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WOW! What a game. SAINTS ROW:the Third moves along at a great pace if you select the Campaign mode (this being the best for solo play). This is the remastered version of the 2011 game of the same name.
The publishers put out s notice to ease players minds about this maybe being a re-release more than an actual revision. It was mainly like this;
"According to a statement from Deep Silver, the remastered game features “retextured environments, character models and visual effects, enhanced graphics and a new lighting engine.” It also includes remastered versions of the game's three expansion packs and its sundry DLC. The full package costs @ $39.99."

The Control Schemes scene (shown above) alternates between the Actions shown in the photo and another set of Button-use possibilities; just select the page you want and use the Action required. 

My wife didn't like my finished character portrait (below) but I thought she looked real cool and business like.

Before I chat a little more about the game it is well worth me taking a short while to introduce you to some of the vocal talent giving their voices to the characters. Games are getting more and more star voices for their games yet generally do not advertise who they are. I am not saying I would buy a game because of the character actors, but seeing top names on the advertising may well make me take a second or third (in this case) look at it. Below are just a few of the star vocals you can hear throughout the action of SAINTS ROW the THIRD
 
Burt Reynolds (Boogie Nights, Striptease, Deliverance, Smokey & the Bandit etc)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost, Hellboy, Insurgent, She-Ra, The Good Doctor, New Amsterdam etc)
Hulk Hogan  (Rocky III, Robot Chicken, WWF Smackdown, Suddenly Susan etc)
Sasha Grey (Open Windows, Into the Dark, Various Adult films, Entourage)
Tim Thomerson  (Quark, Trancers, Sirens, Magnificent Seven TV series etc)
Troy Baker  (Lego City Adventures, John Wick Hex, Lego DC Batman, Transformers etc)
Rick D Wasserman  (Batman Killing Joke, World of Warcraft, Mafia III, CoD, Diablo III etc)
Danielle Nicolet (Central Intelligence, Born Again Virgin, The Flash, X-Men, Elementary etc)
 
Once you hit the streets the game becomes a wayward romp through the hellish swamp of a town that is known for its incessant gang wars. You and your Saints are against almost everyone and everything else that gets in your way or so much as looks at you in a perceived or actual threatening manner.

The villains are archetypal characters, seen many times in TV shows and mainstream movies, acting tough, talking slow but threatening, blowing cigar smoke into faces of their minions, in fact every cliché characteristic you have ever seen on large or small screen.

The combat is plentiful, violent, and adrenaline busting fun, just as a good if not better than any of the major games you could name. If you played the 2011 original you might think why should you purchase the same game again 9 years later because it's unlikely to be any different, and that would usually be a reasonable assumption. However this is not just a repeat of the original with a few additional bells and whistles, it's a revelation that leads the way for the revising and revamping more old favourites. Of course there are some areas that you may have visited before, but the new rennovations and new revelations have added complications and expectations with every twist and turn.

Ridiculous situations, weird and wonderful weapons, crazy mad adversaries, sandbox style parameters, fashionable, riotous and witty storyline, it's like being a part of a reality show that has been taken two-steps too far. Greatly agreeable.

  

The hard truth about SAINTS ROW the THIRD Remastered is that it is an exceptionally fine and funny story driven first person shooters from start to end, it is, to coin a phrase, more fun than a barrel of monkeys. It's a laugh and death a minute game. It is surreal violence you can take to the bank. Strutting your stuff through the City, you need to look good and have all the necessary hardware to continue your exciting life of a streetwise streetgang leader.

Certain things from the original have been retained, such as the famous Purple Penetrator bat and the 3-barreled Bling shotgun, and with the latest graphics and modern use of technology that makes moving free and easy, like reality, making almost any action humanly possible (and perhaps inhumanly possible) possible.

Apart from other Street Gangs you are faced against the onimously named The Syndicate who have stealthily moved into and virtually taken over the game's famed City of Steelport.

Played solo as it was meant to be or in co-operative mode there is a lot of good stuff to find whether you have never played it before or you are returning to it from nearly a decade.

  

The SAINTS ROW 3rd PS4 game has what is probably the most extensive series of options for Character Creation in any game I have played, and that includes Tabletop Role-Play Games, Board Games and PC/Console electronic games. It must have taken me 30-45 minutes to try out the majority of possibilities. For example there are so many shapes and sizes of the Eyes, and these are then enhanced by around 20 different colours, including White (the 'Blind' / 'Zombie' look) pupils and several shapes, sizes and colours of Eyebrows and Eye Lashes plus Make-up. Phew! Eyes alone took 10-15 minutes. I do worry a little about today's morals though. I am not prudish and am known to swear, too often at times I admit, but whilst playing this my wife turned to me and remarked that there was more, in her words 'unnecessary' swearing than in other games I play, GTA V being one of them.

