Friday, March 16, 2012

This is the End (Experience 17)


The final mission of Saints Row: The Third pits you against a very angry city full of STAG and Luchadores battles. You have to survive three extremely hostile battles. At this point in the game I was essentially invincible due to upgrades and had no actually problems making it through the battles. Without the upgrades these battles would be fairly difficult I imagine. After the third battle you are given the choice of chasing down Killbane or saving Shaundi and Viola from certain death. I opted for the homies-come-first option and saved Shaundi and Viola.


Grenade leap-toss into a mess of enemies goes boom!

Explosive shells from the pistol lead to Shaundi's demise. Whoops.

... and play through the better ending.
Unfortunately the choice to save Shaundi and Viola resulted in a lackluster conclusion and extremely lame post “mission” that finds you leading the Saints to battle Killbane on Mars. It is revealed that you are actually on a movie set (this was obvious to me as they had mentioned the movie a few missions ago – that is a time measurement right?). This was the happy “cheese” ending.

Why me?
A great design choice was made allowing the player go through the alternate ending as the next mission in the game. It was definitely worth checking out both endings. By choosing to go after Killbane you have to brawl with the STAG and protect Saint-Wrestler man for a bit. After STAG loses 8 troops you are driven to the airport and have free reign to blast rockets at tons of STAG and Luchadores vehicles along the way. This sequence was a whole lot of fun. Chasing down and actually hitting the plane required some skill (the hitting of the plane that is). I failed to remember that I could lock onto things so I was just firing from the hip and trying to lead. I ended up failing the mission and repeated it. Again I totally forgot about seeking missiles and managed to stop the plane by leading my shots.

Check out that flying Luchador! Lucha libre senior!

Just before the not-exactly-epic showdown.
After a short quick-time-event sequence Killbane was down for the count! Cyrus from STAG appeared in a cutscene and called in the Daedalus. This was awesome. The Daedalus reigned down hellfire across the city. Everywhere the ground was shaking and explosions were going off. I grabbed some Saints and drove to a helicopter to take down the sky-fortress.

The floating fortress: Daedalus. Too bad the Saints decided to destroy it...
Taking down the Daedalus was not really a big deal... but wait... is that a crack in the Daedalus that I just fell through? I fell from the Daedalus and had to restart from a checkpoint. It was embarrassing and a bit of a let down for an otherwise very memorable experience. The final battle with Cyrus' plane was nothing too exciting. I was hoping for a bit more, but the overall mission experience was definitely good. The conclusion of the game left me confused. The Saints declared the city as a new city-state and Pierce would be the new mayor except... wait what happened to Burt Reynolds as mayor? Zombie him back into the office!

Well spoken!
Saints Row: The Third – Fun.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Murderbrawl XXXI (Experience 16)

To mess up Murderbrawl 31 (Wrestlemania!?) effectively all the talent needed to be removed from the picture. Using the remote control weapon introduced earlier, causing the early demise of the wrestlers was no problem at all. While not an overly exciting mission it was fun just because it was a much slower paced mission than others. There was a lot less firing of guns (really none) and a lot more pure driving, albeit limited. It was a basic mission that just inched the story forward. The game could have benefited a lot from more missions like this that play an important role in the narrative and cutting down on the rushed story telling.

And now for something completely different: This vehicle is nowhere near as fun as it should be.
Up next STAG was back in the picture causing the Saints to panic. Some plane was coming in that needed to be taken out. Naturally this was best handled by leaping from one plane to another at thousands of feet in the air. While cinematic and laughable … I was about to make a point about believability. What a foolish thought while writing about this game. Anyway the mission was fine until a section where you board a tank and fall from the sky while firing at enemies all around. I was not clear if I needed to lead with my shots but nothing seemed to work. I tried leading and not leading my shots... I kind of just gave up and let the mission progress without me taking out the enemies firing at me. The tank was on fire and I figured I was going to fail just as the transition out of the tank took place. I ended up in another tank and crashed into the ground. Green gas filled the area as canisters from the plane smashed into the ground around my tank. This caused the populace of a neighborhood to literally become zombies. While normally I think zombies in games are fine and they are nothing to be excited about... in Saints Row it was awesome. The zombies are vicious and a welcome change of pace from pure gun firing enemies (the oafs being the exception previously). The zombies even remained outside of the missions in this playthrough session.

