Saints Row: The Third Remastered Review – The Saints are Back and Better Than Ever

    Title: Saints Row: The Third Remastered
    Developer: Sperasoft Studios
    Release Date: May 22, 2020
    Reviewed On: PS4
    Publisher: Deep Silver
    Genre: Action, Third-Person Shooter

We don’t seem to be seeing a decline in remastered video game releases, even as we approach the next console generation. It seems like every week, a title from our past makes a comeback with higher resolution and balances, though their quality ranges heavily. Where some go above and beyond to add new textures and additional content, others come across as just a simple port with no real work put into them.

Saints Row: The Third Remastered sits somewhere in between these two extremes. Originally released back in 2011, Saints Row: The Third is one of my favorite open-world games of all time. The game hasn’t aged the best graphically, but its hilarious story and fun mechanics have kept it in my memory for all these years. Imagine my surprise when Deep Silver announced an enhanced remaster coming to current-gen systems in a little less than a month.

To not let my expectations get the best of me, I stayed cautiously excited about the prospect of a remaster for what I consider to be the best game in the Saints Row series. Luckily, I’m happy to report that while the remaster isn’t perfect, it is the definitive way to experience Saints Row: The Third.

Saints Row: The Third Remastered takes place a few years after the events of Saints Row 2. The Third Street Saints have gone from cold-blooded gang to international celebrities with brand deals, comic books, and clothing lines in their names. When a bank heist goes wrong, the Boss, Shaundi, and Johnny Gat are all arrested.

The trio is bailed out by Phillipe Loren, leader of a multi-national crime organization known as the Syndicate. Loren attempts to take over the Saints by force, and when the Boss refuses, the Saints are dropped into the unfamiliar city of Steelport with all of their bank accounts completely scrubbed. The Saints vow to not only take down the Syndicate but also take control of Steelport in the process.

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Saints Row: The Third is where the series reached the perfect balance of realistic gangster violence and over-the-top absurdity. The series has always been less serious than most of its contemporaries, but the third game is where the developers seemed to fully lean into the absurd. For instance, in one scene, the gang will be mourning the loss of a friend and vowing revenge on their enemies, and in the next, they will be wielding dildo bats fighting off hoards of zombies. Surprisingly, the contrast between the two tones works incredibly well, with the story’s constant escalation always leaving me wondering what crazy thing would happen in the next mission.

Though the story and gameplay of the original Saints Row: The Third remain the same, Remastered gives the game a graphical overhaul. The Third Street Saints have never looked better; every main character has received a complete makeover. In some cases, characters (such as Pierce) look almost entirely different. These new character models are welcome additions to the game as the models from the 2011 release don’t look too hot today.

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The character models weren’t the only things to get a makeover, however. Each gun and vehicle model in Remastered has a brand new look and the results are amazing. No, the models don’t compare to those from a new Call of Duty game or those from Red Dead Redemption 2, but they’re a significant step up from the models in the other entries of the series.

The new graphical feature touted the most in the remaster’s marketing, however, is the brand new lighting system. This makes the entire world of Steelport come across as a new city and, for the most part, looks terrific. However, there are moments when it feels like the world is in a constant state of sunset or sunrise, as a yellow/orange tint covers everything. This can be a little annoying at times, but it certainly didn’t ruin my experience.

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While many parts of Saints Row: The Third were graphically overhauled, it is still clear why the game is called “Remastered” and not “Remake.” Many parts of Saints Row: The Third Remastered still feel incredibly dated. Random civilians and background characters seem to be untouched and look pretty bad when standing next to one of the main character’s new models.

Furthermore, small visual bugs run rampant through the entire experience. As cutscenes end and gameplay begins, it is common to see the Boss and any other characters on-screen pop into existence a split-second after they should. Pop is also prevalent while exploring the city at high speeds in vehicles. Even though the new character models look nice, it seems as if they were simply placed on top of the old model’s rigs, leading to some lip-sync errors. These hiccups aren’t game-breaking, but they do make it evident that you are still playing a game that is almost a decade old.

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Revisiting Saints Row: The Third was a blast. The gameplay holds up perfectly, with certain story set pieces being some of the most memorable I have ever played. As mentioned previously, one never really knows where a Saints Row mission will take them. One minute you’re jumping from plane to plane midair in a tank, and the next, you’re fighting a giant neon monster in a virtual world. These missions are a joy to play and hilarious to boot.

Steelport is filled with a ton of side content than can be explored outside of the main story. Activities such as Insurance Fraud and Tank Mayhem are addicting ways to pass the time, while others such as Guardian Angel or Tiger Escort are a little more trouble than their worth. Still, these side activities are fun distractions from the main campaign and will most likely leave players with a ton of things to do in the post-game.

Saints Row: The Third Remastered includes all of the original game’s DLC, meaning there are over 30 pieces of DLC accessible from the beginning of the game. While most of these are cosmetics, three-story DLCs are included. These can be played from the very beginning of the game, though I recommend playing them after the events of the main story. I should say that the DLC missions aren’t as fun as the main story, but they are a great addition that will keep players in the world of the Third Street Saints for a few more hours after the main story.

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Saints Row: The Third Remastered is the definitive way to play the best game in the Saints Row series. Running through the streets of Steeport has never looked better, but the game still manages to show its age in some areas. Regardless, the enhanced graphics, hilarious story, and timeless gameplay make this remaster worth checking out for long time fans or those who have never touched a Saints Row game in their life.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Jake Yoder

Lover of all things gaming, anime, film and theatre. Shonen anime/manga enthusiast.