PC Gamer
Stalker Call of Pripyat
A Ukranian news site is reporting that the developers of Stalker and Stalker 2, GSC have shut down their studio. An "informed source" told them that founder and CEO, Sergei Grigorovich made the announcement at a staff meeting, saying that the company was closing because of unspecified "personal reasons." RPS spotted a tweet from the company denying that GSC has been closed, but that has since been deleted. If true, it would be a sudden and very sad turn of events. We'll know what's happening for certain when GSC make official comment.
PC Gamer
Saints Row The Third dildo attack
The innocent bystander you just murdered with a giant dildo in Saints Row: The Third isn't alone. He shares a special circle of gaming hell occupied by 1,999,999 other victims who suffered the same terrible fate.

That's just one of the stats turned up by a new post on the Saints Row: The Third site, spotted on Shacknews. 5.8 million player deaths have been recorded across the city, 44 million foes have been killed in Whored Mode, 650 hot dog mascots have been flamethrowered to death and players have collectively spent two years "streaking the streets of Steelport and making old ladies scream." You monsters.

But how many hours have been spent rushing around Steelport as a toilet? I have no idea. Whatever the number, it's not high enough. Follow Graham's guide to being a toilet in Saints Row: The Third to help boost the tally. For the Saints!
PC Gamer

Saints Row 3 is the unrestricted id of gaming smeared across an open world city. It's brash, juvenile, violent and obsessed with toilet humour. So much so that you can play the game as a toilet.

Watch the video above, and then read on for how you can easily do it yourself in an instant and without mods.

The game's character creator is tremendously powerful, letting you play the entire game as the hideous chubby manbaby of your dreams. To help people share their best creations with the world, there's a Saints Row 3 community site where you can upload and download those creations. There are a ton on there, with all the inevitable copyright infringement and naked people you'd expect. But there's also the toilet.

The toilet wasn't created by another player, but is one of the rewards you get for completing the game. Why wait till then? As the video above shows, there is no better way to experience Saints Row 3's cutscenes for the first time than as a feisty hispanic toilet.

To get the character for yourself, simply sign up at the Saints Row 3 community site, visit the Toilet character page, and click "Add to queue". Then, when creating a new character at the start of the game or via one of the city's cosmetic surgery shops, select the option to connect to saintsrow3.com. It'll hook up with your account on that site, and a short while after you added it to your queue, the toilet will be available to select. Enjoy!
PC Gamer

Several days after it was released for the rest of the world Saints Row: The Third has come out in the UK. Huzzah! Now we can finally experience all the fun Tom S had in our Saints Row 3 review! However, like several other recent games, it's missing from the steam store in the UK. Boo! Hiss! This sadly means UK players won't be able to get the Saints Row 3 Team Fortress 2 promotional items. You can, however, still buy the game digitally via Gamersgate, Direct2Drive or Origin.

Once again, we wish we knew why steam is being affected by these absences and no-one else is, but we're being kept in the dark as much as you are. Rest assured, if we ever find out, we'll let you know.
PC Gamer

Saints Row 3 has been released in North America and VG247 have spotted a demented celebratory launch trailer. This one is short but sweet, at least compared to the earlier seven minute gameplay trailer. Pay careful attention and you'll spot some of the highlights mentioned in Tom S's Saints Row 3 review. The autotuned pimp is hard to miss, but the car tiger and the cloned Russian super soldiers only appear briefly. That sentence really tells you everything you need to know about Saints Row: The Third.

Those of you outside the UK must have your hands on Saints Row by now, what do you think?
PC Gamer
Congratulations to Logan Tenhet of Tennessee! He's the randomly selected winner of this blinged-out, custom-painted Saints Row: The Third gaming rig, courtesy of THQ. It always makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside to see an awesome prize like this go to a deserving guy like Logan, who says he's been reading PC Gamer since way back in 1995. We know he'll give it a good home.

Now is a fantastic time to have a new PC, since it'll play not just the hilariously great Saints Row: The Third, but also the amazingly awesome Skyrim, the mind-blowingly pretty Battlefield 3, and (eventually) the irritatingly tardy but inevitably awesome Batman: Arkham City.
PC Gamer
Saints Row DLC thumbnail
We just noticed that there's already some Saints Row: The Third downloadable content available on Steam. Only not all of it is actually content.

The Shark Attack Pack is priced at $1.99. You get a hat and the Shark-O-Matic - a weapon that shoots out "a steady steam of fish guts," for your cash. We've spent money on hats and weapons before. That sounds like content.

Then there's The Season Pass, which grants you access to future mission packs. You also get to use all the costumes and vehicles featured in the in game television drama, Nyte Blayde. It'll set you back a hefty $20. New missions and items? That sounds like content.

