Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Saints Row 2 is my favourite of the series for sandbox crimes, and obviously Saints Row IV is the best superhero game ever made, but what about Saints Row: The Third [official site] there in the middle? Well, it suffers in comparison to either, but there are worse things to be than the third-best game in a cracker of a series.
Saints Row: The Third, right, is an open-world crime gang simulator. You and your crimechums (both virtual and, if you have one, a co-op pal) run and drive and fly around the place, shooting other gangs and pedestrians and policepeople and getting up to no good. If you like open-world crimes, hey, they're fun stuff! It's got some great set pieces, snatches of marvelous spectacle, but... it's a bit zany, isn't it? Little bit wacky?
With luchadores and zombies (remember zombies, yeah?) and Burt Reynolds and celebrity Saints and all that, it comes out 'random'. It's a mish-mash of Things Which Are Funny, Aren't They? which ends up tiresome. Saints Row 2 is daft, of course, and IV is full-on ridiculous, but The Third occupies an uncomfortable ground between the two, not quite working - kooky.
I don't dig its open world or feel much a part of it, which is pretty bad for an open-world game. Much of the city is uninteresting, and splitting it up with so many bridges is irritating when they end up permanently raised. Yet cars keep ploughing into the bridges and exploding - just one way the simulation's naff (which, again, works in SRIV because cyberspace antics push the idea so far). And I miss Saints Row 2's squillion dress-up options.
But it has lots of open-world crimes, and we don't see many open-world crimes games, and they're mostly fun crimes. Being the third-best game in a great series isn't bad.