Saints Row the Third

Open-world gangsta sequel embraces the insane and is all the better for it...

If the first two Saints Row games were little more than rather forgettable GTA-wannabes, then this latest outing is a much more interesting proposition. But rather than try to reinvent the open-world action genre, Saints Row the Third tries its hardest to simply subvert it, throwing in every outlandish concept and gameplay style it can think of and hoping that somehow it all holds together.

And, thanks in large part to the way in which the game refuses to take itself seriously, it melds together surprisingly well. Whether it’s competing in a weird underground game show, battling the undead or playing through a homage to Tron, the game continually manages to surprise you with its flights of fancy. The only time it brings you crashing back down to earth are the handful of traditional crime missions that sink back into the casual misogyny that runs rampant through the genre.

This more fantastical approach to its material has also given the designers free reign with the graphics, resulting in a more cartoonish style that favours bright colours and ridiculous costumes over absolute realism. And like any good GTA-alike, it also features a terrific array of licensed songs to blast out of your home cinema’s speaker setup.

THQ, Xbox 360/PS3/PC, £50 approx, On sale now