Now I hadn't really noticed the OTT swearing because I took the language as being 'street-speak' and totally in line with the locations and situations within the game. What I do think is really messed up though is the fact that virtually every word in the Abusive Lingo Dictionary can be found in the SAINTS ROW script, but when it came to nudity - necessary or not within the situation - the publishers have pixelled out any pieces of suspect flesh. To make it even more weird, when creating the body for your character one of the size choices you have is 'sexy' which is defined by the female character pushing up her expanding boobs. Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I am not saying that the game should have nudity or titillation. What I am saying is that if you want a nude girl onscreen then do not pixellate, just film the scene showing the back or maybe neck to the shoulders, thus giving the impression of nudity (which can be shown true by having the girl turn her naked back to the camera without any reveal) never being any actual nudity. Pixellating only works (in my opinion) in games like Leisure Suit Larry when it is done for a laugh.

Too many mixed messages: Sexy means Large Breasts, Sexual parts of the body mean Pixellation, Swearing is okay whatever the circumstances. Killing is Normal and okay. Sexual content is a definite no-no.  

The Official View

GLOBAL ENHANCEMENTS

§        New Lighting Engine with Physical Based Rendering and Global Illumination

§        New Ambient Occlusion Methods - 3 different ambient occlusion methods implemented, which when combined create occlusion for big, medium and small details (Ambient Obscurance, SSAO and AO from textures)

§        TAA and FXAA were implemented to the new rendering (Antialiasing).

§        Enhanced fog with volumetric effects

§        HDR Sky support.

§        Enhanced Depth of Field and Motion Blur

§        Increased Traffic and Pedestrian Density

§        Incremented Draw Distances

§        HDR Rendering

§        Enhanced Environment Reflections

§        New materials and shaders for content

§        Improved VFX

§        High Resolution Textures, UV corrections and unified Texel Density among objects

§        Extended Post Process - New LUT´s, Chromatic Aberrations, Film Grain, etc.

§        Removed Animation Compression

§        Enhanced Foliage Rendering and grass view distance

§        Custom solution to add visual variety to buildings – Large Scale Texture Variation (LSTV)

§        Enhanced Planar Reflections Tech

ENVIRONMENTS

FOG

Volumetric Fog implementation with two key components:

AMBIENT COMPONENT

It has dynamic real-time calculation and receives colour information from the directional light. This gives us dynamic values such us height, density, position, etc. All this is connected to the main camera so changes are noticeable when the camera moves.

DIRECTION COMPONENT (LIGHT SHAFTS)

New tech has been implemented to the game. It allowed us to add volumetric and real-time solutions for light shafts, that are coloured dynamic light shafts, for dynamic shadows.

GI Solution - List of features

§        Cubemap Relfections

§        Diffuse Color Bounce

§        Cubemap Parallax

AMBIENT OCCLUSION

There are 3 different ambient occlusion methods implemented, which when combined create occlusion for big, medium and small details.

1.        AMBIENT OBSCURANCE

The scattered, in the atmosphere, light is a major contributor of illumination in shadowed areas. The technique bakes sky visibility factor and major light vector for each point of the each zone with given step. This type of AO is mostly used for big volumes such as areas between buildings, under bridges etc. But also it gives additional top-down ambient light

2.        SCREEN SPACE AMBIENT OCCLUSION

SSAO was fully remastered with improved performance and look for the game. Mostly it is used to emphasize middle-size volumes but it also helps with some big and small details.

3.        MATERIAL AO

Almost all materials got baked AO to represent fine details in textures.

CITY TRAFFIC AND AMBIENT POPULATION

Number of vehicles increased: additional cars appear at parking spots and on the roads

Density of pedestrians increased: street presence in higher volume and more often interactions.

The increased car density in combination with the new VFX can create significantly more impactful moments

Environment Art – Reworked Areas

ENHANCEMENTS

§        All textures have been reworked with improved resolution, consistent Texel density and Phyiscally Based Rendering (PBR) materials.

§        Environment colour schemes are redone for the materials to receive better/proper visual and PBR rendering

§        In terms of additional Art Direction - some materials have “exaggerated values” to emphasize the benefits of PBR rendering and to compliment the style of the game.

§        Added wetness and puddles in other ToD than rain

§        Windows have received dedicated glass material, improving the reflectivity and supporting better the different ToD states

§        A new feature “LSTV “ (Large Scale Texture Variations) was implemented to remove the tiled look on structures

Buildings

STRUCTURES AND GEOMETRY

Almost all exterior structures have received improvements on their silhouettes and level of details. This brought more shadow, shadowed and lit parts and overall increased lighting information in exteriors.

All buildings have received new UVs and correct Texel density.

