I’ve come to the conclusion that the highest compliment I can give a game is not to show pictures of its amazing graphics or discuss its amazing storyline or talk about the various character ability trees it makes available… it’s to sit down and play the game from start to finish. (Well, not the *HIGHEST* compliment… the highest compliment is to start it over again after the credits roll… but, still, a pretty high compliment.)

There are a number of games that I absolutely adored but found myself stressed out playing them (LA Noire, specifically when you go to a house to report to a guy that his wife has been murdered and you step over a tricycle to get to the door… I had to put the controller down and it took me a couple of days to pick it back up) or frustrated at the forced stupidity “required” by the storyline (Deus Ex, specifically the creation of a truly stealthy character… WHO WALKS DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE HALLWAY IN CUT SCENES??? BRAVO SIERRA, DUDES!!!).

If I can sit down and play a game and, yes, beat it then that says something about the game that all the technical accomplishments in the world won’t communicate.

All that to say: I beat Saint’s Row: The Third.

Now, I’m not particularly *PROUD* of having done so. The storyline is… well… to call it “over the top” wouldn’t do justice. We’re well within “crossing the line twice” territory. Some might say we’re in “tap dancing on top of the line” territory (we’re not… but some would say that). It’s a videogame sequel to a sequel to a game that carved out its own sandboxy Grand Theft Auto feel but, seriously, they’re not really the same kind of games at all.

Playing Grand Theft Auto IV, for example, I got the feeling that, underneath everything, the writers were trying to say something about War and what it does to the people who survive it.

Saints Row? Well, here’s a scene from the first 20 minutes. You’re parachuting and holding your comrade after jumping out of a cargo plane that you’ve just escaped. The plane then wheels around and it’s going to ram you. So you tell your comrade that you’re going to drop her, shoot out the windshield of the plane, run through it, find another parachute, jump out of the plane *AGAIN*, and then catch her again.

And then you proceed to do just that.

That’s one of the more or less safe for work things you do in the game. There are a *LOT* of things that happen that, erm, aren’t. Why worry about that, though? It’s too cool, too stupid, too awesome, too over the top. There’s no real moral to the story, no redeeming social value… it’s just a fun romp with fun missions driving fun vehicles and blowing up fun explosions. Don’t play it around the kids but, after they’ve gone to bed? You’ll find that it’s one heck of an effective way to wind down. More to the point? You may even find yourself playing to the end and seeing the credits roll.

So that’s my recommendation for you this week.


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to


  1. It isn’t just jumping the shark, it’s jumping the shark on a rocket-powered luge sled and doing a barrel roll in midair and chugging a Mountain Dew on the way down and the shark is also flying after you with its own rockets and it’s on fire.

    • That would depend on The Fourth, I suppose.

      The wacky thing is that Saints Row managed to put out a story that was amoral in its discussion of violence with a handful of comedic moments. Saints Row II was more like Scarface in its seriousness/violence.

      Saints Row III abandoned the seriousness (while keeping the violence).

      • I was just going to say something about that but there were some moments in SRII (I don’t have 2 yet) where I was kinda impressed with the narrative. The scenes at the grave side for example, both in how Gat carries himself but also in how “the main character” spends most of it standing turned away and letting Gat fight his own fight.

        Or after your comrade is dragged around a bit… it wasn’t just the violence of that moment but the simple cinematography; the choice of what to show and just as importantly what not to show.

        • The scene where the opposition gang got their hands on your protégé? Oh, golly. After that scene reached its climax, I knew “Hell’s comin'” and it was going to be bad.

          Bad bad.

          The Third never grabbed me like that scene did. (Though, to be sure, it also didn’t stress me out the way that that scene did.)

    • > … and the shark is also flying after you with
      > its own rockets and it’s on fire.

      That’s a spectacular mental image, right there.

  2. “when you go to a house to report to a guy that his wife has been murdered and you step over a tricycle to get to the door…the creation of a truly stealthy character…WHO WALKS DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE HALLWAY IN CUT SCENES???”

    While I get the common feature that both of these can make you want to put down a game you’re otherwise enjoying, I would draw a distinction between those things. I wouldn’t want to discourage game designers from excluding emotionally affecting scenes, whereas if cut scene induced stupidity would die we’d all be better off.

    And with that in mind, by all means I recommend Saint’s Row 3 as a fun romp. But if you haven’t played Saint’s Row 2, I recommend that even more.

    • Oh, absolutely. I mean, it strikes me that Heavy Rain is a great game that I very much want to play… except that I freak out waaaay too easily. This is a problem with me and not the game.

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