There may have been some errors introduced while converting this to table format. Let me know if you see anything wrong, or if you have any ideas for things I should count that I've missed.
Comments can be left at the bottom of the page - you don't need an account.
I'll be updating this after Saints Row IV comes out - once I've counted everything. I fully expect SRIV to win over SRTT, but I don't know how it will compare to SR2.
Note: Hover your mouse cursor over the little  references to see what they say.
Hype ruins games. Hype is used to sell inferior products that cannot stand on their own merits.
Reviews based on opinions suck because subjective opinions suck because opinions can be wrong.
I want to know whether Saints Row: The Third is better than Saints Row 2, not whether someone thinks it's better.
So, in this post, I'm going to objectively compare the features of each game to find out which game is the best in the series.
I've seen a lot of posts bagging Saints Row: The Third, mostly playing up the downsides, with the upsides receiving little attention.
I was originally thinking of simply making a positive post, talking about the ways in which Saints Row: The Third has improved on past games in the series, and I still may do that in future.
The definition of "good"
While it's easy to say "Whenever you compare something, it's still just an opinion", this is not necessary correct.
Applying to appalling apples
Say Bob has 2 apples, identical except for the size. One is large, and one is small. Bob has taken a bite of both, they taste exactly the same. I say that "the larger apple is better, due to the fact there is more of it". Bob says that that is just my opinion and that he thinks the smaller one is better. Bob is an idiot with serious problems coping with reality. If you're reality-challenged like Bob, please seek professional help. Maybe Bob isn't very hungry and can only eat a small apple: that is his opinion. Maybe Bob hates apples, and therefore a smaller apple is less appalling to him, this is again an opinion. Bob's opinion of apples is irrelevant, what matters are the features of the apple itself.
Storyline and graphics do not define a good game. Gameplay defines a game. There are things which have excellent story and graphics, but contain no gameplay. They are called films. While there are many amazing cinematic games, calling them good games due to their movie-like features is like judging an apple on it's baseball-like features.
While story and graphics are certainly important elements, games by definition are things which have player interaction, therefore, gameplay is the most important part of a video game, and games with more gameplay and features are better overall. More gameplay features = larger apple. If you don't like gameplay, then you should see a movie or eat an orange instead of reviewing games.
Graphics can be directly compared, but they are essentially a side effect of the current state of hardware. Comparing graphics of games really only matters when comparing games released at the same time. Using graphics as a comparison between sequels doesn't make any sense, as later games in a series will almost always contain better graphics.
While all 3 games in the Saints Row series are on the Xbox 360 platform and therefore use the same hardware, there have been advances in the technology used to create the games. While it's technically possible for Saints Row: The Third to have been created in 2006, the development time would have been much longer, and more expensive in terms of the development hardware and software used.
Comparing storyline between different games, or films, is a subjective matter. Some people may simply prefer the narrative of Saints Row better. The only way to objectively compare storyline is to check off plot points, but the fact that one game may contain more plot twists does not mean it is a better story, so it's not a useful thing to compare. Many old-school games had no storyline, but are still considered excellent games today. Tetris, anyone?
Some people like to use the time it takes to complete a game, or the time they play a game until they get bored. In an open world game, the number of hours which can be spent playing varies wildly. Do you count the number of hours until the credits play, or the number of hours until 100% completion, or the number of hours until maxing every feature even when not included in 100% Completion? As the time it takes to complete a game varies on playing style, it's not a useful metric.
Gameplay elements and features are basically the only thing which can be directly compared. The more features, the better the game. Another way to think of it is like a jigsaw puzzle.
- Graphics and Storyline are the picture within the puzzle - the picture has no direct relation to how "good" the puzzle is, only how pretty it is.
- Gameplay features are the puzzle pieces which make up a game.
- Some people may prefer a 50 piece puzzle over a 1000 piece puzzle.
- A 1000 piece puzzle is more challenging, and requires more time to complete.
- A 50 piece puzzle is less challenging, and requires less time to complete.
I don't know about you, but when I'm shopping for jigsaw puzzles, I don't waste time looking at pictures of Apples on 50 piece puzzles, the first thing I look at is the piece count, then I look at the pictures. If I just want a pretty picture, I'll buy a painting in a frame - or see a film.