I wish my glasses would stay on my face after leaping from a plane.
Using a falling tank to take out infantry: not exactly my cup of tea.
I needed a vehicle to take me to visit the mayor for my next mission. I went to the list of vehicles that my gang could deliver and figured I should try out something called the ASP. Little did I realize was the ASP was... an Atari like tank with blocks for shells... effective but a bit on the slow side.

Block you too!
Just what the game needed: Zombies.
Zombie cleanup! After meeting the mayor, Burt Reynolds, the zombie cleanup was a priority due to his promise to support the Saints. The zombie mission was a great aside that played just as well as other zombie games. Things were hectic and just a bit out of control. The best part was the fact that I had some Saints tag along and somehow one was able to get a car into the zombie neighborhood. This was an impressive feat because all of the bridges had been raised to not allow the zombies to leave (and no cars were intended to get into the area). Tearing around in a vehicle was a lot less difficult and a lot more fun (and humorous... drive-bys on zombies made me snicker).

Cars vs. Zombies (new video game title)

Like Left 4 Dead, the supply of zombies is unlimited.
Cyrus was surrounded but not defeated... too bad he avoided becoming a zombie leader of some crazy zombie STAG.
Before the big Murderbrawl 31 event there was one more task at hand. Wrestler/Saint needed some mask back to make an appearance at Murderbrawl so we had to trash a casino and go into an already open vault (open because...??). This mission was just a sequence of fights and did not inspire a lot honestly... unlike Murderbrawl itself.

"Tell me where the next mission is so I can be done with this one!!"
Murderbrawl is definitely a mission worth experiencing. Like the end to the Deckers' storyline this one was big deal. Instead of a large over the top mission with lots of locations and activities you play out a ridiculous wrestling match against Killbane. The scripted events were well done and the mission was enjoyable. My only complaint would be that Murderbrawl should have an audience of thousands not hundreds as shown in the background of the match.

My character definitely does not inspire a lot of fear...
The little guy is voiced by Hulk Hogan and gets stomped out of the match by jobbers.

The match plays out as a reasonably simple/fun sequence (the quick time events are very acceptable in this form).
Victory! (what match ends with a headlock??)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hit the Deck(er)! (Experience 15)

Before taking on the Tronnies (apparently they are called the Deckers) through some super computer matrix thing... Kenzie needed the routers in the nuclear facility taken out. This mission was fairly bland. But along the way I lost my catpack. I am not sure if this was a glitch or intentional after using a parachute. After jumping into the facility and parachuting down my catpack must have fallen off! Sadness. Emoness. This was a prime example of a mission that was not well thought out. It also concluded out of nowhere and did not make a lot of sense. After destroying the routers my character was left standing in a hail of gunfire and no clear route to escape the facility. Instead of forcing me to say... move my character out of harms way, the mission immediately concluded and showered me with rewards. Not exactly a logical conclusion to my being present in the belly of the Deckers' fortress.

The drop that made me lose my catpack.
Up next was the enter-the-matrix-and-take-out-the-Deckers-leader mission. This mission was a lot of fun and quite unique due to a number of entertaining homages to other games and media. While the art referenced Tron (of course) a variety of old games were on the list to be parodied or hinted at. There was even a sequence to bring back the memories of old text based adventure games. Your character enters as a toilet due to technical difficulties and upgrades to a low polygon blow-up doll before finally becoming a slightly higher poly character. They also throw in some fun items like a crash screen and negative effects to mess up combat (such as built-in lag and reversed controls). The final battle reminded me of Shadow of the Colossus a bit (but nowhere nearly as incredible). This is definitely one mission worth experiencing simply for the variety of references and activities you take part in.