Distances for LOD's, approach in creation and other specific actions were done to improve the look of the city at different distances

PROPS

Many exterior common city props were fully reworked or received major improvements not only on textures, but geometry to get a better feeling of the remastered city

INTERIORS

All materials within the Interior Spaces are adapted for the new PBR rendering. Some individual props are fully remastered.

Lighting for interiors and cut scenes is adapted and improved for the new rendering.

All interiors have correctly placed cubemaps and other volumes

FOLIAGE

All foliage assets, including different types and sizes of trees, bushes, grass etc. were fully redone. They have received more detailed geometry, better silhouettes, new higher-resolution textures and PBR materials.

Their distances of visibility, LOD switching, MIPs etc. were also redone and increased.

The grass now is visible at much bigger distance, increased density, textures and PBR materials.

ENHANCEMENTS

§        All Times of the Day have been completely reworked with remastered Lighting.

§        The mood throughout the different Times of Day has been reworked to show the benefits of PBR and create more variety

§        New sky fully reworked in HDR. It supports better eye-adaptation and has increased level of detail and credibility.  All main ToD’s have received different sky HDR textures

The new ToD has lead to more improved flying experience due to the more natural surface response around.

Furthermore, the new lighting has added more depth to the scenery which improved the overall feel of the world.

CHARACTER ART

ENHANCEMENTS

§        All Primary NPCs (Story Characters) are completely remade from scratch, based on high poly models, with greatly increased fidelity and high quality PBR Materials.  Character Art Direction has been adjusted to find the best slot between the marketing image of the characters and the old look of them.

§        Secondary Characters (All enemy factions) have been also reworked, while remaining true to the original. As with the Primary NPCs they are based on high poly models and have highly increased fidelity. The City Forces have (STAG Troopers, Police, Swat, etc.) have received similar treatment, however the concept of some has been updated to fit more credibly the world.

§        The Player Characters base body has been remade and the overall quality is improved.  The clothing has only improved material resolutions and PBR shaders. Outfits based on City Forces or Secondary Characters have greatly improved look (see above)

§        Pedestrians have received new PBR shades and some adjustments. Many problematic heads are in the process of being remade

Character Adjustments

Beside adding PBR Materials and Realistic lighting response to the main character cast, we had to look carefully how to remake them.

To create strong technological leap we had to re-create the main models completely. During that phase we tried to find the right balance between the art style of the game and what has remained in the players’ minds in terms of marketing image of the game.

This gave us the opportunity to add more credible details to the characters, while still remaining true to the IP. For these, we used as aspirational goal the main marketing assets (key images and trailer).

VEHICLES IN GAME

Enhancements

§        All vehicles have been reworked and improved over the old base. They have increased fidelity with a higher level of detail and polycount. Vehicle Art Direction has been slightly adjusted to find fit for the extra level of details. All undercarriages were fully remastered as well as engines, interiors, damage models and exploded variants. The texture atlases, masks and decals are fully redone for PBR and have higher-resolution. All vehicle VFX are remastered and work with PBR

§        Vehicles got new PBR clear coat shaders that are compatible with decals, grime and dirt masks. All original colours were remastered for the new rendering improved with more realistic and accurate response to the different lighting conditions.

§        Lights, Grills and Bumpers have been completely remade with additional level of detail and more realistic proportions.

§        Geometry of all Vehicle Rims, Tires, Bodies and their modifications was completely remodelled and improved. Some custom Rims, like Ashanti, have received completely new and more modern look.

WEAPONS

§        All weapons are completely remade from scratch. The models have a higher polycount and new realistic PBR Materials, including a high poly base

§        Weapon Art Direction has been adjusted to conform modern AAA standards. The base idea of the weapon has been kept close to the original, but some proportions and all details are adjusted to make the weapon feel more realistic. Furthermore, the level of details and overall fidelity has been greatly improved to ensure better presentation within the UI and within the game.

§        The UI Presentation within the Player Crib has been slightly updated to fit with the SRTT Colour Gamma and to steer away from the black background. The weapon composition on screen has been minimally adjusted to reduce some overlapping on the long weapons (for comparison see: Snipers). In addition, all weapon icons have been re-rendered in high quality with more details.

VFX

395 improvements

§        The majority of VFX have been reworked with new higher resolution textures and improved materials.

§        Emitters have been reworked for better visual impact - Particle systems have particles increased, new flipbook animations for explosions, sparks added everywhere possible. Lights are not spawned with the emitters to increase the effect.

§        Lit Particles - Particles are now affected by the lighting via spherical normal shape (primarily for smoke)

§        New realistic animated sequences with improvements for smoke, fire, explosions, vehicle smoke effects, weapon-fire and weapon-hit, etc

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015