Archive for PC

Favorite Games of 2013

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2014 by caseystorton

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-2013 was an interesting year for gaming. While I’m not exactly the perfect person to do something like this, I’ll give it a try. Before we begin though, I want to explain what I mean by “Favorite Games.” These games’ inclusion on my list is based on the amount of fun I had playing them, not necessarily how innovative they were, or even really so much about the plot, although a well-told story will help a game’s chances. In a controversial move, I won’t be giving any of the games an exact number on the list, as I don’t really feel like I should. Instead, I’ll just tell you what I enjoyed and why. With that said, I do have a favorite picked out, so feel free to complain about that to me on Facebook. Anyway, before the actual list, I’ll mention some other games that won’t be making the list. Not because I didn’t like them, but because as of this writing, I haven’t finished playing through them, and I don’t think it’s right of me to pass judgement on a game that I haven’t fully experienced yet.

Grand Theft

Auto 5

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-Even if I did finish this one off, I’m still not entirely convinced that it would have made the list. It is a pretty fun game, but I do have a few issues with it, namely with some of the character writing, sluggish story progression, and counter-intuitive control scheme, that I’ll give more attention to if and when I eventually pick it back up and finish the story mode.

Assassin’s

Creed IV:

Black Flag

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-I’ve had a lot of fun with this game, but the main reason I’m not finished is because there’s so much fun outside of the story missions that I find myself spending way too long playing it. It’s got a learning curve for anyone new to the series like me, but the combat is interesting, the gameplay is fun, and the story is engaging, when you can pull yourself away from the awesome pirate ship battles, that is.

Papers,

Please

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-A nifty little Indie game developed by exactly one person, Papers, Please is one of the most fascinating gameplay experiences of the year. The basic premise has you playing a guard at a border crossing checking people’s passports and such to make sure they are clear to enter your country. It sounds simple, but really comes into its own once extra documents, terrorist attacks, kidnapping schemes, and other obstacles add some surprising variety to the game. You’ll get a full review once I play it some more, but Papers, Please is not a game to be missed out on.

The Last of

Us

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-Heralded as one of the greatest games of the year by just about everyone that played it, The Last of Us is part of the reason that I bought a PS3, and now that I’ve played some of it, I can safely say that I don’t regret my purchase. The gameplay is intense and nerve-wracking as the characters have to contend with increasingly ferocious enemies with their very limited arsenal of weapons. It also has a great story, with some of the most human characters of any game I’ve ever played. This is another one that I’ll hopefully finish soon, but don’t wait around for my review, as everyone else seems to have been right about it.

Shadow

Warrior

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-This one kinda slipped past a lot of people, which is a shame, given how enjoyable it is. While I haven’t played all that much of it yet, Shadow Warrior is one of the most fun times I’ve had playing a game this year. It’s got tons of blood and guts to give impact to your gunshots and sword strikes, as well as some incredibly varied combat for a Shooter. I’d say give it a go if you can get it on sale.

-Now that we’re done with those, let’s get to the ones that I actually did finish.

Bioshock

Infinite

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-While certainly not my favorite game of the year, I did enjoy my time with Infinite. The story was interesting and engaging, if a little confusing, although I suspect that this was the point, the gameplay was fast and frantic, even with the limitations on your arsenal at any given time, and the characters of Booker and Elizabeth were both genuinely interesting to experience. I’ve already wrote a lot about this game, so check that out for a more detailed opinion.

Tomb

Raider

-Tomb Raider represents a nice trend in gaming that started last year with Spec Ops: The Line and Far Cry 3 of video games where the focus of the story is put on the main character. While the world Lara exists in is populated by other characters that are a driving force of many of the things that she does, she is on her own for a very large portion of the game, and is left with only you, the player, to watch over her and guide her through the impossible situations that she winds up in. This combined with the fluid controls and fun gameplay makes Tomb Raider one of 2013’s best.

