Saint's Row has changed a lot in the years since its original launch in 2006, in that time going from serious Grand Theft Auto competitor to crazy alien-invaded slapstick experience. Since then we've seen three more main instalments, a spin-off title with Saints veteran Johnny Gat, and a bunch of fun expansions. And now, even though the franchise doesn't seem to be finished, the third main instalment (along with its three DLC mission packs and all previously released content) is coming to Nintendo Switch in a bundle called The Full Package.
Saints Row: The Third, which was released way back in 2011 for PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360, puts you in the shoes of "The Boss", the leader of a once petty gang that has turned into a city-ruling crime syndicate and media empire (with their own movie and branded energy drink). It's obvious that the seriousness of the series shifted quite a bit between the second and the third game but despite its comedic tone, Saints Row brings some adult flair to the console, a growing and appreciated trend for Nintendo lately.
The game is set five years after the events of the Saints Row 2 and since then they've created quite the life for themselves. They've become national celebrities under their player-controlled leader, a leader whom the player gets to customise to his or her liking after a short tutorial mission. One thing that really put the series on the map is just that, its customisation options, and they are very much present in Saints Row: The Third. Everything from your character (body-type, gender, hairstyle, voice, facial features and more) and their clothes, through to the vehicles they drive and the weapons they use can be changed, and it's a joy to do so throughout. You can be whoever you want to be and the amount of things you can tweak really sets it apart from other games.
After creating your character, you'll set out to take down the Syndicate, a trinity of gangs that compete with the Saints for their influence in the city of Steelport; The Luchadores (a gang inspired by the Mexican wrestling scene), The Morningstar (a gang controlling all things sex-work), and The Deckers (a group of high-tech hackers), each of which has vastly different goals, skills and points of influence. After being approached by the competition, the Syndicate and the Saints get into an altercation after a disagreement that eventually leads to an all-out gang war between the factions and the government.
Without spoiling anything, the narrative is as over the top as the visuals and customisation options in the game and, apart from experiencing the story, there are plenty of things to do in Steelport such as various minigames to complete, strongholds to take over, and collectables to find out in the open world.
Nothing we've talked about is news, however. The game has been out for quite some time and what kind of review would this be if we didn't talk format-specific pros and cons? First off, speaking of cons is the Joy-Cons.
The Joy-Cons aren't optimal for shooters, there's no tip-toeing around that fact and in Saints Row: The Third, it's almost unplayable at times when using the Joy-Cons in portable mode. It does help to detach them and either play with one in each hand or in the controller dock but a Pro Controller is definitely the better (and only reasonable) choice for the game. Not everyone has one, however, so if you're interested in playing Saints Row on the Switch specifically, we recommend you to check out the Pro Controller.
Not unexpectedly, the Switch version is inferior to Saints Row on other formats, much like most other third-party games. The game doesn't look great (sure it's an older title from the previous console generation), there were a few performance issues, and we did experience some pop-in textures from time to time. That being said though, it's not too noticeable in handheld mode and let's be honest, those of you who are interested in checking the game out on Switch in the first place most likely want to do so for the portability it offers, and despite some controller issues, it's great to be able to play it on the go. That said, the price of is very steep for such an old game that's available for other formats and that hasn't been improved. However, if portability is important to you or if you just want a different, longer game to enjoy on the train or on a long flight, it's still worth a closer look.