I kicked off E3 in style, sitting in a fake private jet to check out the opening of Saints Row: The Third. My thoughts leaving the demonstration consist of believing it to look almost exactly like Saints Row 2, and believing that to be an incredibly good thing.
After demolishing Ultor in Saints Row 2, The Third Street Saints have become decadent celebrities. They've taken over Ultor as a company and now their brand appears on clothing and via energy drinks. There are even bobble-heads of prominent Saints members.
Despite having sold out, the gang still robs banks and commits atrocity in the name of cash and respect, and have become so powerful that the cops don't touch them. Until the game starts, that is, and a powerful new group called The Syndicate (led by a man who resembles EA CEO John Riccitiello) has moved in. The Saints are arrested so they can be captured by the new organization, and negotiations begin.
With The Player and his Saints held captive, the Syndicate offers a deal -- The Saints can continue to run Stillwater if the new gang gets 66% of the profits. Obviously, there's no deal, and Saints lieutenant Johnny Gat breaks free, ramming the Syndicate leader's head into a window. As he holds off the gang's forces, Player and Shaundi escape.
From here, combat resembles that of Saints Row 2 quite closely. Brawling consists of shoulder button presses, which can be timed for brutal finishing moves such as headstomps. Likewise, the ranged combat is very much the same, but the amount of enemies and the chaotic background makes the fighting appear much more intense.
After blasting through the plane's interior (with Johnny Gat trying to pilot the plane and cracking wise over the speakers) it becomes clear that it's too dangerous to stay aboard. With a parachute on his back, Player jumps ... but Shaundi doesn't have the same benefit. What follows is a freefalling section as Player tries to rescue his girlfriend (as the game implies) and fight off other Syndicate gangsters as they give chase.
As you might expect, this segment is utterly ludicrous. Player is first viewed from above as he avoids debris and falling cargo, then the camera spins upward so he can shoot at enemies. It finally settles on a side view, where the combat continues.
Eventually, Player catches Shaundi, but the plane begins to turn in the background and attempts to ram into the heroes. Player does what any noble man would do -- he throws Shaundi away, turns around, and dives through the plane's front windshield! He blasts through the plane, shoots at the remaining enemies, falls back through the cargo doors, and enters a second freefalling section, with more debris evasion and enemy blasting.
He catches Shaundi again and she rightly calls him an asshole.
This is the game's opener, and it does an excellent job of letting players know just how damn ludicrous the game is. The sense of silliness and the desire to make players feel like total pimps is intact, and that is really all I could ask.
I want Saints Row bigger, badder and more stupid than ever before. Seems I am getting what I want.