Injustice:

Gods Among

Us

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-I’m not exactly an expert on fighting games, but Injustice was a fun time for me. It had a character roster that was extensive without being overwhelming, a fun and balanced combat system that only had one or two overpowered characters, and a story that, while a bit silly at times, gave a pretty decent context to all of the action. Definitely worth checking out for anyone that enjoys fighting games.

Far Cry 3:

Blood

Dragon

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-While far from the lengthiest entry on the list, Blood Dragon’s approach to comedy is a huge step in the right direction for gaming, and hopefully the start of a great new trend with AAA releases. As the great philosopher Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw explains it, “Someone wants to unwind after a big AAA project by taking all the tools and making a funny little ancillary game that appealed to them, because they didn’t have to take it so seriously. And then low and behold people like it because it’s fun and got a bit of heart that makes it stand out among the usual AAA releases.” I really hope this continues, mostly because it’s not too late to make “The Last of Us: Robot Monkey Space Adventures.”

The Stanley

Parable

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-While I’m still having trouble allowing myself to call The Stanley Parable a “game” in the traditional sense, I figure it’s at least close enough for me to put it here. If you still aren’t familiar with the phenomenon of The Stanley Parable, go play it for yourself.

Pokemon Y

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-I’ve been playing pokemon games for a long time now, but after Diamond and Pearl, I was skeptical as to how much they could really add in the future. I skipped out on the Black and White games, but decided to give this one a go to see if the change in platform would bring about any cool new features. One of the biggest advancements in the series’ history, X and Y add a ton of new things to the formula without sacrificing the familiarity that endears the franchise to its fans. Anyone that’s ever enjoyed a pokemon game really owes it to themselves to give this one a try.

And finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The Casey Storton Reviews Game of the Year for 2013 is…

Saints Row

IV

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-Was it perfect? No. Is it the best Saints Row game ever made? Maybe, still not sure if it beats SR2. Are there plot holes? Yeah, sure? Does that matter? Absolutely not. Saints Row IV easily the most fun I had in a game released this year. The gameplay is tight and well-designed from years of practice from developer Volition, the story is fun while still providing a clear goal, the characters are entertaining, and all-in-all, it’s just a damn fun time to play. Get some background information from the earlier games before you start, but don’t miss out on Saints Row IV.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2013 by caseystorton

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-Allow me to make it clear that I only bought this game because Steam had a “free weekend” for the multiplayer a while back. I decided that it wouldn’t be a total waste to just go ahead and buy the game, and $40 wasn’t that much, especially for a Call of Duty game on Steam.

-Black Ops 2 consists of 3 separate parts, and even allows you to install them separately, which is good for people needing to save hard-drive space. You get singleplayer, multiplayer, and zombies. Given the major differences in gameplay between the three modes, I’ll cover them independent of each-other.

Single Player

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-The story is largely a far-off sequel to Black Ops 1, skipping from the late 60s to the year 2025, with a few flashback missions taking place in the 80s and 90s. The story involves David Mason, the son of Alex Mason from the first game, going after some asshat named Raul Menendez who somehow gained an international following via the internet. The story is pretty silly, with tons of overdone betrayals and set-ups for you to ever honestly think that something will go right, which leads to a very cynical and detached way of playing the game. It was this very cynicism that actually sort-of hurt me in terms of timing my reviews. I posted a first-impressions of The Witcher 2 a couple of days ago because the story in Black Ops 2 was so dumb that I literally had no idea how much longer I had to play, when in reality I was only about 2 missions away from finishing the game. Also the ending is an abrupt cop-out that clearly sets up a Black Ops 3.

