda 51's insane take on games, this one should not be missed and hopefully Lolipop Chainsaw lives up to the developer's pedigree.

8) Mortal Kombat

Sure there are the obvious haters of the new Mortal Kombat especially earlier this week hearing that game is coming back for a second year at Evo, but it got numerous fighting game of the year awards for a reason. Personally, it sets new standards on how fighting games should be packaged (once again Capcom on blast) and how to have a key single player component with its story mode. The DLC characters and numerous patches have kept this game fresh even to today despite how questionable the game often gets patched to a certain crowd. The Komplete Edition is coming in a month or two if you missed out on the game and the DLC.

7) L.A. Noire

Rockstar has done it again with L.A. Noire being another top notch product. It is rare to see a detective-based adventure be that good despite its flaws. It is also one of the more original and refreshing games out last year. The facial technology is that groundbreaking and unlike anything I seen in most games this console generation. It is a shame how things shook up between Rockstar and developer Team Bondi, but if there is some sort of sequel coming, it will be completely different from this one.

6) Catherine

Catherine is another unique game I loved last year. Yeah, its a game about love but also dealing with a man's maturity to accept what is more important in life, which is marriage and a family, or lust and despair. The puzzle gameplay is something different as well despite its flaws, but I still give Atlus credit for having the balls to release a game like Catherine, a game that uses themes and concepts most games don't really use today. One thing that has kept Catherine going besides the infamous story is its multiplayer courtesy of the NorCal Install folks. They have running tournaments on the last third of 2011 with this unlockable mode and has gotten the fighting game crowd hype seeing crazy moments. Hopefully there is more Catherine in the future since it was a successful hit for Atlus.

5) Vanilla/Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Despite Capcom releasing two games last year, the Marvel vs. Capcom 3 games were my most played in 2011 due to the whole fighting game community thing and whatnot. They got some things right with vanilla establishing the core gameplay, but certain things like X-Factor and Dark Phoenix being a problem kept it from being the best and why Ultimate came out to change stuff. We'll see how Ultimate will play out in 2012 whether or not the game is fine as is especially with the new Heroes and Heralds mode to spice things up, or another big update might be coming to change up the playing field again.

4) Mass Effect 2 (PS3)

Typically games out in January get left out of GOTY contention because of people forgot about them (yeah what happened to LittleBigPlanet 2?). Good thing I didn't forget about playing the PS3 version of Mass Effect 2 in 2011. Sure, its an old game being on 360 first back in 2010, but it was still new to me and I did like the original a lot. The core changes to ME2 have been received a mixed reaction among fans being more shooter-focused and the only RPG-ness of the game were pretty much the dialogue choices. It seems to be a bit more balanced in the finale, ME3, out this March and I can't wait. I still had a great time with ME2 especially with the diverse characters introduced to the storyline and continuing the adventures of Shepard (I still love the ME1 cast though).

3) Batman: Arkham City

After the amazing Arkham Asylum bringing Batman back to gaming glory, Arkham City takes things to another level in terms of scale and story. The combat is still as good as it has been with its improvements and playing as Batman to his true self is one of a kind in today's standards. The amount of polish is superb and filled with memorable moments against the villains you know and love. Its gonna be interesting where Rocksteady goes from here when they make another Batman game, but hopefullly they can go crazier than they had before.

2) Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

Uncharted 3 is just that good, but even though it is still pretty high on my top 10, it didn't have the same impact as the last game had. It is indeed one breathtaking adventure being Nathan Drake again and the insane moments are up there in the series. Mutliplayer got way better being more of what you see in other shooters these days with an improved level up system, loadouts, and numerous plays to kill opponents in. The production by Naughty Dog is still the best in the business personally and I look forward to what The Last of Us will bring to the table this year.

