Nine years since its release, Saints Row The Third has received the full remaster treatment. It was Volition’s last entry into the series that is arguably considered “grounded,” as after that, it became too wacky and far-fetched for my personal tastes. However, I always liked Saints Row The Third. It provided a fun open-world crime sandbox divided into several territories that you could conquer one step at a time. All by acquiring new businesses, gunning down adversaries or completing various activities using some of the game’s more creative vehicles and weapons. There’s even a dildo sword, if that’s your thing and a tiger motorbike that leaves behind a trail of scorching hot fire. This one is certain to drive fear into anyone who dares witness it.
In addition to its base game content, Saints Row The Third Remastered features all post-launch downloadable add-ons, which includes more than 30 pieces of unique content. All the extra missions, weapons and vehicles are here – and they look better than ever before. Sperasoft is the team behind this remaster, and it’s fair to say they’ve gone all out for it. From a visual perspective, the game has been overhauled. Every weapon is remodelled, the cars are redesigned and most of the city has been retextured – giving Saints Row The Third the makeover it deserves.
According to the developer, some 4,000 assets were reworked to transform its environments, character models and visual effects. It has even incorporated a brand-new lighting engine. As I played through Saints Row The Third on PC, I almost forgot that this game was first released in 2011. The only aspect of it that feels dated are the animations, which is especially noticeable in the cinematics with some obvious clipping and facial movement that appears off compared to the updated models. The lip-sync is especially bad, though that rounds off the list of visual issues I could find. Everything else about this remaster shows how an old classic can be made into a modern-day hit with all the bells and whistles you’d expect.
Set in the city of Steelport, relatively small by today’s standards, the Saints have never looked so good. With the use of global illumination, high-resolution textures and increased levels of traffic, pedestrians and draw distances, Saints Row The Third looks exceptionally good in this remaster. The list of new graphical enhancements is just endless. Volumetric fog has been implemented, there’s now anti-aliasing to alleviate those rough edges, the sky has increased levels of detail and supports HDR lighting – a neat upgrade that future-proofs this remaster, and vehicles feature a much higher polygon count than before, with realistic shaders added and increased geometrical complexity. This also applies to car mods too, many of which have been redone and given more realistic proportions. Various particle effects such as smoke, fire, explosions and gunfire have all been upgraded too and as a result, they look sublime.
All in all, it really is the perfect Saints Row package – especially on PC, in which those framerates can be cranked all the way to 100fps and beyond, depending on your specs, graphical settings and of course, whatever is happening on-screen. But in my case, I had the all the visual options maxed out at 1440p on a build using an RTX 2080 Super with a Ryzen 7 3800X and the results were superb. It ran brilliantly and never did it drop below the 80fps mark, despite all the explosive chaos I got up to during my time in Steelport. It made for quite a pleasant surprise, as I didn’t expect it to run this well. It's worth noting though that VSync only applies to gameplay, so expect some screen-tearing in cinematics if your framerate is unlocked.
However, on console, this area does disappoint as the game remains locked to 30fps, but it does support up to 4K resolution. So, if you do care about performance, then I’d recommend the PC version as based on my testing, it’s a well-optimized release with plenty of configurable options so you can fine-tune it to your liking. Just be warned, there is no borderless window setting, but I’ll forgive it considering the core technology powering the game is probably extremely dated – which makes all the graphical advancements it boasts quite a remarkable feat.
One upgrade that surprised me is the increased density of traffic and pedestrians. The streets are piled-up with cars and there’s also a lot of variety, ensuring there isn’t a shortage of vehicles for you to steal, customize and save at your garage. I miss being able to acquire new rides this way instead of grinding endlessly for them in other, similar games, so I appreciate the nostalgic trip. Meanwhile, the footpaths are usually crowded with pedestrians, oftentimes they’ll ask you for a photo or will be doing various routine activities. They aren’t the most detailed, but it’s a plausible effort, nonetheless. As for the enemies in combat, they aren’t the smartest and your character, who is customizable upon finishing the prologue, can take umpteen bullets as if it’s nothing.
The controls and gunplay are also straightforward, and I had no issues adapting to either. Put simply, you’re not going to struggle with any aspect of the game, it’s probably one of the most accessible in its genre too, as objectives are clearly explained and everything else is appropriately labelled. The only area that I find myself getting lost in are the customization menus. There are so many options for personalizing your character, it’s almost too much – but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Your appearance can be altered in a countless number of unique ways, from a myriad of clothing options – all with a colour picker, to adjusting facial features and overall body structure by visiting a plastic surgeon. All there so you can make your badass gangster standout from the rest of the hoodlums.
With that said, I really enjoy Saints Row The Third. You’re made out to be a prestige member of a mob-like street gang at the height of their power. Everyone adores you and merchandise stores dedicated to the Third Street Saints scatter the city-streets. It’s amusing, albeit a little silly – but compared to its predecessor, it remains somewhat true to the core of the franchise. Most of the missions lean towards the crazier side of things and include taking a tank sky-diving, calling in satellite-targeted airstrikes on a Mexican wrestling gang and fighting against a highly-trained military force using all the tools at your disposal. There's even one that sees you spraying enemies from the unusual comforts of a human-led carriage! The mission design is relatively open-ended, so there’s little to restrict you, and best of all, it can be experienced with a friend in co-op – just as every game of this kind should be.
There’s just so much to get stuck into in Saints Row The Third. I’ll hand it to Volition; this is a great game and the folks at Sperasoft have truly modernized it. Seriously, what other game lets you humiliate your foes using human cannonball cars or outrageous dildo melee weapons? Where else can I tackle enemies using hover jets whilst dressed as a naked sumo pirate? The genre of open-world crime sandboxes that feature cars, boats and aircraft is one that lacks competition, especially in the industry of today. But with the Saints back on the streets, hopefully it’s one that’s about to heat up relatively soon.
Should you decide to buy it or not, Saints Row The Third Remastered benefits all fans who share an interest in this genre, and paves the way forward for the next Saints Row game. I just hope that it takes the series back to its core roots – one drowned in sex, drugs and guns with gang-life, not superheroes, front and centre. One thing is for sure though, it’ll be a looker considering the visual accomplishments of this stylish remaster. Now, forgive me as I conclude this review, but I’m too busy dismantling the evil Syndicate and their stranglehold hold on weapons, cybercrime and criminal rackets in a city that’s rightfully mine and that of the Third Street Saints, no one else’s.
Alan is the co-founder and co-owner of FullThrottle Media. As someone who enjoys spending all his free time playing video games, he keeps the website updated with new and relevant content, including news stories, reviews and opinion pieces for the games he likes writing about the most. He also tweets too much, probably.