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-As far as gameplay goes, it’s standard Call of Duty fair, with a couple of changes both for better and worse. The better involves the interesting near-future technology, which manages to hit the magic sci-fi sweet spot of appearing possible while still being cool, with advancements such as localized radar and night-vision for your guns, EMP grenades, miniature remote-controlled plane things guns, and a few interesting new weapons to keep things from getting too dull. The thing is, I swear they made the series’ customary health system even worse. You appear to die much earlier than in previous games, as it looks like the blood effects on the screen are much more understated than they have been in previous games. I would say I liked the old way better, but I actually prefer it like this, if only to draw more attention that games like this are in desperate need of a NORMAL FUCKING HEALTH BAR.

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-I’ve been playing a bit of Serious Sam 3 lately, and I cannot tell you how incredibly wonderful it feels to simply glace at a corner of the screen and immediately know exactly how much health I have left by way of a straight-forward number, not an ugly, jarring blood effect that impairs my vision and leaves me guessing how much more I can take before I die. I’d give a score now, but considering that you still have to pay for the game as a whole, I’ll be scoring it as such.

Multiplayer

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-Multiplayer is a bit different from previous entries in the series, but anyone familiar with how it has worked in the past will most certainly see the similarities to earlier games. There’s the standard Primary Weapon, Secondary Weapon, Lethal Grenade, Tactical Grenade, first, second, and third Perk options, but they’ve added in a new weight system, where each item added to your created load-out is worth one point, and you can only have ten points of stuff on you at any given time. That said, there’s a considerable amount of freedom in how you can make room for extra gear. For example, if you want to add on a “Wildcard” that allows you to carry two lethal grenades, but don’t have the spot for the second grenade, you can get rid of one of your perks, or even one of your guns to make room for it. While not exactly practical, it is entirely possible to fill up all ten spaces and not carry a single gun. You could just run around with your knife, which while it seems a bit weird at first, the fact that the game allows for this level of freedom is a welcome change from the tighter restrictions of the Modern Warfare series.

-My favorite thing about Black Ops 1’s multiplayer was the new COD points system, which allowed you access to almost everything from the beginning provided you had the points for it, with only guns left for you to unlock through progression. This allowed people more creative freedom with weapon attachments and perks, and improved customization options in ways not previously seen in a Call of Duty game. Black Ops 2 does away with the COD points system, although on reflection, I think this was a very conscious decision. You see, with futuristic weapons come futuristic weapon attachments, and allowing everyone access to these attachments out of the gate could have provided problems. The one that really comes to mind is the Millimeter Scanner, a sort-of gun-mounted radar sight that allows you to see enemies through walls. Imagine a game of Team Deathmatch where every single player had a Millimeter Scanner on their gun. You’d just get a bunch of people hiding around corners, afraid to come out because they know someone can see where they are. While it is a bit annoying to have to unlock attachments again, this was only done in the name of balance, so I’ll let it slide.

-Modes are relatively standard, although if you play on the PC version like me, good luck finding a game anywhere other than Team Deathmatch and Team Objective. The maps are largely based on areas from the campaign, which is either lazy programming or the developers wanting to allow players to fight in familiar areas. Since I’m pretty much done with multiplayer discussion, I’ll go ahead and talk about the controls. First Persons Shooters generally play better with a mouse and keyboard than they do with a console controller, but it’s abundantly clear that Black Ops 2 was very much so designed to be played on a console controller, as a lot of the actions that are easily pulled of with a controller take a bit more effort with the keyboard. This awkward porting combined with me being too lazy to figure out where I wanted my mouse sensitivity to be led me to eventually give up and just play the game with an Xbox 360 controller. I’d go back and forth on numerous occasions, and every time I would note that I performed distinctly better with the controller. I don’t know if this is due to my own personal familiarity with the controller or if the PC controls are just that bad, but I didn’t experience annoyance on this level with Rage, Skyrim, Fallout 3, Left 4 Dead 2, or Saints Row the Third.

