The cat's out of the bag, since E3 and we've all seen the seven minutes of pure mayhem orientated shenanigans from various video sources. Saints Row the Third promises to be the most over the top sandbox game from the Saints Row series yet. In fact it is probably the most over the top sandbox action game ever created...

Between the crotch-punching, Apoco-fist action and the violent disregard for public safety, there are some tweaked mechanics from Saints Row 2 on show here and it's shaping up rather nicely for the November release. A true no-holds barred game in every sense, the third instalment of Saints Row is promising more zany action, a whole new city called Steelport, to play around in and lots of options to play the game how you want.

Cooperative gameplay is the order of the day too, since THQ has mentioned there are no adversarial style play modes, the whole game is built from the ground-up to be a co-op experience and that is music to our ears, and especially mine. This is cemented by the hilarious use of Professor Genki's Super-Ballistic Man-a-Pult. This is basically a giant air cannon that can suck up pedestrians and then fire them at any target...

If you're thinking, HEY I bet I could do that with a co-op partner, you'd be right on the money!

Car handling has been tweaked from what we've seen, the twitchy handling of SR 2 has been replaced by a more forgiving stunt-orientated model and it looks as though some really awesome car-related driving stunts are now possible. Hand to hand has been changed too, along with flight mechanics and weapons use. Yes, there is a giant purple dildo in the game...which echoes GTA; San a good way. There are also brand new takedown animations and combat moves.

Why bother using an assault rifle, when you can call in an air strike to obliterate a gang? Why fly a simple helicopter or jet when you can fly the V.T.O.L (Vertical Take Off and Landing) jet that is basically armed with homing missiles and a microwave laser. Why bother opening the door to an expensive looking sports car, when you can kick in the side window Saints Row style and drive off in a squeal of tyre-smoke.

You can see right from the start, with the extensive character customisation options, clothing choices and wide array of diversions back from the second game, that Saints Row: The Third isn't taking itself seriously at all. THQ and Volition prefer to leave that thinking to the likes of GTA IV which set a new bar for realistic gritty sandbox games. I mean Mayhem was fun with a rocket launcher and a few grenades last time in SR 2, now they've added a tank...which is frankly one of the best things they could have done.
The visuals have taken a step up from Saints Row 2 as well, they look a lot cleaner and the draw distance seems to have improved. The pop-in and pop-out that plagued Saints Row and in some cases 2, seems to have vanished. The frame-rate looks solid and the game's visual style is in keeping with the aesthetic of the Saints Row games.

Steelport City is slightly smaller than Stillwater from Saints Row 2, but it's also bigger in terms of locations and less open spaces. There are also extensive indoor areas in the game, but we've not seen much of this yet.

All in all...with the new storyline, the new city and the new mechanics we can't wait for the third instalment of Saints Row to hit the shelves later this year. It's going to be one of the most awesome sandbox action games that have been made since the second game. Anything that emphasises player choice and lets you do what you want, gets our vote.

Naked motorcycle air-strike rampage anyone?