Saints Row: The Third Remastered (PS4) Review

Everyone has their favourite Saints Row title, some prefer the more serious tone of the first two games, others enjoy the wacky and over-the-top superhuman powers in Saints Row 4 and Gat out of Hell. For me, Saints Row: The Third struck the perfect balance between serious grounded combat and insane events via fun side activities and a humorous narrative. So, when Deep Silver and Sperasoft Studio announced they were remastering this nine-year-old classic, it instantly became one of my most anticipated titles of 2020.

Unlike the recent Saints row 3 and 4 ports on the Nintendo Switch, Saints Row: The Third Remastered isn’t simply a port of an existing version, the game has undergone a number of visual changes whilst leaving the core mechanics intact – similar to Outcast: Second Contact. As such, even though I’ve completed the game previously on both the Xbox 360 and the PC, this new edition felt fresh and ‘new’ despite ultimately being the same game from 2011. However, I wasn’t the biggest fan for every change made to the game, and the entire experience wasn’t quite as ‘stable’ as I’d hoped.

Having been the first person worldwide to platinum this new version of the game, let’s take a look and see if it’s as good as I remember it being or if my nostalgia for the title clouded my memories…

Saints Row The Third Remastered 1

It’s not the size that matters, it’s what you do with it!

Saints Row: The Third takes place five years after the events of the second game, although no prior knowledge is required to understand and follow this particular title. The 3rd Street Saints, our protagonists’ gang, has moved on from petty crime and turf wars in favour of becoming their own brand, a media and consumer organisation which advertises products and appears in movies. As such, whilst promoting their latest film, they opt for some guerilla advertising as they literally rob a bank, a strategy which wasn’t well thought out as it results in the team getting arrested.

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After pissing off the head of Syndicate, an international criminal enterprise, our protagonist, Boss, and Shaundi find themselves stranded in Steelport, a large city which is run by three gangs. However, in order for them to escape, one of the team sacrifices their life, thus creating a desire for revenge within those who remain. So, once you’re within the city and backup has arrived, it’s time to both take over this new city and kill the bastard responsible for your colleague’s death. 

Taking around 35 hours to platinum the game and all of its DLCs, Saints Row: The Third Remastered offers a comedic alternative to the more serious GTA series, not taking itself seriously at any point. 

Saints Row The Third Remastered 2

Whoops, my finger slipped!

Gameplay
Anyone who is familiar with GTA, sleeping Dogs, or other Saints Row games will know exactly what to expect here. You’re free to move between the numerous islands the city is made up of, exploring every street and alley for new shops, events, activities, and cool new cars to steal borrow. Your goal is to complete the story by answering your phone and completing every mission your teammates have for you, some missions will progress the story and some will unlock unique events within the city. Although you can rush through the story, should you choose to do so, it’s best to take your time and increase your overall presence as you go.

Almost everything you do within Saints Row: The Third Remastered grants you money and experience (respect), both of which can be used to upgrade and purchase weapons and obtain various abilities and boosts for your character. Not only can you unlock standard things such as more health, bigger clips, and less damage from certain attacks, but you can also unlock unlimited ammo, explosive bullets, dual wielding, and even new vehicles for your called-in homies to use, such as helicopters and fighter jets! 

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Also, once you’ve started taking over the city, by completing activities, buying buildings, and taking down rival gangs, you’ll begin to see your crew wandering around the street. Simply honk your horn and watch as they run into your vehicle and join you on your quest! This process becomes even more fun when you unlock a bunch of new costumes and designs, allowing you to basically choose what your homies look like as they walk the streets – mine were aliens and ninjas.

Saints Row The Third Remastered 3

Naaaa; na na na na na naaa, na na na, na na naaaaa!

Activities and diversions
Saints Row: The Third Remastered has a bunch of side activities to take part in, each one first unlocked via a call on your phone, but subsequent rounds are unlocked once you beat the one that’s on your map. Although some of these events are lots of fun and been used in a few of the Saints Row titles, there’s, unfortunately, no ‘muck spreading’ activity – a mini-game where you spray crap on peoples’ houses. So, what events do we have?

Activities

Guardian Angel: You’re in a helicopter with a rocket launcher, you must protect your homie by taking out any enemies which are chasing them.
Professor Genki’s Super Ethical Reality Climax: Professor Genki is a big-headed cat-man. You need to work through short assault courses whilst shooting mascots and smashing signs for bonus money and time.
Tank Mayhem: Exactly what you think it is, you drive a tank and cause as much damage as you can.
Escort: Driving people around the city whilst avoiding the press and doing as they ask (like running over certain people).
Tiger Escort: Same as the above, only you have a tiger in your car which randomly attacks and causes you to swerve!
Heli Assault: Similar to Guardian Angel, only you’re piloting the helicopter this time, using the onboard guns to take out the enemies.
Insurance Fraud: The best minigame ever! You need to jump in front of cars and trucks in order to amass the most money due to how many bones you break.
Mayhem: Simple, make as much damage as you can within a time limit.
Snatch: Save homies from being held captive and then return them before the time runs out or they get killed.
Trafficking: Your homie is making some totally ‘legal’ deals with you as a passenger – you have to protect him at all times.
Trail Blazing: Racing around the city on a vehicle which is on fire. Smashing into cars and people gives you more time.
Cyber Blazing: It’s like Trail Blazing but it’s all ‘cyber’ like Tron.