Zombies

-As silly as it is that this mode has persisted as long as it has, I’ll admit that Zombies is a pretty good time. It’s clearly meant to be played with friends, as it’s very easy for zombies to sneak up on you, but it is perfectly functional as a single player experience. Basically, you fight through increasingly difficult waves of zombies, barricading them out whenever possible and spending points earned by killing them on buying guns, perks, and opening up more of the map. It’s kinda fun for a bit, but there’s not all that much to it. Granted, it’s just another part of the game, and it isn’t supported nearly as much as competitive multiplayer, so I see no issue with it inherently.

Conclusion

-Black Ops 2 is the best Call of Duty since Modern Warfare 2… which is to say that it’s not too bad, and it passes the time. The laughable story appears to finally be demonstrating a bit of self-awareness, and the multiplayer is moving in an interesting direction. Not bad, but there’s no need to run out and buy it. 69/100

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2013 by caseystorton

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-I’m starting to get just a little bit embarrassed by how long it normally takes me to put out a game review. The thing is, I usually just play whatever game I feel like playing that day, whether or not it’s something I’ve reviewed already or something that I should probably get to at some point depends largely on the day. That said, I’ve currently got several games in progress (this, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Serious Sam 3: BFE, The Walking Dead, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin), and thought I’d devote some time to a “First Impressions” of the one that I knew would take me the longest to finish.

-The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings centers around Geralt of Rivia, a “Witcher” who is assigned to protect the king is Temeria from harm during a battle with some rebels. After a battle the king gets offed by a professional assassin and Geralt is blamed for it, forcing him to go on the run and pursue the king’s real murderer. It seems like a pretty standard plot, but I can already tell that there’s a lot more to this story than there initially appeared to be, with plenty of side characters and plot diversions to keep the pace going.

Image-Probably my favorite thing about the first few hours that I’ve played is the combat. I’ve heard some people complain about the difficulty, but really, it’s not a hard game. I’d heard some people mention the controls, so I went through the tutorial once with the mouse-and-keyboard and once again using an Xbox 360 controller, and while the keyboard setup doesn’t exactly have any major issues, I’m thankful that the game was designed with a controller in mind. Really though, the combat isn’t hard if you know what you’re doing. You can sort-of get away with simply charging into battle slamming the light attack button like a moron on Easy difficulty, but Normal difficulty requires at least a little bit of discipline to play. You need to effectively pick your targets, know when to block, dodge, counter, throw bombs, cast magic, enhance your sword, or drink potions in order to survive a fight. On the topic of potions, you can only drink potions before battle, which isn’t really an issue, as at least so far, combat happens in continuous bursts, and the first fight is never the hardest, giving you plenty of time to stop and drink a potion before heading to the next battle. The only real problem I have is with the targeting system, which doesn’t always work quite as well as I want it to, but a quick dodge or parry is usually enough to get me out of any bad situation the targeting got me into.

Image-I can already tell that the branching dialogue options will lead me through a long, well written, and very worthwhile story just by the huge variance each option has from the others. The dialogue isn’t really something that can be adequately explained, as it largely revolves around what you as a player want to do and who you want Geralt to work with. Major side-note, if you don’t have a relatively high-level gaming PC, just go ahead and buy the Xbox 360 version instead, because this is a very demanding game. For my more tech-savvy readers, I’m running it on an MSI gaming laptop with an i7 2.3 GHz processor, 8 gigabytes of RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 660M with 2 gigabytes of DDR5 video memory. This is what my current settings are, and keep in mind I tweak a couple settings every time I boot up the game, and I experienced some minor drops in frame rate during the cut-scenes last time I played:

Image-It takes a LOT to run this game, so don’t think that just because the game is nearly two years old that it won’t take a powerful machine to run it on full settings.

-So far, I’m really enjoying The Witcher 2. The combat is fun, the story shows lots of promise, and the lack of hand-holding is incredibly refreshing for a modern RPG. Sure, the inventory screen is a bit weird, and the visuals may put a strain on your rig, but I’ll go ahead and give it an early recommendation. Also, there’s lots of sex in it.

