Saints Row: The Third Remastered is a mediocre port of one of the best games from the last generation.
Saints Row: The Third is, in many ways, the best Fast & Furious game ever made. Granted, that’s not a high bar to cross. At least until Fast & Furious Crossroads finally comes out. However, both franchises share quite a few similarities that make them excellent. Both are unabashedly bombastic, providing first act spectacle that any other game or movie would save for the climax. Saints Row and F&F know they have so much more left in the tank that they aren’t afraid to hit you with the good stuff early.
Both franchises are also perfectly fine being silly. Saints Row definitely goes further down that route, but scenes like the Oscar-worthy “ejecto seato cuz” would translate seamlessly. I mean, Roman Pearce is basically a Saints Row character, to be honest. Heck, they even both have offshoots that are terrible representations of what makes the franchises great. I’m looking at you, Agents of Mayhem and Hobbs & Shaw.
Most importantly, both series are all about family. The over-the-top stunts are going to be the biggest talking point, but seeing a ragtag group of criminals come together as a family is what these games and movies are all about.
I say all this not just because I love to talk about Fast & Furious. Certainly, that’s part of it, but mostly, it’s just to illustrate that Saints Row isn’t just about explosions and sex dolls. It’s a series with heart and characters that you come to care about over the course of the series. And Saints Row: The Third is, by far, the best game in the franchise. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it was the best game released in 2011. Sorry, Skyrim.
But what about the Remaster? In 2020, we’ve already seen one of the most beloved games of all time get an absolutely dreadful remake in Warcraft 3: Remastered. We’ve also seen how great remasters can be in this generation with games like Bluepoint’s Shadow of the Colossus. Where does Saints Row: The Third Remastered fall in that line graph of garbage to genuinely great?
The short answer is, somewhere in the middle. Make no mistake, Saints Row: The Third is still a great game. If you’re talking fun per minute in open-world games, SR3 is one of the best. The missions are bonkers, the open-world activities are generally awesome, and the characters are just such loveable assholes. Even that doofus Pierce.
This is a game that goes from gigantic gang warfare to singing a duet of “What I Got” by Sublime to murderous wrestling matches to a full-scale zombie invasion without batting an eye. It’s ridiculous excess at its absolute best. There just aren’t many other games that embrace fun in the same way SR3 does, and even in 2020, I couldn’t put it down.
That being said, most of that is just what was present in the original game. And, even though it’s a good time, much of it feels dated. For example, there’s no fast travel, which quickly becomes a pain when you’re trying to mop up activities and collectibles. The combat was fine at launch, but time has not been kind. I would still call it serviceable at worst, but if you’re looking for a cutting-edge third-person shooter, this ain’t it. Weirdly, I still find the driving pretty fun for a non-driving game. It’s not replacing Forza anytime soon, but it gets the job done.
The real problem is that the remaster seems like the most basic job you could possibly do. I’m sure the game technically looks better, but I didn’t really notice much. I also don’t remember Saints Row: The Third being this full of bugs and glitches, though maybe I’m viewing that through purple-tinted glasses. Certainly, the jank was there, but the remaster has either done nothing to fix it or made it worse. Either of which seems like a big negative given the game is almost a decade old.
For the most part, these bugs weren’t game-breaking. Commonly, I would try to hop into a car or on a motorcycle, and then the vehicle would get stuck in the road. Sometimes this would result in me taking a bunch of damage. Other times, I would just have to hop off and find a new bike. That one got eaten by whatever weird cement god was plaguing my gameplay. There were also some odd lighting glitches in places, and don’t even try to fly at night. You literally can’t see anything except for vague outlines of buildings with the draw distance being so low.
Again, did any of these truly harm my playing experience? Not really. It’s annoying, sure. And I could easily see it upsetting others way more than me. However, outside of one hard crash, the bugs felt like an extra helping of Bethesda open-world jank thrown into my Saints Row game.
At the end of the day, I would only really recommend the SR3 remaster if you didn’t play the original. I just don’t think the additions are worth sullying your memories with a less than stellar remaster. Don’t get me wrong, the core Saints Row experience is very much still a Saints’ Flow-soaked treat. It’s just a treat that was perhaps better left as a memory if this was all they wanted to do with it.
The big positive, at least for me, is that running around Steelport with my Homies again has me more than excited for whatever Saints Row 5 ends up being. They lost the plot a bit with Saints Row 4, but I’m hopeful that, much like the great Han Seoul-Oh, SR5 can rise from the ashes as something greater.