Saints Row: The Third Season Pass Roundup

Saints Row: The Third was easily among my favorite games of 2011. It’s crazy fun, especially in co-op, and the over-the-top weapons, missions, cars, and practically everything else made it awesome.

With the current lull in my gaming schedule, I thought it might be a good time to revisit and see what sorts of DLC had dropped for the game since I completed it. I didn’t have the Season Pass previously, but a recent THQ sale on Xbox Live made it quite affordable. The Season Pass comes with 3 major DLC packs, and I’ll tackle them one by one.

GenkiBowl VII

GenkiBowl VII adds a set of side activities to the game that take existing SR3 activities and give them a “Genki” spin. The new activities are:

  • Apocalypse Genki – a (minor) variation of the old “Professor Genki” activity
  • Yarngasm – think Tank Rampage, but with a giant yarn ball instead of a Tank
  • Skyblazing – similar to the Trailblazing event, but more score-based and taking place high in the air in a flying Panda suit
  • PR Opportunity – a rework of the “Escort” event, but with more flamethrowers…

The Professor Genki reality show event never really caught my attention, and it’s just as boring here as it was in the original game. It’s also an event that doesn’t scale well once you’ve got almost full invulnerability and infinite ammo. You’d think they could turn at least some of this off for the event, if they wanted to make it semi-challenging. They added sharks, and sort of a jungle theme, but it’s really pretty much the same activity as it was before.

Yarngasm is probably the most fun of the bunch. The Rampage events are always a good time, and rolling a giant yarn ball to crush cars is pretty fun way to cause havoc. You can earn a few charges of a special move by racking up combos, and when you unleash it, your yarn ball creates a wide radius of destruction. If there was more of this, or there were longer/more challenging variations, this would have been a fun diversion. As it is, there’s only two and you can probably wrap both up in a half hour or so.

Skyblazing is just awful. You have to fly around the city, landing on rooftops and chainsawing mascots. This sounds like it could be awesome, but the flight controls are terrible, and the chainsaw is one of the more awkward weapons to use. There’s a lot of fighting the camera and guessing at how far things are away from you, both of which are not that awesome. Pretty much the only way to win is to land on all the rooftops and kill all the mascots, which kind of defeats the purpose of setting up a course of rings to fly through.

PR Opportunity puts you in the GenkiMobile, which is equipped with a set of four flamethrowers. The flamethrowers are locked, though, until you run over pedestrians. Otherwise this plays out very much like the Escort activity. You must avoid news vans while doing whatever Genki wants you to do, whether that’s smash cars up, kill certain people, take him places, etc. It’s an average activity, and not really good enough to balance the utter crap that fills most of the rest of this DLC.

The final verdict should be pretty obvious – this DLC pack is pretty darn terrible.

Gangstas In Space

Although I’m pretty sure Gangstas In Space is the title of one of the two endings to the game, and both involve a movie that stars the Saints, there’s no relation between this DLC and that ending. This DLC is more mission-based, following the leader of the Saints as she aspires to become an action movie hero.

The missions themselves aren’t anything to write home about. There’s a pretty standard “on-rails shooter” mission, a fairly standard “kill a bunch of guys and take the objective” mission, and then a pretty standard “fly a VTOL and cause havoc with it” mission to top it off.

There’s a decent bit of poking fun at the fact that the director’s a total jerkwad, and that the player character is a terrible actor. The twists in the plot are fairly predictable and bland. The missions themselves are pretty unremarkable – good, but just more of what you’ve done before in a slightly different context.

Overall, this is not offensive, but it’s also quite forgettable. There’s not a lot of “new” if you’ve got a VTOL and some energy weapons already in your crib.

The Trouble With Clones

The final bit of DLC centers around a fan of the Saints who tries to clone Gat, only to end up with a hulking Frankenstein’s monster in the form of “Tag” – Gat reimagined as a mindless brute.

Here again we see some pretty standard mission types with slight differences. There’s a fair bit of driving around, some shootouts with police and gang members, and another on-rails “defend the vehicle/person” sequence.

There are a couple of novel ideas here, though. There’s a bee-gun which shoots bee grenades that stun and incapacitate enemies. This is kind of cool, although it feels like the “fart in a jar” grenade, which we already had.

At one point you get to chug an “enhanced” version of Saints Flow energy drink, and it makes you capable of one-shotting enemies (with a 60’s Batman style “BIFF” overlay), plus run faster than most cars, and throw fireballs instead of grenades. This is a really cool idea, and it’s probably the most fun I had throughout all of the DLC.

Conclusion

There are some really cool ideas here, buried in a pile of rehashed and warmed over SR3 leftovers. If I could just play the fun bits, I’d probably double the length of my playtime from the DLC packs. As it is, each one only took around 2 or 3 hours to clear while getting all of the achievements.

The underlying problem is that the unlockables from all the Season Pass DLC, are lame. There’s a couple of homies, vehicles, and weapons on offer per pack, but they’re not the cool parts of the DLCs. You can’t unlock the flying panda suit ability, or the Saints Flow ability, for example. Both of these are really cool mechanics that I’d like to play around with outside of the missions that feature them.

You can go back and play the missions they’re in, if you want. (You have to start over from the start of each DLC pack once you clear it, which is kind of sad…) But I really feel like there’s a wasted opportunity here – give us really cool things, and a sandbox world on which to unleash them, but not both at the same time.

My verdict on the entire Season Pass is a great big thumbs down. If you’ve got a few bucks to burn and just want to play some SR3, it might be worth it. But realize you’re going to be digging through an awful lot of junk to get at a few hidden gems.