You are a toilet. What other game has you play as a toilet with a gun?
KILL THE UNICORN is always the right answer.
Epic battle for supremacy of the Internets!

Too bad you cannot exist as this huge monster in the game's "real" world...
An outfit change was required before moving on. I finalized my outfit for the rest of my game playing experience. The Cardinal outfit with a punk attitude was absurd and fun all wrapped in one! (check out the swinging cross!)

Nothing too offensive... oh wait it kind of is.
So previously the Saints moved out of their palatial high rise downtown to set some kind of trap for STAG... In the next mission apparently all the cars around the building were rigged with explosives to knock out STAG ground forces upon their arrival. This kind of thinking seems really foolish. STAG has planes and helicopters and whatever else. As predicted the ground attack went poorly and STAG lost only some of their forces... but not their air support... and not the forces entering from the roof. The defense was reasonably fun and introduced some new item that I never used again that rained missiles from the sky. Anyway things did not end very well. The ambush was a failure in my view from the moment it was conceived. STAG had no problem replenishing their unlimited forces and kidnapped Shaundi... retrieving her would be my next mission.

See! All the ground forces are gone! ... wait why am I still having to defend against ground forces?

Seeking rockets are great as long as you don't move the cursor accidentally.
The final mission of my play session required me to change my appearance to look like Cyrus (the guy in charge of STAG). This mission was a change of pace and a bit goofy. My character continuously gave away the fact that she was in-fact not Cyrus but instead a bumbling phony gang-banger. I took two Saints to the main STAG aircraft carrier to imprison them and then sneak around to release them along with Shaundi. This mission was the first where driving carefully was critical. I failed the mission twice before making it to an aircraft to take to the carrier. After freeing the Saints the decision was made to take out the carrier. Easy as pie, and boom one carrier cracked in half.

Hardest part of the game is the next 5 minutes.
What could go wrong? Why does Cyrus' voice come out of my character's vocal chords?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

When in doubt, use a tank. (Experience 14)

Oh no! Killbane (main antagonist) has broadcast some Saints dancing in front of a picture of the destroyed bridge appearing to celebrate. This is a public relations nightmare! Although highly cheesy it worked as a motivation to have a mission where you have to find the secret broadcast location. Of course Killbane escaped but the mission was alright. At the last moment before Killbane's near demise, my helicopter lost control... introducing a remote control item that can take over any vehicle (I had this earlier due to my side mission completions).

I believe I can fly... (... a helicopter ... to the coordinates of the van)
In an attempt to crush STAG, the decision is made to move the entirety of the Saints operation out of the main building to accomplish some kind of unknown counter attack. It did not make sense in the end and the mission was some kind of protect-and-escort-but-not-really--actually-distract-by-utter-destruction mission. The strange thing was that some of the base buildings that I was supposed to attack with a VTOL refused to take damage. I had to land the plane and manually throw grenades to inflict any damage at all.

Crispy little critters and buildings abound!
As per usual my vehicle can take about four hundreds times more damage than any enemy.
Up next the nerdy FBI agent (Kinzie I believe) needed me to go steal a super computer so I could hack into the Tronnies matrix or some tech nonsense. The mission went well but I failed to follow instructions and used a tank to gently free/destroy the computer.

Pirate protagonist has phasing capabilities.

Using the tank as was highly *NOT* recommended... and resulted in my retrying from checkpoint.
Up next it was decided to kidnap the Nytblade actor (apparently from the first mission) from STAG headquarters. To sneak in, Viola and my character had to get into outfits befitting of the Nytblade theme: a cardinal and some kind of stripper nun. (if you arrived on this page from a google search for "stripper nun" my apologies... this is only a game blog) Everything went reasonably well except the escape when Viola felt the need to not enter the escape vehicle and instead take on an entire STAG battalion. She eventually figured things out... but only after I drove about half way to the Saints base and came back.

Very comic book like...

