When most people hear the term “remaster”, the usual responses range from a sigh to a shrug. Remasters of recent years have hardly ever been impressive, typically consisting of only an HD resolution upgrade or a more stable, locked frame rate. However, with the recent release of Saints Row: The Third Remastered on Xbox One, PS4, and PC; developers Volition and Sperasoft have effectively set a new heightened standard for the industry.

Credit: Deep Silver

As of writing, I have personally spent 30+ hours in the remastered city of Steelport, and the differences I’ve spotted are monumental to say the least. In my play-through of the Xbox One X version, there are major differences immediately noticed in the opening mission, “When Good Heists Go Bad”. To start, experiencing this game in stunning 4K visuals with a stable 60FPS is incredible. From the initial shootout inside of the Morningstar bank to stealing the entire vault itself via helicopter, I never once thought I was playing a game released in 2011, due in part to ZERO frame drops. In addition, the lighting engine has been fully redone, which exemplifies your homies’ redesigns as well. Johnny Gat’s new look, for example, is by far the best it’s ever been; being less stylized and more realistic than previous iterations. Another excellent character redesign is Pierce Washington’s, who just like Gat falls more in line with our reality. It’s not just your allies who have received a fresh coat of paint, however, as publisher Deep Silver points out “Every weapon has been remodelled, every car has been redesigned and a vast proportion of the city has been retextured…”, along with “…around 4,000 assets reworked, the complete update has been expertly handled by Sperasoft. It has transformed environments, character models and visual effects…”. When it comes to visuals and graphically fidelity, SR3R redefines the term “remastered”.

Credit: Cycu1

However, I would not be conducting my due diligence if I claimed all is well in revisited Steelport. While more good has come from this enhanced re-release than bad, the negative needs to be addressed as it lead to immense personal frustration. Certain gameplay aspects from the original release have had minimal to no tweaks at all, and it obviously shows. Vehicle controls are still incredibly clunky, with tank-like driving and cars seeming to have hit boxes larger than the actual models themselves. Aerial vehicles are just as unreliable as well, leading to bouncing off of and into a series of various buildings resulting in a fiery and explosive death, from a chain of events caused by one slight crash into an object. Speaking of crashes, the game itself crashed to my Xbox dashboard a tad more often than the average 2020 release, so be sure to save frequently. Furthermore, the AI (in particular the Homies and Saints Gang Members) are, to put it bluntly, incredibly idiotic. They can do it all, from destroying your mission objective, to not responding to commands or following the player, and/or getting caught in and endless animation cycle until they fall in “battle”. I must admit, though, that I experienced the majority of these issues during side missions; which I put myself through all of to achieve 100% completion. For the average player, encountering these gripes on a consistent basis is not likely.

Credit: Deep Silver

Saints Row: The Third Remastered does many things right; it’s completely faithful to the original, the graphical upgrade is substantial, bugs and glitches are manageable, and all DLC is bundled in for an asking price of $40 USD. Regardless, it isn’t a perfect release, suffering from dated controls and AI that are practically being shined on by a metaphorical spotlight to the player at times. In the end, for all of it’s faults (which, in the long run, aren’t many), it has done more than enough to rise above the mediocrity of this generation of remasters. Developers could stand to learn a thing or two from Volition and Sperasoft because frankly, this remaster is a home run. Now, only one question weighing on my mind remains: why put so much effort into remastering a game that isn’t even a decade old yet? My guess? Saints Row V is on its merry way.

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