The Invincible DLC costs $2.99. It'll make you extra limber, and provide you with infinite ammo and better health. It'll also give your vehicles "Infinite Mass." Wait! That doesn't sound like content at all! That sounds like cheats you have to pay cash for. Booo. Here's the full blurb from the product page:

"Never worry about dying or running out of ammo! Unlock the Get Down Cheat that makes you ultra limber. Super Saints gives you better guns and better health while Ultimate Clip ensures that you're always ready to fire. Get Infinite Mass for your vehicle plus Super Explosions and you'll be ready for anything!

We'll just wait for the mods thanks THQ, you cheeky little devils.
PC Gamer
Saints Row 3 Thumbnail
UPDATE - It turns out Saints Row is available in the rest of Europe, only the UK has to wait till Friday. Apologies to those of you on the continent for assuming we were in the same boat.

Saints Row: The Third has been released! For North Americans at least, those of us in Europe the UK must instead wait and silently curse until Friday. They'll also get their hands on the Saints Row 3 Team Fortress items, while UK citizens must once again suffer the indignity of seeing a game go missing from our Steam store.

What's that? You'd like to know how good the game is? Why it's 83 good! As scientifically determined by Tom Senior in our Saints Row: The Third review. Go read it! It's a tale of tigers, naked Russian men and autotuned pimps.
PC Gamer
Saints Row Heavy
With Team Fortress 2 items appearing in Saints Row, it was only a matter of time before the reverse also became true. Now Joystiq have spotted a post on the TF2 blog that reveals new TF2 items for those that pre-order Saints Row: The Third over steam.

The bonuses take the form of a new outfit for the Heavy, giving him a diamond encrusted Lucha Libre mask, a pair of bling covered boxing gloves and a Saints Row fleur-de-lis badge (which can also be worn by other classes). The TF2 blog claims it's a faithful recreation of the outfit Mikhail Gorbachev wore when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990... er... indeed.

Sadly, getting hold of this outfit will be problematic for UK users, as Saints Row: The Third is yet another game that is inexplicably missing from steam in the UK. As ever, we're trying to get to the bottom of this story, but no-one is willing to talk to us about it.
PC Gamer
Saints Row 3 review thumb
You really know you’ve made it in the underworld when you find yourself partying in a penthouse with an army of pink ninja bodyguards. In Saints Row: The Third, I’d achieved this within two hours. That’s it, I’m on top of the world, ma. No-one’s gonna bring me down.

Then the minigun wielding ogre clones showed up. In this free roaming city sandbox, you can never predict the future.

It’s worth saying right now that this is the stupidest game I’ve ever played. I mean that in a good way. If you find yourself demanding reasonable answers to questions like: “Why does the tiger in my car calm down when I do power slides?” or: “Why am I being chased by carts pulled by gimps, and why did they just explode?” then you should steer clear of this ramshackle madness. If, however, everything described so far sounds like the best game ever made, then Saints Row: The Third was built exactly for you.

The world’s most media savvy crime syndicate – the titular Saints – are back. But they’ve fled their home town of Stilwater to find their fortune in the city of Steelport: a generic neon metropolis studded with warped versions of American architectural landmarks. The opening scene has you and returning Saints Row heroes Shaundi and Johnny Gat dressing up as bigheaded versions of yourselves in order to rob a bank. The Saints have come along way from the grimy back alley thugs they were in the first game. They’re international superstars now. Your hostages ask for autographs as your team politely fills the money bags.

Then the women in trench coats attack. The Saints aren’t the only gang in town. The pompous Syndicate are the head honchos, and they demand that the Saints give over two thirds of all their Steelport profits to continue operating in the town. Your pal Johnny Gat politely declines by ramming their leader’s head through a plane window. One free-fall later, you’re on the streets of Steelport, and the whole city is unlocked, ready to be conquered.

Your mobile phone is the hub by which you accept new missions, check your bank balance, set waypoint locations and buy new upgrades for you and your gang. Important gang members will appear in your mission list when they have a ludicrous new task for you to perform. Completing these will unlock new safehouses and put you in contact with new gang members based in different parts of the city, unlocking more missions and furthering your quest to win over Steelport. Three gangs make up the organised crime syndicate that stands in your way, the slick European gunrunners known as the Morning Star, a lime green gang of Mexican wrestlers, The Luchadores, and the cyberpunk hackers that call themselves The Deckers.