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Mafia 2

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2013 by caseystorton

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-Kind-of a random game for us today, Mafia 2 came out in 2010, and it seemed that the most common response was something to the effect of “wait, I think I remember Mafia 1.” Well, a strange series of exchanges got me this game as a gift on Steam, and I only just recently decided to play it all the way through.

-You take control of Vito Scarletta, an Italian immigrant who grew up in the Italian ghetto of Empire City in the 30s and 40s. He got himself arrested in the early 40s and drafted into WWII for the invasion of Sicily. We get to see a bit of a mission that serves as a tutorial for moving, shooting, taking cover, and selecting weapons.

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-Anyway, you get shot, and get some time to go back home. Your old friend Joe gets you discharged and working for one of the local crime bosses. It’s a basic Mafia story from here on out, with plenty of contract killing, stealing ration stamps, fancy suits, old cars, and period weapons to go along with it. It’s nothing special, but it does the job, and it stays relatively interesting throughout.

Image-As far as gameplay goes, at first, Mafia 2 looks like a GTA style sandbox crime game, where you are free to drive around the city, steal cars, shoot guns, bang hookers, and occasionally do missions if you should see fit to do so. However, the open city map is a bit of a tease, as you are always locked into a linear mission structure with no option to stop or branch out. At first it’s okay, but as you go on, having to drive across the city every time you need to complete another mission gets incredibly tedious, especially with my handicap of driving with the keyboard, all while having to make sure to not exceed the speed limit or run into anything for fear of starting a police chase or costing myself money in repairing my car.

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-As far as the PC port goes, the game offers plenty of graphics customization options, but considering how the game looks, it’s a lot more demanding that it needs to be, especially considering what turning on some weird physics option does to my frame rate. The controls work well enough, and of course all of the keys can be rebound as you see fit.

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-Mafia 2 is a decent game. The driving between missions gets pretty annoying, and the story does a fair bit of jumping around, but the dialogue is pretty good, and the shooting mechanics all work fairly well. If you can get it for cheap, it’s a good little time-waster. 76/100

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Saints Row The Third (for real this time)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2012 by caseystorton

-Yes, I know I sort-of reviewed this already back in January, but at that time, I was too busy plowing through the game as fast as I could, still working on figuring out how to use the PS3 controller I was playing on, and dealing with my cousin’s dog to really get a good look at what I was playing. Also I only finished about half of the game, which I feel is a little lacking. Feel free to write that little adventure off as a first impressions, and consider this one the full review.

-Basically the Third Street Saints have become massive celebrity media whores, and mostly just sign autographs and make movie deals because they can. Eventually, though, a new gang moves into their native Stillwater and forces them out, forcing what’s left of the Saints to regroup in the city of Steelport. While it initially seems as though you’ll have to start from the bottom and slowly work your way up to get anywhere in this town, in about five missions you go from a shitty apartment and a starting pistol to a massive penthouse and a full arsenal of weapons, so the game makes sure that the audience isn’t bored, which fits with the game’s tone pretty well.

-The thing about Saints Row The Third is that given the absolute stupidity the game puts on display, I really shouldn’t like it as much as I do. To counterbalance the overly serious story about taking control of the city and avenging your dead friends and stuff, everything in-between is down-right insane. There’s a ton of different things to do as the game goes on, and it’s a genuine pleasure to see what ridiculous new thing the game will tell you to do next. You might have to cause mayhem from a tank, drive around some prostitutes, protect your tech-savvy ally on a run to some hacking spots, or shooting up mascots in “Professor Genki’s Super Ethical Reality Climax.”

