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Saints Row has always been the twisted cousin of the Grand Theft Auto series. The first two games were generally well received due to the hilariously over the top sandbox gameplay and extensive character customization they gave gamers. Saints Row: The Third is looking to follow up on the things that made the previous two great but is also looking to push the franchise in new directions. One of the biggest changes you’ll see in Saints Row: The Third is that it is no longer set in the city of Stilwater.
The game is now set in the city of Steelport, but once again you take control of the leader of The Saints gang. The plot follows on directly from the ending of Saints Row 2; at the conclusion of the last game, The Saints were in control of Stilwater but things go south and you end up in prison....again. While in prison you end up discovering the existance of a new criminal organization called The Syndicate and once you escape from prison you and The Saints relocate to Steelport. Once there, its up to you to rebuild your gang and take out the rival organizations that control Steelport. Much like previous Saints Row games, you’ll work your way through three separate storylines, each dealing with a different gang, before reaching the story's climax. Volition have also revealed that the game will have a much more open-ended conclusion and that the player will actually get to make decisions which affect the outcome of the story.
Steelport itself looks to be far more ambitious and inspired a location than the previous settings of Stilwater City. Steelport is going to be much bigger and is stylistically inspired by Chicago, despite that the city looks to have lots of unique elements that make it a perfect location for the third installment of this series, like a section of the city devoted to casinos, a Red Light district and even a nuclear power plant.
Volition have also spent far more time designing the town with the player in mind and making the cityscape much easier to navigate. Hopefully this means that players will spend less time relying on the mini-map and GPS system in order to make their way around.
Saints Row 2 featured one of the most comprehensive and expansive character creation systems I’ve ever seen in a game and Volition are claiming that Saints Row 3 will top even that with the “Initiation Station”. The Initiation Station is a free character creator that Volition will be releasing for PS3, 360 and PC ahead of the games release and it will act a bit like the Spore Creature Creator and allow you to create, customize and share your avatar for Saints Row: The Third.
Saints Row: The Third is set to be released in Q3 2011 on PS3, 360 and PC.