Missions can be separated into activities and story missions. Activities are short, sharp tasks, and vary in quality immensely. Tank Mayhem throws you into a tank and asks you to roam Steelport’s streets, doing hundreds of thousands of dollars of gleeful damage within five minutes. A less stimulating task has you dangling from a helicopter with a sniper rifle, shooting enemies off the tail of a fellow gang member half a mile away. Even if they’re wading through the corpses of their nearest and dearest, enemy gang members will be completely unaware that they’re being sniped, and the perfect accuracy of the rifle make this a dull turkey shoot. Not good.

But then there’s Insurance Fraud. You drive out to a given crossroad, and must charge into oncoming traffic. Left clicking at the right moment to have your character ragdoll face first into the oncoming car. The more damage you take, the more money you get. Take enough punishment and you enter adrenaline mode, which lets you steer your flailing corpse in midair, letting you swerve into the path of more cars, racking up more and more insurance money. Brilliant.

Completing each mission unlocks it as a repeatable challenge on the city map. You can drive back to each location to kick off ever harder versions of the original mission for extra money. For me, only a handful survived the novelty of the first play through. The mad, mascot-slaying gauntlet that is Professor Genki’s Super Ethical Reality Climax was one of the highlights. The minigame in which I had to cruise through a dull, undulating track on a Tron light cycle dodging firewalls wasn’t. Saints Row’s activities are wildly variable, but short enough to let you blast through the naff ones.

For every few you complete, you’ll get access to a hefty story mission in which the Saints fend off a major attack from one of the three rival gangs of Steelport, or strike out to take some territory for themselves. These missions contain some of The Third’s finest moments. Diving out of a helicopter into a penthouse swimming pool in the middle of a rival gang party, and then wading out with a rocket launcher to the sound of Power by Kanye West was one. Taking cover behind an angry, naked Russian ogre man to do battle with an army of clones was another.

Story missions also put you in touch with Saints Row’s surprisingly funny cast of characters. Some are just jerks. Fine, they’re all jerks – but you’ll separate the ones you can’t stand and the ones you’ll choose to drive around with you based on how much of their schtick you can handle. The pimp who speaks entirely in autotune is amusing for the first two missions, then I endeavoured never to meet him again. On a more socially acceptable level, the vengeful Shaundi makes a welcome return from the second game, and the seven foot tall, turtle neck wearing Oleg is a lovable addition.

The humour blends a shock and awe assault of nudity and narcotics jokes with some knowing, clever oneliners: “When will the rescue chopper arrive?” “Oh, in about two waves of SWAT guys”. I teetered on the brink of genuine offence throughout, but stayed on the happy side of disgusted. True, it’s a game that lets you hit an innocent pedestrian fatally in the face with a huge purple dildo, but you can’t hire a hooker, drive her into the middle of nowhere and shoot her. And there are no women-slapping quick time events, or any of the other moments of nastiness that GTA slips under the radar in the name of parody.

The ridiculous, funny, disgusting balance that Saints Row strikes with its characters, and the all-in attitude to mission objectives, forms the glue that holds the whole thing together. Considered in isolation, its mechanics are solid at best. The driving is easy and fast, even if the cars feel a little weightless. Choppers are powerful but sluggish and the shooting is almost laughably easy at points. My most powerful weapon for the first third of the game was the pistol. You’ll be able to wipe out a room by chaining together headshots: these enemies like to cluster together and all seem to be exactly the same height. It gets around this later by throwing huge hordes of stupid but determined opponents your way. They come skidding up in decked out cars, mounted in trucks, sniping from helicopters, sliding around on rollerskates, and as you progress you gain access to ever more powerful weaponry, like UAV drones and a gloriously destructive shock hammer. The combat in The Third is rarely challenging, but it does get pretty spectacular.

This over the top combat forms the basis of Saints Row: The Third’s co-op survival Whored Mode (aping the Gears of Wars Horde Mode). It’s a good way to get into a fast fight, but it’s been made redundant by the fact that a friend can jump into your campaign at any time to play. The addition of co-op only adds to the playground feel of the city. You can start huge, escalating fights with any of the three gangs by wading into their territory and shooting them. If you’re not concerned with the story you can buy the local establishments in each territory, boosting your hourly salary and earning you discounts in shops. Unlocked safehouses can be expanded and customised, there’s a brain melting array of costume options available, and you can even buy upgrades for you and your gang’s vehicles.

It’s mad. In fact, it barely makes any sense at all. But for all its wonky bits, there’s an odd charm to Volition’s decision to leave nothing on the drawing board. It’s not the largest sandbox, but it is packed full of brilliant toys. Saints Row: The Third’s commitment to unrestricted, ridiculous fun is unflinching, and the product is a city full of glorious slapstick debauchery.

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