-The thing that keeps it all flowing is consistent variety. Mission types rarely repeat, and even when they do, you typically have plenty of other options to keep yourself busy if you don’t want to do those missions just yet. The fact that the developers could make a game this absurd and still be able to make the rest of it work as well as it did is actually pretty amazing, and it makes for a very entertaining experience. Side-note, I didn’t really appreciate this as much when I first played this game, but it’s something that I’ve been craving for a long time. In Saints Row The Third, your character has their own voice in both gameplay and cut-scenes, and has some sharply written dialogue that varies based on which gender your character is. With games like Borderlands 2 where your character is pretty much just told what to with no option to argue about it or even voice anything resembling an opinion, and games like Mass Effect providing little to no incentive to customize your character when they’ll just say the same lines in their same voice anyway, it’s incredibly refreshing to see a mainstream action game take this step and make the player an integral part of the experience.

-Overall, Saints Row The Third is much better than I initially gave it credit for. It’s fun, it’s interesting, and it’s chock full of all kinds of juvenile humor that most other outlets won’t allow you to indulge in.  It’s currently on sale for $15 on Steam. So yeah, go for it. 86/100

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Saints Row the Third

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2012 by caseystorton

-Skip to the second paragraph for those of you that don’t care how I’m reviewing a game that I hadn’t ever played until yesterday. Still here? Okay. My cousin and his girlfriend went out of town for a night and needed me to stay at their house to look after their dog. My cousin has a PS3 and he just so happened to have this game for it. So I decided “hell, I heard it’s not that long of a game, and it’s about time I played a PS3.” So yeah, on with the review.

-The setup has the Third Street Saints, the gang from the first two games (which I haven’t played) as high profile celebrities. All the members sign autographs all over the place, Johnny Gat has his own line of bobble heads, they have their own energy drink, laughably called “Saints Flow,”  and there’s even a movie being made about them. After a bank robbery goes wrong by way of a new gang called the Syndicate. Some really awesome set-pieces later, the Saints flee from their native Stilwater to the new city of Steelport to start back from square one. I never really bought into the whole “square one” business though, as literally the first mission after you land in Steelport has you backed up by several attack helicopters as you steal a bunch of weapons from the army.

-So yeah, it’s a sandbox crime game about a gang acquiring resources and allies before deciding that they have enough to turn all of the other gangs into smoldering piles of dust. Although it has to be said that it certainly doesn’t do so seriously at all. After the crazy opening scene you discover some funny, if immature, thing located around Steelport. Here’s one; the vehicle repair/upgrade shop? It’s called Rim Jobs. Get it? Also, check out this impossibly silly melee weapon:

it’s exactly what you think it is.

-But silly jokes aside, how’s the game itself?  Well, it’s pretty good. The story is pretty lame, as all of the rival gangs introduced at the beginning just end up teaming up with each-other, effectively making them one gang with a few different outfits. While there are police in the city, they’re not nearly as much of a threat to you as any of the gangs, which are only a threat if you get your notoriety up to 4 stars, so the police are pretty redundant. The story has you following a linear path of missions accessed through your phone, many of which become available for replay after doing them once. The activities include mayhem  (do $X0,000 worth of property damage in X amount of time), guardian angel (helicopter rocket launcher escort mission with some sniping thrown in), as well as others that have you covering for merchandise sales, transporting prostitutes, or driving people around the city. Even though they are unlocked in freeplay after you complete them, you end up having to repeat some of them with different new recruits of the Saints, which gets old if you don’t like one or two of the missions.

-While the missions are one way to get money, you can also buy up property around the city that pays out an hourly income to your bank account, which you can transfer to your pocket from your cell phone. With this added in, I found I had more money that I knew what to do with, and started  upgrading all my weapons, vehicles, and abilities just because I could, which felt a little silly. There was also an option to use you money to effectively buy experience point with your cash, which felt a bit odd to me, but I never used it.

-Overall, Saints Row the Third is a pretty fun game. It’s not as much fun to explore and dick around in as say Prototype or Just Cause 2, but the story is more fun than what I’ve played of GTA4, which isn’t bad. Worth a look, by no means great, but worth a look. 7/10 luckshotpro@gmail.com