Yes, I know, it has dildo bats and treats women like objects and maybe leans a bit too hard on gags aimed squarely at Fratty McKegbeer, but look just beneath the surface and you'll find a game that loves and respects its player.
Saints Row: The Third plays fast and loose with the standards of good taste, but it's never willing to be reckless with your time.
It would be far easier to make my case by highlighting specific moments, but the last thing I'd want to do is ruin all the numerous high points. Instead, I'll sacrifice just one which, while it was the moment the game cemented its spot in my heart, may be kind of a throwaway gag to most.
Your unnamed thug must rescue a member of the Saints gang from a house of ill repute. (That member just happens to be a pimp named Zimos who speaks only in auto-tune, but that's not even the gag.)
This would already be classified as one of the most bizarre gaming moments of 2011, but therein lies the genius of Saints Row: The Third. It goes further. Because when you shoot the chariots they, inexplicably, explode in a ball of flame so large you'd be forgiven for thinking the they were powered by gasoline and dynamite rather than ball-gagged submissives.
With the third in its flagship series, Volition doesn't want to show you something you've never seen. That's easy. Volition wants to show you something that's so insane, so specific and indelible to Saints Row: The Third that you'll never see it again.
Joystiq is revealing its 10 favorite games of 2011 throughout the week. Keep reading for more top selections and every writer's personal, impassioned picks in Best of the Rest roundups. The list so far:
- Saints Row: The Third
- Shadows of the Damned
- Dark Souls
- Gears of War 3
- Mortal Kombat