Saints Row The Third review

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Saints Row The Third review

Postby ADMIN » Sat Oct 06, 2012 3:27 am

I've been playing Saints Row 3

Or rather I haven't

Instead, I've been walking the city.

I walk. I don't engage the sprint button, this slows down progress but I look at things. This is a wondrously constructed city. Colurful, vibrant and alive. I don't hijack vehicles. Instead I walk. i have a baseball cap pulled down close, aviator glasses on (even at night) and dark clothing, including jacket and dark gloves, head down, unnoticeable.
I like walking best at night.

The amazing advances in portraying digital metropolitan life have been truly astonishing these last 5-6 years. It really is something unique. At what point in history could the average person buy an interactive model of a city and just walk its streets? It's astonishing. From the modern metropoli of GTA4 to the bygone eras portayed in Mafia 2, these are spectacular multi million dollar constructions and amazing digital confections.

And yet we don't care. Indeed the games encourage us to rush past all these details on our way to the next mission. And then it's on to the next AAA game.

This is the tragedy of open world urban video games. All these scenes, all these small vignettes either procedurally created or deliberately placed by anonymous artists working till late at night. The art of placing crumbling apartment blocks so that they appear natural. sweating over digital pallettes to get the details looking authentic - are neither appreciated by the beancounters upstairs or are ignored by the average player on his or her's frantic rush to get to the next mission.

I think this is wrong. We should notice more.


The phone keeps on ringing but I just want to walk. I don't want to talk to these people. i have a 'crib' uptown but the assholes there just stand around eating my food and gesticulating at empty space. When they call, they just want me to do ugly, ugly things for them. I can't even talk to them though I might be standing right in front of them. I feel more at home walking the streets.

People insult me on the street, perfect strangers flip me the bird, but it doesn't matter. I'm a nobody and such language is the common currency. I know I could do all sorts of awfulness upon them but it would break the mood. So I walk on, unperturbed.

I don't toggle the run button (except to get across busy intersections), I just walk. I'm an anonymous avatar in this enormous digital hive. i like this. People wander past and make ridiculous statements about their relationships, what they're planning this evening or they make crass observations on the attractiveness of someone they've just seen. Traffic accidents happen regularly. It's a cruel world. I accept this as the pulse of the city. I know the near naked female figure sashaying by is one of the reasons why video games are seen as puerile by the wider media world, and they're right, but there's still interesting spaces to be explored here. A feeling to be felt. I wander past delapidated buildings and chainlink fences. An artist built these. Maybe several. As our real landscape is shaped by unseen architects, builders and engineers, so this landscape is constructed by invisible artisans. That's important - somebody should notice.

The phone rings again. I ignore it. Instead I see someone across the street who wants to take my picture. I allow this and the game rewards me with money and tells me there are 18 pictures or whatever left to collect. I don't care about 'collecting' all of these. Why would I? They're not real - this world is a dream. But I do feel appreciation that the game has recognised my urban exploration and responded, at least in a low key way.

In fact my urban sojourns derive a good deal of flavour from not being what the game expects of me. If SR3 was a game about urban exploration, would I do this? Probably not. This is an act of rebellion. I feel I have created my own space within the game and that is a large part to my enjoyment of walking Steelport's streets. I have defined my own appearance and I have defined my own behaviour in spite of the game designers, or so I like to think. I have found the quiet corners in the game despite their designs and they are the more precious as a result.

But I know that if I want to progress, sooner or later I'm going to have to perform the garish, violent tasks the designers intend me to do. Maybe I won't. At the end of the day, that's my choice. But I probably will. But I suspect it will be my time walking the streets that will stay with me longer.

I wonder if Sleeping Dogs will allow me to walk its Hong Kong streets in similar fashion?
'I only have one rule. Everyone codes, no-one quits. You don't finish your game, I'll shoot you myself.'
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Re: Saints Row The Third review

Postby Arsanthania » Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:50 pm

That was beautiful. I have no other way to describe that's just...beautiful.

I agree, there is much to much effort put into the stylistic realm of most games that goes unnoticed, especially in the urban environments, as you have said.

I do this occasionally when I can, just to see what the game artists and developers put into the game, and It's usually interesting to see all of the details.

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