Whenever a game is ported to a new platform, the collective fan base for that game holds their breath and hopes for the best. It almost seems like there’s some weird, video game voodoo that happens when a port is made. Half of them are totally fine and work just as they did on their original release, which is great. And the other half is filled with bugs and somehow breaks along the way. I’m very saddened to say that Saints Row: The Third – The Full Package represents the latter.
I love Saints Row: The Third. It’s one of my favorite games of the open world, crime lord genre. I’ve played it multiple times over and was excited to go through it again on Switch but that excitement was quickly sucked out of me once I began my playthrough.
In Saints Row: The Third you’re the leader of the Third Street Saints. Through some insane action over the first few missions, your crew loses everything. No money, no cars, and no guns. All things that are essential to controlling the city of Steelport. So, like every good gang, you fight back to take over turf from the surrounding gangs. Gang is probably the wrong word for your character and crew. They are basically snarky, super criminals who are cool with doing the most bat-shit crazy things to take over the city and gain some street cred. Plus, protect their own.
Whenever I talk about Saints Row: The Third or recommend it to someone I always describe it as a video game that knows it’s a video game. It never takes itself too seriously and looks to pack in as much fun as it can. And it does a much better job of it than more modern releases like RAGE 2 or Crackdown 3. But you should expect the fun-levels to be amped up from a game that includes a dildo baseball bat.
While I love Saints Row: The Third, I can’t recommend you play this version of the game. The Switch version is just littered with issues across the board. From issues with sound effects to the UI, bugs with game currency, and soft locking frequently. Every time I hit a good pace with the game and was in a groove, I was stopped by a new, random bug with the game. And just about every time I found a new one, I would have to restart the software and redo the last mission. Once or twice wouldn’t be so bad but this happened upwards of ten times in the first few hours of the game.
There isn’t a main area of the game I can point all the negativity to. There seems to be something messed up across every different piece of the game. It almost seems like the perfectly fine version of the game on other platforms was dropped in a pile of mud on the way to the porting factory to be released on the Switch.
I did replay a bit of the Xbox 360 version of the game before I sat down with the Switch version to get an idea of how the visuals compare. I will say that the Switch version looks better than the Xbox 360 version both in the Dock and in handheld mode. So, that was an immediate plus for me. However, in the opening cut scene, the game couldn’t render in all the assets to make the cut scene comprehendible.
One of your homies, Pierce, is supposed to be fighting with other gang members when he is saved by a personified energy drink. The drink gives him special powers including the ability to dunk a basketball. The unfortunate part is, you only get half of that action. And to cap it off, the basketball hoop is missing from the scene, so Pierce gets crazy strong, does sweet air kicks then attempts to slam a basketball into this imaginary hoop. This one issue isn’t so bad in the long run but it gets worse.
Saints Row: The Third is notorious for it’s over the top gameplay and all around wackiness. This includes explosions and the more you play the game the more explosions you are exposed to. In the case of the Switch version, you should avoid all explosions at all costs. The game just can’t handle them and slows the game down to an unbearable rate. It’s like your forced into a slow-motion sequence as the NPCs suffer being slowly tossed into the air in a frustrating, firey, eight frames per second hell. Avoid all explosions if you can, but for the game’s scripted explosions, find a nice hobby to take up.
Some other problems I ran into during my time with the game include random instances of soft locks on loading screens. At first, I thought it was dealing with unbelievably long load times but after waiting for an unreal amount of time for a video game, I chalked it up to a soft lock. This kind of thing happened infrequently but often enough that it was a constant fear of mine. Another minor annoyance was, during an early mission, my controls randomly inverted. But it wasn’t inverted in the normal sense where you control how your character looks around, up and down, etc. This inversion effected how my character moved left and right. I know Saints Row games are kooky and funny but this is not some kind of joke on the player I am familiar with ever existing in the game.
The last big issue I had with the game was the currency system. Money is really important to Saints Row The Third. You’re constantly buying guns, ammo, cars, upgrades, property and really anything tangible you can think of that a crime boss would have. But immediately after I finished the mission, Guardian Angel, the game credited me with a million dollars. This seemed like a good thing for me, free money to buy anything I wanted at an early stage in the game. But, to my dismay, the game didn’t recognize this money. In fact, it didn’t recognize any amount of money in my character’s bank account. So I was unable to buy anything for a long time. Even after I earned new money I was still unable to do anything with it.
I thought I could fix this issue by going into my character’s phone and opening the Extras screen, where I hoped for an unlimited money cheat or something to help me out so I didn’t have to lose my progress. But, to no surprise to me at this point, this function was also broken. The game wouldn’t open the Extras and it appeared to just be on this version of the game for show and consistency. All of this creating one awful experience.
All in all, my time with Saints Row: The Third on the Switch was a huge disappointment. The fun I could potentially have with the game when the game wanted me to, was massively outweighed by the sheer brokenness and overall buggy experience.
I’m severely let down by this port of the game. Sure, it looks better than it did on last generation consoles but that’s the only positive I can find from this version of the game. It’s plenty of fun and an overall great game when it’s not leaking with problems. I love Saints Row: The Third and, as I mentioned, it remains as one of my favorite open world, crime-boss games but there is no way I can even begin to recommend this version of the game to anyone.