Seeing as Saints Row: The Third Remastered contains all of the DLC as well, you also have access to the new Genkibowl activities, these include:

Apocalypse Genki: The same as the Super Ethical Reality Climax game, only based in a jungle with man-eating sharks.
Sad Panda Skyblazing: Don a panda costume as you fly through the sky, bouncing on giant balloons as you take out mascots and fly through hoops.
Sexy Kitten Yarngasm: Crush as many things as you can with a giant ball of yarn – think Katamari!
Super Ethical PR Opportunity: Basically the same as Escort only your passenger is Professor Genki (and he likes it when you run people over). 

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When you’re not completing the story missions, driving around, trying to beat the many different activities, or dressing up your protagonist in the clothing shops, what else will you be doing? Aside from the above activities, there are also another bunch of events known as ‘diversions’, side-minigames which aren’t to do with the story (unlike the above items). These are:

Diversions

Assassinations: A list of people for you to find and kill. You’re given a clue as to where they are and what they look like, as well as how to make them appear.
Vehicle Theft: Simply perform Grand Theft Auto and steal a car then return it to your dealer.
Challenges: A list of goals to work towards, giving you something to do if you’re just looking to mess around.
Gang Operations: Each city sector has a few territories taken over by a gang, simply beat the crap out of them and take over it.
Collectables: There are 80 collectables hidden all over the place, money, drugs, and blow-up dolls. These are much easier to find once you have the collectable finder.
Survival: As you play the game, you’ll get random phone calls which tell you of an event which is happening. Simply go there and protect or destroy as per the call.
Vehicle surfing: Jump on the roof of any vehicle and start surfing as the NPC drives you around! You can even do it via a handstand.
Base Jumping: When parachuting off a tall building, you can ask for a random landing zone to appear – land in it and earn rewards.
Streaking: Get naked and streak around the city by flashing your naughty bits are random passersby. 
Store hold-ups: You can rob any store, including those you own, by raising your gun at the owners face.
Hostage: Jump into a car with a person in the passenger seat and you can hold them hostage as you drive around like a mad man.
Store Ownership: You can buy various stores and buildings in order to generate a discount and increase the amount of residual income you get every hour.
City Takedown: Paint the city purple as you conquer each segment of Steelport via completing activities and events.

Multiplayer
Saints Row: The Third Remastered can be played either on your own or with another player online. The full game is playable in co-op, with a bonus Cat and Mouse activity only appearing if you’re with another person. Also, there’s a ‘Whored Mode’ on the main menu which is, if you’ve not guessed it, a Hoard Mode in which you have to stay alive as long as you can against the zombies. This is also playable in one or two-player.

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Don’t mind me…

Personal Thoughts
Saints Row: The Third Remastered has always been my favourite Saints Row title, followed closely by Saints Row 2, due to the crazy events and more realistic combat. Okay, the game itself isn’t realistic at all, you drive a car which shoots out people, you purposely break every bone in your body for money, and you can make your character look like the living dead (with included ‘zombie’ voice), but at least it’s not like Saints Row IV… In that game, which I reviewed on the Switch HERE, you’re in a Matrix-like simulation of Steelport, so you have superhuman powers and abilities which allow you to fly, run super-fast, throw people for miles, and more. It sounds like a great time, but it removes quite a bit of fun out of the game. 

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This game keeps you grounded, forcing you to drive cars for quick transport (as there’s no fast travel), summon helicopters to reach the roof of buildings, make use of boats when travelling on water, and forcefully jumping into every single car as you kick the original owner out with ease. For me, this is so much better than being able to jump hundreds of feet and run up the side of walls, it immerses you and makes the game seem more relatable than the later titles. 

The story is fun and contains a lot of very silly moments, such as breaking out a massive naked Russian guy who has no problem running around with his pixelated partner on display. The side activities are all very unique and offer a great diversion from the main story as well, giving you a fun way to increase your money and experience whilst also subconsciously getting better at the various mechanics such as flying and staying alive whilst under heavy fire. 

