Unexpected Pleasures in Saint’s Row 3

Saints Row the Third

As many of you may know, I am the proud owner of a new gaming PC, so naturally I’ve been digging through my backlog of Steam games to put the new machine through its paces. Thanks to various sales, I have a pretty sizable collection of games despite not having a rig worthy of running them until now. One of the games I’ve been playing the most is Saints Row: The Third, which I bought as part of the THQ Humble Bundle. The funny thing, though, is that I didn’t buy the bundle thinking I’d end up playing much Saints Row; it was more that I’m a sucker for a sale price and thought some of the other games in the bundle might be worth checking out.

Part of the fun of my new machine is launching games and seeing how they run with all settings maxed out, so I spent most of one Saturday launching one game after another and playing with the settings. Much to my surprise, Saints Row is actually a gorgeous game, especially on the highest settings. Once that sank in, I realized that I was also having a hell of a lot of fun playing the opening set piece during a bank robbery gone wrong. Pretty soon after that, the game had its hooks in me, and I ended up playing it for a good six hour session the following weekend.

I was definitely not expecting to enjoy Saints Row as much as I do. I know the other guys raved about it when it first came out, but it never really sounded like the sort of thing I’d enjoy. I got kind of burnt out on open-world cars and crime games after GTA IV and LA Noire, and I was planning on avoiding the genre for the foreseeable future. The driving is usually what gets on my nerves the most; it’s standard practice to force players to drive around giant maps just for the sake of it, and the cars usually handle like boats. Luckily I don’t seem to mind the driving in SR3 so far. Part of the reason is probably that you’re encouraged to drive like a psychopath, which definitely helps increase the fun.

It got me thinking, though, about other games I was surprised to enjoy. I know Trials Evolution really snuck up on all of us as a group, and that’s another case where the racing/driving genre took a unique approach that I found enjoyable. I also remember playing demos for Limbo and perennial GS favorite Resident Evil 5 and not expecting much from the games, but that’s probably due to a poor demo at least in the case of RE5.

How about you? Are there any games you never thought you’d play but ended up loving? What came out of left field and got its hooks in you? Let us know in the comments!

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Someday I will die under a pile of books, movies and music. Until then, I'll eke out my time spent in sunny Los Angeles, California by working on the Great American Blog Post.

5 thoughts on “Unexpected Pleasures in Saint’s Row 3”

  1. Jeff is on my Friends list on Steam, and all I could see that whole weekend was him jumping from game to game like some kind of buffet.

    I never thought I’d enjoy the inFAMOUS series. A lot of the pre-release material for the first game just didn’t interest me. When I actually got my hands on the game, I had a lot of fun. The climbing and combat were smooth, the visuals were great (for the time), and it invoked nostalgia from a guy who played the crap out of Spiderman 2.

    Crysis was another title that snuck up on me. Most of the reviews I read were so-so, and I fully expected not to be able to run the game on whatever tech I had at the time. I finally decided to buy it out of morbid curiosity, to see if it would run on a $600 laptop with an (Nick, don’t look) integrated video card. It actually handles itself well. I had to turn almost everything down, including resolution, but that game still looks great on low settings, and I had a blast with it. It was everything Far Cry had, but more serious and fine-tuned. And the Alien Mountain chapter was a game-changer. Literally.

  2. Ah man, I had the same experience with Saints Row III. I had zero expectations after the Saints Row 2 port for PC was awful. The 3rd was a blast, and I actually finished it..

    Another game that did it for me was Titan Quest, which I got in some kind of Bundle as well I believe. I had never played any isometric RPGs before (yeah, I’m a PC gamer, riddle me that) and I gave it a shot. I plugged 24 hours into it according to Steam so it was doing something right. I didn’t finish it, but man, what a surprise.

    Also, The Longest Journey. I don’t even remember why I bought the game… No one I knew had played it, it was already old when I played it. And it stole my heart and set a standard. A true gem that deserves to be played by any adventure / puzzle / story game lover.

    Kane & Lynch, Mirror’s Edge, Sniper Elite, also come to mind, only because they didn’t seem to be that well reviewed by anyone. Going in to a game with low expectations is a good way to do it it seems.

  3. Yes! Titan Quest was also in the THQ bundle. I’ve played about an hour and a half of that one, but it’s not well-suited to an HDTV + controller setup, and the wireless keyboard and mouse combo I bought is a complete piece of shit. Really need to return that damn thing and figure out a better setup.

  4. I actually on a whim, bought Sniper Elite V2 and enjoyed it. If not for the story, which was so-so, typical stop the Nazis from launching deadly bombs, the xray kills were gorily satisfying and one of those, look through the spaces in your hands sort of thing because some of them, oof they look painful. The mechanics handled well apart from ridculous AI sight range. I also just contributed to the Mojam Humble Bundle and Mojang’s game creations are quite fun. I just can’t get the Pinball game to work because the window is so large, I can’t get at the start menu :/, but Nuclear Pizza War is a great little arcade style game that had me sink a couple hours in. Made me reminisce of games like 1942 for the NES

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