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Purple Haze: Saints Row 3 The Trouble With Clones

↓, ↘, →, punch

Saints Row The Third’s third DLC pack was just released, detailing the further exploits of the Third Street Saints, this time with the foul creations of unhinged Science. When will people learn? The Trouble With Clones is the latest in Volition’s short-form content packs for the silliest excuse to have fun there is, keeping with the scifi B-movie themeing following last month’s groovy Gangstas in Space. I’ve got some brief thoughts below about the way Volition are treating DLC, as well as the new Clones trailer. It features purple superpowers.

edit: As Maltose says in the comments, Saints Row 3 and all the DLC is currently 50% off on GamersGate.

John’s review of the first big Saints Row 3 DLC, Genki Bowl VII, noted that it wasn’t really that big. A handful of events that could be dusted off in under two hours, complaints from fans that “it was too short” haven’t appeared to have been heard by Volition, as Gangstas in Space and The Trouble With Clones both have similar playtime lengths. In fact when I was playing them, they appeared to be even shorter, barely lasting an hour each.

All three mission packs will cost you £13 for essentially three hours of extra fun on the streets of Steelport, and when you think that double your money bought you a whole game’s worth of excitement, it’s hard not to feel short changed. According to Steam I’ve put 31 hours into Saints Row so far, but I haven’t regretted a single one yet – even, I’m keen to point out, the ones spent playing with the DLC.

Again, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before: there are run and gun sections, driving while shooting at aircraft sections, hanging out of a helicopter shooting a rocket launcher sections and flying what’s basically a reskinned VTOL sections. But crucially, I’m not bored of any of that yet, and chief amongst the reasons why is the writing, which is constant and consistently hilarious. One of the main sources of humour is the constant deadpan of the leader, straightman/woman to the chaos surrounding him/her, and his/her laconic commentary was sadly missing from Genki Bowl.

Of these two recent DLC, I’d say Gangstas in Space is the stronger, featuring as it does the leader of the Saints starring in a tacky sci-fi flick filmed on the very streets of Steelport, bystander bodycount from the Michael Bay pyrotechnics be damned. I laughed more in the single hour of Gangstas in Space than I’ve done playing a game for a long, long time – even since playing Saints Row 3 itself. The comedy is a constant flow of dialogue between the leader of the Saints either flubbing his/her lines ‘onset’, the pitched commentary from the director screaming for creative control or, the funniest, the terrible “film” actually shooting according to script with the hammiest acting seen outside of Miss Piggy. I’m now convinced the voice acting in Saints Row is the best since…I don’t know, Psychonauts seems like a good one to go for. The comedic timing and perfect delivery of very funny lines definitely makes me think back to Whispering Rock Summer Camp.

And something I’ve noticed after emerging from a week’s worth of Mass Effect 3 is that the cutscenes are just fantastic. The character animation is sharp and clear, a far cry from BioWare’s reliance on stiff, canned animation loops they’ve been mining since Dragon Age. The Saint’s facial animation is excellent at showing emotion and frequently subtle – at one point the boss raised her eyebrows with a light, mildly panicked nervous laugh through a forced grin, and all I could think about was that Mass Effect has absolutely nothing on this. Also, Mass Effect didn’t let me shoot swarms of bees at crowds of people at a gig, so there’s that.

The quality of it all isn’t in question, and that’s important, because without the leader of the Saints and the writing supporting the character, the sandbox wouldn’t be nearly as much fun. Genki Bowl proved that for me. So yes, apart from a couple of new toys it’s all stuff we’ve seen before, but it’s even funnier this time around, and how funny it is was the reason I wanted to play Saints Row in the first place. I’d be happier if the DLC lasted longer, and really, it’s too much to pay for the time spent, so waiting for a sale would seem prudent. But once back on the streets, I was completely happy enjoying the high standard of writing and performance on offer, raising the casual violence above the base level it should really be at.

That being said, the superpowers unlocked at the height of The Trouble With Clones through being exposed to some irradiated Saints Flow, the Saint’s own branded sports drink, aren’t available to play with after the mission’s over. Come on, that’s an easy fix – just make cans of Flow available to buy as a special weapon from gun shops. Upgrading it could make the effects last longer, perhaps. Yeah, if I’ve one complaint about the DLC, it’s that the quest rewards are bafflingly stingy. This is the game that allowed you to buy God Mode, after all. There’s no reason to lock down ways to have fun after the mission’s over. That is what we’re here for, isn’t it?

The Season Pass DLC pack on Steam says it’ll cover three future mission packs. All three are now out, so the future of the Saints remains to be seen. I can’t help but think the cry that these DLC are too short is because spending time in this universe is so much fun. Well, as long as any future content involves a quality of style they’ve shown themselves more than capable of, that’s a complaint I will always have.

The Trouble With Clones is available now on Steam for £4.49/$6.99.

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