All those red dots on the radar and flames engulfing the screen can only make my escape that much more entertaining!
There is a general problem with the way missions are concluded. There is some exposure to the plot through cutscenes before and during missions but some missions end and cut right to the rewards screens without a moment to take in the weight of what had just transpired. Many instances feel as though they were rushed and no attention to actual storytelling was given. Even a few moments of the camera panning around the situation or a few additional lines could have added a lot more depth. I am not implying that Saints Row is some kind of masterpiece of writing but the plot deserved a bit more time/development than it is given.

All dark and emo with a cat pack that looks like my actual cat.

I guess this is less emo and more thief.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Kill Zimos Please (Experience 13)

This play session I started with a mission for Zimos that was about the most offensive thing I have seen thus far in the game. To put it nicely you free some “indentured servants” for Zimos. The mission begins with Zimos being a stereotypical pimp and your character ending up nude running around a brothel. ...really classy stuff. After blasting out of the building I wound up on a boat freeing people from cargo containers and fending off the Rescorts.
Boat Defense - Great summer internship for any college student!
An outfit change was clean off the gross of the Zimos mission. The Saint-Pirate seems alright.

Needs a parrot. (that speaks zombie)
The next (ten thousand times less offensive) mission involved Oaf man and my character meeting one of the main antagonists recently turned informant. With hints of a military presence coming from numerous new reports it was no surprise that a massive military onslaught interrupted the meeting and played into the mission at hand. The escape from the STAG military forces was entertaining enough. This was a drastic change of pace and resulted in some changes I was not exactly expecting (the police cars are now driven by STAG forces for example).

Looks like a usual visit to a park in Eugene Oregon.
Taking a jet down with a pistol is easier than one might imagine.
Hopefully the missions/story follow the second type as I am not sure I would tolerate much more of the first type. Not so much content this time around... just some pictures and disappointment in the Zimos mission... FRAPS captured two entertaining screenshots during this session:

Might be a critique on my driving... or maybe someone is carjacking me.

I hope there was a twenty page design document on this feature alone.

Missions that are not missions (Experience 12)

Saints Row The Third does not differentiate social calls with characters from missions. I intentionally avoided numerous missions while completing all of the side tasks. Unfortunately I think I may have missed the proper introduction to the given side tasks because they appeared on the map before I learned exactly why the given tasks existed.

All clear on the Tronnie front... come out from under the table.
 Nerdy FBI agent wanted to hack the Tronnies and take them down... did not really understand why I was doing the side tasks of protecting her... until afterward when I visited her and likely missed some critical plot point.

All of your stupid missions are done, what terrible offensive thing awaits our partnership next?
Zimos wanted to pick up contacts and anger the Rescorts... did not really understand why I was doing the side tasks... until afterward when I visited him and likely missed some critical plot point.

... this character should not be voiced by Hogan. They should have picked Randy Orton or someone remotely the same age as this character appears to be. (could have saved $$$)
Hulk Hogan (yea the character is voiced by Hulk Hogan!) wanted me to earn courage by riding with a Tiger.. did not really understand why I was doing the side task... until afterward when I visited him and likely missed some critical plot point.

I did receive access to a VTOL directly from my phone after all my task work. It has two functional modes: Helicopter and Jet (it transforms). Helicopter mode is fairly workable and fun. Jet mode is not. Jet mode is also slow and does not maneuver so well... though I am comparing it to other games ... who knows maybe it is flawless.

Those jets are just for show... cars are a faster way to travel.
After all my social calls some dumb Saint threw a party and the Rescorts attacked via prostitute assassins. I won naturally. Shaundi was arguing about the stupidity of the party because of the dead Saint (Johnny I think) from the first mission... I guess the 400,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 people that have died throughout the rest of the game are small potatoes.

Ever wonder where the graveyard in Saints Row The Third is? (hint: is it in the ocean?)

I never remember to zoom in when sniping... whoops!
 New outfit – The Calledge. (har)

Working on that Masters in Gang Management...