Saints Row: The Third for Nintendo Switch Review — An Agent of Portable Mayhem
While Saints Row: The Thrid - The Full Package contains some great missions at its core, the Nintendo Switch port itself is a bit rough.
Saints Row: The Third – The Full Package is one of the most interesting Nintendo Switch ports to come yet for a variety of reasons. It’s a port of nearly an eight-year-old game, for one, with the Nintendo Switch being on par if not slightly better than the hardware it released on in 2011. It includes all DLC, which on paper should make it the definitive version of the game for series fans. And finally, it is one of the first major sandbox games to hit the system since LA Noire and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in 2017.
As such, I had a somewhat high standard of expectations going into this port, hoping it would prove that this genre could work and run well on Nintendo Switch. That being said, I was somewhat hesitant as the port was being handled by Fishlabs, who released the sub-par Manticore – Galaxy on Fire port for Nintendo Switch last year.
While it didn’t meet all my expectations, Saints Row: The Third – The Full Package for Nintendo Switch was still quite a bit of fun. Even over seven years later, a lot of Saints Row: The Third still showcases an uncommon level of over-the-top creativity. Unfortunately, other areas of Saints Row: The Third that hadn’t aged as well didn’t see any changes, and the later, bombastic levels are poorly optimized for Nintendo’s hybrid console.
For those considering picking this game up on Nintendo Switch, it’s definitely worth noting that Saints Row: The Third – The Full Package is just a simple port with everything included rather than a remaster with notable improvements. Even though seven and a half years have passed since its initial release, the Nintendo Switch isn’t a technical powerhouse that can handle 60fps and 1080p at all times.
When docked, Saints Row: The Third – The Full Package for Nintendo Switch displays at 1080p; in handheld mode, that drops to 720p. While Saints Row: The Third looks quite good for a game in 2011, it still pales visually in comparison to the Switch ports of newer games like Doom and Wolfenstein. Textures and lighting are pretty unimpressive but are serviceable, nonetheless. In fact, if you can get over the anti-aliasing the port can look pretty good in handheld mode, though it definitely doesn’t look as great as when played on a TV.
Like I mentioned though, as a port, Saints Row: The Third – The Full Package is only aiming to be visually on par with its initial 2011 release. Whether the graphics will make or break the open world experience is up to you, though I eventually got used to the look and liked the charming character design. What I was more disappointed by with this Nintendo Switch port was the framerate, which targets 30fps but often comes in at less.
Saints Row: The Third is a game full of elaborate and over the top set pieces, many of which rely on destruction or doing something at a high speed. Towards the start of the adventure, the framerate seemed mostly fine, only struggling with the most intense of explosions and chaos. Unfortunately, the further I got in Saints Row: The Third – The Full Package the less optimized it was. Especially with the last few missions, the framerate constantly chugged noticeably below 30fps, even when docked. This definitely took some wind out of the experience and left a sour taste in my mouth towards the end, which is never a good thing.
The poorly optimized portion of the game later on really dragged the experience to lowest when the action and the story were hitting their peak. This game’s performance does raise the question of if sandbox games “work” on Switch, as even the outstanding The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild struggled to keep its frame rate up at times.
Saints Row: The Third – The Full Package for Nintendo Switch isn’t as technically impressive as that game, with the framerate being the true sore spot. While the experience on Switch can be choppy, there are some truly notable set pieces within this game that I had forgotten about and was instantly charmed by once more after playing it again.
The story missions cover everything from skydiving through planes or in a tank to fighting zombies for Burt Reynolds and participating in a full-on wrestling match with a luchador crime boss. Many consider Saints Row: The Third the point where the whole series jumped the shark into absurdity and I still thoroughly enjoyed it. I’d still recommend checking out Saints Row: The Third, whether it be on Switch or the original systems it released for if you skipped out on it in 2011.
While the main story missions have aged well, a lot of the side content has not. When Saints Row: The Third falls back into generic “protect this person” or “drive to this location and back to deliver something” missions or makes homophobic jokes, I tended to check out. These activities dominated open world design in the late 2000s and early 2010s, and the genre as a whole has mostly moved passed them. You can say they serve as a historical relic of game design at the time, but that doesn’t make them any less frustrating in 2019. The lack of in-game subtitles also surprised me, as it makes the game less accessible and diminishes its viability as a portable game you can play on the go without headphones.
Still, I recognize that isn’t the fault of this port itself. In fact, Whored Mode is still enjoyable and some of those frustrating missions are made easier with all of the added DLC. Having a powerful tank available right from the start may counteract the difficulty, but it was still a fun power trip to roll up to a group of enemies and kill them all in one shot. This port is definitely the most content-rich version of Saints Row: The Third available, if that is an element that influences your purchase.
Saints Row: The Third – The Full Package for Nintendo Switch is an interesting release in 2019. It’s a simple, content-full port that is coming almost eight years after the fact, and with some noticeable technical problems, nonetheless. It proves that open world games can be enjoyed in bite-sized bits on the go with Switch, but it also highlights the fact that achieving this with a consistent framerate on the hybrid console is definitely a technical feat that’s hard to achieve.
If you have never played this game before, don’t have access to the last-gen consoles Saints Row: The Third is available on, and can get over the framerate issues, I would recommend Saints Row: The Third – The Full Package for Nintendo Switch. The main story alone houses a ton of insane and creatively-charged set pieces that hold up today, even if some of the side content and jokes don’t work anymore. That being said, if you don’t fall into any of these categories, I would wait for some optimization patches and a slight discount before picking up it up again on Nintendo Switch.