One of THQ’s last works was Saints Row: The Third, in the same way that one of Jesus’ last works was the salvation of mankind. Saints Row 3 wasn’t a game; it was apotheosis. That THQ could go bankrupt after making this is proof that there is no justice in the world. They took Grand Theft Auto and turned it into something you’d actually play for fun, instead of a sense of duty to impressive technical achievement.
The game escalated like oral sex in a launching space shuttle and featured more burning fuel. The first mission airlifts a bank vault, the second flying-kicks right through a (now exploding) jumbo jet, and after only three levels of driving cars, your character says, “Screw this, get me the tank.” No grinding, no game-long unlocks — the game gives you everything it can think of as soon as it can, then gives you jetbikes and a TRON cannon, too. This game even achieves the impossible by making escort missions fun, because your driving style is affected by whether your passenger is receiving oral sex or being a goddamn tiger.
Saints Row 3 knows it’s a game and loves it. If you’re within 10 square meters of a car and press “steal,” you immediately leap headfirst through the windscreen to take it, because fuck moving around to get into the right position. Just like a lack of tigers or grinding boringly until you’re done, their design document was “If you don’t want it during sex, you don’t want it during this game.” If you’re in the water for longer than a second, you can teleport to shore. Getting within half a block of a mission objective triggers it. It’s almost like the developers actually played the game and got rid of all the problems. Saints Row 3 should be a compulsory part of beta testing. ALL beta testing. Every other developer should be made to finish their work, play Saints Row 3, then go back and fix their game.
Saints Row shouldn’t just have made money. Saints Row should have made everyone connected with the game immortal. Like the Holy Grail, it simply cured the ills of anything it was exposed to. THQ’s studio Volition Inc. shouldn’t be bought by another company; they should be granted executive freedom to remake every other game on the planet. They’d make Final Fantasy role-playing games where you actually play a role again, instead of wearing improbable clothes down endless straight paths like the world’s worst and longest catwalk. They’d make an Assassin’s Creed where you spend most of your time actually killing people. Hell, they could probably make a new Madden game that was actually worth another $60.