Saints Row: The Third being ported to Switch was a dream come true. My personal favorite of all the do-as-you-please crime sims out there, now portable with tons of DLC. Saints Row: The Third–The Full Package is, in theory, the perfect first outing for the genre on Nintendo’s hybrid console. Luckily, this stays mostly true in execution, too. The game’s bite-sized missions, tons of collectibles, and the plain fun of driving around wreaking havoc all lend themselves to on-the-go play. The main drawbacks in this port are its rare but notable glitchiness and the frequent slowdown in docked mode. Otherwise, the game really does not add much to the original outside of a co-op mode. If you weren’t in love with Saints Row: The Third the first time you played it, this version won’t change your mind. But for the most part, the gameplay is still as fantastic as it was seven years ago when Saints Row: The Third first came out.
If you’ve played Saints Row: The Third, you know what you’re getting into. If you haven’t, well, think of it as Grand Theft Auto’s very weird cousin. With this entry, the franchise went off the deep end and fully embraced unhinged lunacy. In addition to the traditional gauntlet of cops and rival gangs, players face off against virtual reality demons, laser-toting soldiers, zombies, and an unusual degree of sexually explicit missions. It’s an absolutely ridiculous experience packed with hours of pure fun. My playthrough for this review was constantly prolonged by distracting side activities, hunting for collectibles, and the total thrill of roaming free and antagonizing gangsters in a tricked-out street sweeper.
Speaking of tricked out, the customization options in Saints Row: The Third–The Full Package are as absurd as ever. The possibilities are endless with the expansive character editor. My main character sported purple skin and a bright green ponytail, but with a little plastic surgery, I turned him into a faithful recreation of the Hulk. You can also deck out cars with tons of mods, both aesthetic and performance-based. Saints Row: The Third–The Full Package ensures that you look how you want while you’re out there taking over Steelport.
The port unfortunately does not deliver much more than the seven-year-old experience many of us have already had. Without considering how great a few extra story missions could have been, there were several opportunities to make small additions–new songs on the soundtrack, new activities, new vehicles, or new weapons all would have gone a long way. The packed-in DLC and added local and online co-op mode will have to suffice for some. However, I haven’t been able to test the co-op since even the local mode requires two Switches and two copies of the game.
Saints Row: The Third–The Full Package runs surprisingly well in handheld mode, where you can get close to three hours of battery life, and I encountered noticeable slowdown only once. That was after several deliberate, er, calculated test runs where I hopped in a tank and ran up five-star notoriety with both police and rival gangs. This meant there were several cars and helicopters on screen as well as over a dozen bad guys for a few minutes straight. The gunplay took some getting used to on the Joy-Con in handheld mode, but it wasn’t long before I was popping off headshots with ease. Unfortunately, the game was a bit choppier in docked mode with a frequently chugging frame rate–not unplayable, but very distracting. There were a few glitches as well, including two or three instances where the game outright froze or got stuck in a menu and needed a reset, some cutscenes that were completely out of whack, and one more exciting hiccup where my tank started flying. The planned day one patch already promises to address a few of these issues, so it is yet to be seen what state this game will be in on launch day. Sadly, its pre-release state leaves a bit to be desired.
If you love Saints Row and really need your on-the-go crime sim fix, you’ll be happy with Saints Row: The Third–The Full Package so long as you can swallow a few glitches. If you were set on playing on your TV, you’ll want to wait and see how the day one patch addresses matters. It is impressive that it runs as well as it does in handheld mode, but the docked experience is not quite cohesive. This is a 9 out of 10 game weighed down by a 7 out of 10 porting job. The good news is that a lot of those technical issues can be fixed. Even if you are discouraged by the current state of the game, keep an eye on this one, because the experience holds up very well. All these years, later, Saints Row: The Third still does chaos right.