1) Saints Row: The Third

So I just reviewed this earlier in the week and boy I love this game that much being a last minute entry to be my favorite game of 2011. My favorite gaming moments of the past year came from SR3 alone ranging from the "Power" jump, the http://deckers.die mission, and so many more. As I said in my review, this is an open world game done right (yeah GTA on blast now) just the insane campaign and the crazy stuff you do in the story missions. In addition, fill the game with lovable characters and actually fun toys to mess around in the city and you got yourself my favorite open world game this current generation (I still admit I overrated GTA4 looking back on it now). Basically, you have to play Saints Row: The Third and trust me on this!

That's it for 2011 on the gaming side... hopefully 2012 will be the same in terms of many great games on a consistent basis.

Monday, January 2, 2012

I Guess Every Superhero Needs His Theme Music... The Saints Row: The Third Review

The Saints Row franchise has been viewed as being a Grand Theft Auto clone to many people, but personally it is keeping what GTA was in the beginning being a sandbox filled with fun toys to mess around with in a living city. There is enough insanity to make the Saints Row games feel separate from Rockstar's juggernaut that started with the second game, but now pushed into another level in this third entry. Saints Row: The Third is quite simply an open-ended sandbox game done right with the most memorable main storyline I experienced in the genre, enough variety in other activities to do, and toys that are actually are fun to play around with in the city of Steelport. From the beginning to the end, the game is at ten off the bat in terms of crazy stuff to do and honestly it is the best open world action game I have played this console generation.

The Saints are riding high off their success from Saints Row 2 as a bank heist goes wrong in the beginning of this game and an organization known as the Syndicate is out to get you while running things at Steelport. The story is simple as the customized boss character (either male or female), it is up to you to take out the Syndicate consist of three gangs, the Morningstar, Deckers, and Luchadores to take over Steelport for the Saints, but there are lots of crazy twists along the way and it becomes more than just a city takeover. I love the personalities of the three gangs even though the Morningstar are your typical rich gang, but the Deckers and Luchadores are indeed special. The Deckers are cyperpunks that would use technology to their advantage as they have telporting gang members at their disposal. Their mission arc is among some of my favorite moments in the game due to the variety they throw at you. The Luchadores are pretty self-explanatory being a gang full of guys wearing luchalibre masks. Personalities really stand out in games like this and Saints Row: The Third is filled with personality with the memorable characters you roll with to the gang's bosses. Its not everyday when you're blowing up the city with some pimp that only talks with autotune.

The main story is filled with memorable moments and some of the best missions I played in an open-ended action game ever. Some of the missions have just no words to describe perfectly how they are other than sheer insanity and absurdity that makes sense. From escaping from an airplane and skydiving down killing enemies along the way, crazy levels while in disguise, wandering around in cyberspace, wrestling, and tons of choices to the point another playthrough is needed because there are multiple endings, Saints Row: The Third throws a lot of crazy situations at you. The side missions/activities return as well as they're a good distraction if you need a break from doing story missions. Franchise standouts from mayhem, insurance fraud, escort, and snatch are back as some new ones are introduced even though there are just some of the other ones with a twist like tank mayhem, tiger escort, the Professor Genki game show (also with its wacky fun), and trail blazing, where you're a flaming ATV racing through the city running down pedestrians and destroying cars to increase time. After completing them once, they're not necessary to play again to progress through the story, but they are to 100% the game if you're that completionist type. Gang operations and properties are spread throughout the city too in order to take over the city 100% additionally. Other than those, the standard conventions seen in other sandboxes such as collectibles, jumps to drive through, assassinations, and vehicle thefts to do as well.

