Saints Row has never been a very serious franchise. While other open-world games have sober storylines and far-reaching narrative ambitions, the folks at Volition have instead embraced the gleeful chaos of the sandbox genre. Instead of poker-faced gangsters and cowboys, the Third Street Saints live in a world so steeped in over-the-edge urban theatrics that you’d be hard pressed to find a better embodiment of satire in videogame form.
A huge part of that success is in the weapons. On top of the more mundane guns and toys in your arsenal, you’ve always been privy to insane arms – like the pimp cane, samurai sword and the septic waste-spewing truck from Saints Row 2. You may think that was hard to top, but Saints Row: The Third ups the ante, with weapons so ridiculous that it’s hard to imagine that a group of particularly creative middle-schoolers weren’t consulted in the weapon design process.
Let’s start with this little bundle of joy, given to you through the main story. It’s a giant gun that shoots concentrated sound waves instead of bullets, sending foes reeling – and actually destroying them when you use a charged shot. Remember when riot cops used something like this on protesters in Philadelphia? It’s practically ripped from the headlines.
Another “almost, kind-of realistic” satirical ball-buster, this is a suitcase/laptop that you launch aerial drone strikes from. Only, instead of targeting, you know, military enemies, you’re blowing the crap out of rival gang members, or clearing the way for your co-op buddy. Sweet, sweet technology.
If you want to take the satire angle a little bit further, you could say the developers are commenting on the fact that in real life, soldiers with gaming skills have a natural advantage when it comes to setting drone strikes, so this is like art imitating life imitating art. Or something like that.
The Shock Hammer
This nasty little electric weapon drops dudes faster than you can make a “stop – hammer time!” joke. You can get this particular hardware from felled Decker specialists, and electrocute the living crap out of anybody standing nearby. It’s sort of like Thor’s hammer by way of Cole Porter from Infamous – and very handy when faced with a crowd.
Here’s where things start to get wonderfully off-the-wall. This is a gun that launches octopi at your enemies – and if you hit your target, you get to control him. There’s nothing quite like the sight of eight-armed creatures flying through the air – or an army of octopus-wearing, sparkly zombies attacking your enemies. You get this puppy through the Professor Genki DLC.
Want to take control of cars and cause massive vehicular homicide? Maybe create a nice diversion while looking as innocent as can be? Try this puppy on for size – you get it in one of the story missions. Sort of like the Mollusk Launcher without the freaky flying creatures, it lets you take control of vehicles and cause all sorts of mayhem.
Fart In A Jar
One half of the “Stay Classy, Steelport” achievement (the other being the adult-toy gone horribly wrong Penetrator - wield them both for the most immature gamer points you’ll ever accrue), this is a nasty little canister of gas, which you can use as a grenade. This is totally the spiritual successor of the septic avenger truck from the second game, and perhaps the very best example of grade school thinking in all the game.
If the fart in a jar is a wonderful example of immaturity, then this huge “adult-toy” shaped monstrosity is Volition’s version of double air-quotes “maturity” at it’s very finest. A lethal bat with physics that surprise (it’s rather, um, wobbly), and a deep purple hue that perfectly captures the spirit of “death by sex toy”, it’s perhaps the finest addition to the Saints Row arsenal yet. At the very least, it’s the funniest thing you can possibly beat someone up with.
Let’s end with a bang – from the very hands of doom! These are basically giant fists you put on your hands, and when you punch people, they explode. Think massive boxing gloves with dynamite, or the greatest superpower anyone could wish for. They certainly make melee a lot more fun, and you can get them through the natural story progression, if you play your cards right.
Danielle Riendeau is a freelance writer, digital media professor, and nonprofit web ninja from Boston. You should follow her on twitter for all of the relevant links and details: @danielleri