The extra DLC included also further expands the story with a few new mini-campaigns and the Professor Genki minigames. I think these added about 5-6 hours onto my overall gameplay. In terms of the platinum, it’s quite easy with only a few trophies being a bit of a pain to earn. I never had any issues getting mine to register but some people are saying that if you put your PS4 in rest mode, it won’t unlock any. So, until a patch is released, save often and close the game then re-load if you use rest mode.

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Cool guys don’t look at explosions…

Remaster Effects
So, what do I think of the actual ‘remaster’ as a whole? Visually, it’s like a whole new game! Well, not quite, but there are a lot of changes over the original game even though a number of reviews on day-one seemed to think the two were identical (they’re not). First of all, Saints Row: The Third Remastered on the PS4 is now 60GB in size, this is due to all the new assets and HQ textures which are being used – in comparison, the original PC version was around 10GB. Pretty much every single item, wall, floor, character, weapon, and vehicle has been remade/drawn, which you notice immediately.

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On top of this, the lighting has been enhanced, offering much brighter days with dynamic shadows and darker nights with dynamic car lights, and there has been a number of other smaller visual enhancements such as shadows, motion blur and a film grain effect. You can, if you wish, turn off the motion blur and film grain from the menu – I actually found the performance increasing slightly when I did. 

In terms of the resolution and framerate, the base PS4 and Xbox One are 1080p (the Xbox is dynamic down to 900p) and the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X are 1440p. Also, what I presume is a result of the people who complained when the game was announced as 30fps, there is a toggle to enable or remove the framerate cap. If playing on the base consoles, I’d advised leaving it locked at 30fps but the enhanced consoles are much better. The PS4 Pro performs at around 50fps for most of the game, with some dips when it’s quite intense, and the Xbox One X is around 60fps with similar dips. The game also supports HDR which I had a few issues with but the latest patch helped fixed some of them.

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I’m getting flashbacks to the Battlefield 3 BETA!

Quirky moments and issues
So, all-in-all, this is a great remaster. It’s not simply a port of the PC version, it has new textures, it’s got an enhanced frame rate and resolution, and it even supports HDR. But, not everything is great.

First of all, they have redesigned a lot of the main characters, making them unrecognisable to their original models. I really don’t like the new Johnny Gat and Pierce, they just don’t look ‘right’. The others look fine though, although after just playing Saints Row 4, I’m not sure why they made everyone look different. There’s also a fair amount of glitches in the game, such as enemies getting stuck in the ground when shot with explosives, and pedestrians spawning on top of cars which are in motion! But, these are all funny and not game-breaking.

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Also, there’s a lot of pop-in within the game, cars and civilians will pop up quite sporadically as you drive around the city at fast speeds. It’s not a major issue unless you’re being chased, as failing due to hitting a vehicle which wasn’t there a moment ago is very unfair, but it is noticeable and something which shouldn’t really be within a remaster. There is also an invisible prison – DON’T summon a helicopter whilst inside the crib in the top left of the map. If you do, you’ll be placed under the floor in a room with invisible walls (My crib was fully upgraded so may only happen once you’ve done that?). It has been reported and should be patched soon though.

Finally, although the HDR has had a few tweaks since pre-release, I still feel it’s a little off. It’s very dark at night and very bright during the day – I personally prefered playing the game with HDR turned off. Thankfully, the devs fixed an issue I had where the brightness would keep auto-adjusting itself, but I can’t seem to get it perfect. My reason for this is that you have a bunch of HDR options which I’ve not seen before, yet there’s no coloured image showing you what the various sliders change – so you can’t see the result you’re going to get. Give us an image that shows the changes and I’m sure everyone would be grateful.

Official Trailer

Final Conclusion:
Saints Row: The Third Remastered is one of the best remasters in recent years, completely overhauling the visuals and performance. Almost everything has been updated and upgraded bar the engine underneath, a similar concept we saw with Outcast: Second Contact. The game is a mindless mayhem sandbox with a bunch of missions and crazy activities to work your way through at your own pace, offering tonnes of fun either playing on your own or with another player. The game was fun back in 2011, offering crazy non-serious GTA-style gameplay, and it’s just as fun playing it now, in 2020.

Saints Row: The Third Remastered

£34.99
8.5

Final Score

8.5/10

The Good:

  • - Every single texture has been updated and some characters are full re-modelled
  • - Lots of new visual effects, lighting, HDR, and a bump in the resolution and framerates
  • - Interesting story with a bunch of side missions and diversions to keep you busy for hours, as well as the Whored mode and full co-op capabilities
  • - Very funny and immature
  • - Contains all previous DLC with nothing removed

The Bad:

  • - Although the devs have altered the HDR, it still feels a little 'off'
  • - There's alot of pop-in, people spawning on the roof of cars, and enemies getting literally blasted into the ground (all very funny)
  • - Some people have had issues with trophies if they've used the Rest Mode on their PS4
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