Gameplay-wise, nothing is significantly changed with the core combat in the latest Saints Row. It still controls like a third-person shooter when you're on foot, which feels fine. The awesome button, aka the sprint button, is cool to have to do rolls to dodge and takedowns that are mostly pro wrestling moves like DDTs, bulldogs, and flying lariats (cue to THQ's WWE games). Melee combat is solid as well with some quicktime sequences (there are some of those throughout the story missions) and your occasional guns of pistols, SMGs, rifles, and shotguns. I also like the leveling up and upgrade systems in this game as you gain respect/level up by completing missions, activities, and tons of things you normally do in games like this. Your hourly income increases with more properties owned and areas taken over as one main way to gain cash to buy upgrades for your character and your gang. Weapons can be upgraded as some can be dual-wielded and if you reached max respect, have infinite ammo with no reloading at all. Health/sprint increases are there as well along with decreasing damage taken from bullets, explosives, and so on. The driving mechanics are also great because of powersliding and you'll just find fast cars right away when you start off in the city. Cars and bikes can be customized cosmetically as well in Rim Jobs stores as if you're playing a Need for Speed game tricking out your ride. Character customization is through the roof with tons of options in terms of overall looks and clothes to wear. Your imagination is the limit when it comes to making your character stand out unless you try to make him as close to yourself as you can, which what I did in my main playthrough.

Besides the main campaign, which can also be played co-op with another person online, the other mode in Saints Row: The Third is the cleverly titled Whored Mode. If you have guessed, yes this is Saints Row's take on the wave-based survival mode that is in tons of shooters. That Saints Row twist though is filled with its craziness as you're not dealing with the same type of enemy in every wave. They'll throw a crazy stipulation as well as nut shots and headshots only in certain situations as well as become big or tiny when killing enemies. There aren't ton a maps to choose with, but the characters you can pick from are bascially a variety of costumes to play around with. Whored Mode can be played online as well with other people if you don't feel like playing alone. This is a nice side mode to have around after you're done with the campaign to play for a hour or two. Downloadable missions are coming down the line though if you're itching for more action as you can 100% the campaign in more than 20 hours as doing the story missions themselves are not that long to beat.

Graphically, Saints Row: The Third looks great as the city of Steelport feels like there are tons of things going on. Pedestrians are everywhere if you want to mess around with them. The downtown area is filled with skyscrapers and big electronic billboards of the Saints' products and themselves. The city seems big enough to me to explore and go nuts on the streets, on boat, or on the air with a VTOL jet. I also dig the game's ragdoll physics as surely crazy stuff regarding that in action will happen at some point. The framerate does hitch below 30 frames per second at times especially when things get hectic on screen and there are bound to be various glitches in an open world like this, but nothing I experienced was game breaking. The sounds in this game though are amazing. I really liked the voice acting in the storyline as the characters' personalities really shined there. Your character's main voice has six options, which are three male and three female, and most of them sound fine. The soundtrack though is special especially on how its used. The right songs get played during specific story missions and memorable moments like Kanye West's "Power" when jumping from a helicopter to a penthouse. Of course, you have your radio stations with various genres of music like hip-hop, reggaeton, electronic, and heavy metal. Then there's the 80/90s hits station, my personal favorite, as the characters sing out Sublime's "What I Got" at one point of the game.

Even though Saints Row: The Third doesn't offer anything new to the table in the open world action genre, but this does set a new bar on open world games in general by having a memorable story filled with unexpected twists, lovable characters and personalities, and enough crazy fun toys to play around with in a big city. I always thought that the Saints Row franchise kept what is now missing in the Grand Theft Auto series, which is the absurdity and insanity factor (shock value in general). As GTA continues to head on the serious direction, Saints Row keep things jolly and crazy, but it makes sense in terms of Volition's direction for the franchise. While not perfect with some technical issues, Saints Row: The Third is as good as its gets when it comes to open world games.

Score = 9/10

  • The best campaign I played in terms of open world games
  • Great use of the soundtrack especially in certain story missions
  • Lovable characters and personalities
  • Plenty of side missions/activities to get done for the 100%
  • Crazy fun toys to mess around with in Steelport
  • Whored Mode is a fun take on the wave-based survival mode
  • Various technical issues such as framerate hitches and open world glitches
  • Activities, vehicle thefts, and assassinations become too much a grind to 100%