Some people may prefer a less challenging puzzle with less pieces which requires less skill and less time. I think that's why the game comes with multiple difficulty levels. As far as I'm concerned, "This game sucks because there's too much to do" isn't a valid complaint. While there are games which I don't prefer because they're "too complicated" and require a lot of un-fun micromanagement, I'm not going to call them "bad games" because of it. I'm sure there are plenty of people who love economic simulators and finding the bow-tie which gives you the most cool points, and to whom those games aren't complex enough.
- I've taken a great deal of care with my totals, but if you notice something wrong, or think I should add something, let me know and I'll do a re-count.
- The Wins columns are running totals.
- Draws are counted as wins, but also tallied so they can be optionally deducted from the total for comparison.
- Since online content and DLC are optional and require additional payment, they will be counted separately, as they are not features of the standalone game. Numbers in parentheses indicate extra DLC counts which are not counted in the totals.
|SR||SR2||SRTT||Wins||Draws||SR and SRTT |
|Activities & Diversions |
|Diversions Total ||25||11||5|
|Diversions Returning ||3||7||1|
|Characters||27||38 (+2)||22 (+10)||7||6|
|Cars||80||95 (+7)||65 (+8)||12||9|
|Non-cars||0||30 (+7)||20 (+5)||13||2|
|New Radio Stations||12||5||3||6||11|
|Homies ||7||9 (+1)||24 (+10)||4||13|
|Phone Numbers ||28||34||0||30||15|
|Cellphone Menu ||4||4||9||6||16|
|Other open Buildings ||(10+)||(29+)||(5+)||44||23|
|Forgive and Forget||Yes||Yes||No||11||45||5||25|
Based on clear wins, Saints Row: The Third has certainly lived up to the title by coming in third place.
Looking at it like a jigsaw, Saints Row is a 740 piece puzzle, Saints Row 2 is a 1015 piece puzzle, and Saints Row: The Third is a 695 piece puzzle.
While Saints Row: The Third is clearly superior than Saints Row in many respects, Saints Row 2 is more superior in almost all of those cases, which is why "The Third" came third overall. Even when comparing Saints Row directly with Saints Row: The Third, Saints Rowstill wins. Saints Row is at a slight disadvantage as it automatically scores 0 in "returning" fields, but overall, the reason Saints Row wins over Saints Row: The Third, is because Saints Row: The Third contains fewer improvements and retains fewer features from previous games.
The areas in which Saints Row: The Third wins are:
- Homies - Saints Row: The Third legitimately is better than Saints Row 2 regarding Homies, as there are simply more available.
- Achievements - Saints Row: The Third has more offline achievements. (Mostly due to the fact that Competitive Multiplayer was removed.)
- Weapon Upgrades - Saints Row: The Third allows weapons to be upgraded for in-game cash, increasing various weapon statistics.
- Cellphone - Saints Row: The Third combines multiple elements from various other menus into a single Cellphone menu. (The loss of arbitrarily dialling Stores means that this point doesn't change anything.)
- Returning features
- Returning Diversions - these are features which Saints Row: The Third kept from Saints Row 2. Not exactly an improvement, SRTT simply didn't get worse than Saints Row 2 in this regard.
- Cruise Control - a feature which was kept - draw with Saints Row 2.
- Fine Aim - a feature which was kept - draw with Saints Row 2.
- Human Shield - a feature which was kept - draw with Saints Row 2.
- Parachute - a feature which was kept - draw with Saints Row 2.
- DLC - All DLC "win" are really losses, as they increase the cost of the game.
- DLC on disc - 12 DLC packs are included on the disc, and require additional payment to unlock. 
- Total DLC available - More DLC overall.
- DLC Achievements - Also more achievements per DLC.
- There are several DLC elements which have not tallied. Saints Row: The Third has the most DLC Unlockables, Weapons, Character and Homies by virtue of having the most DLC available.
- There is no contest that Saints Row: The Third has the most content available for additional payment.
- Viewer packs are not counted as "free" DLC, as they are compatibility packs only, and add nothing to the base game.
- Multiplayer - Offline multiplayer has been completely crippled in Saints Row: The Third because all forms of multiplayer require online activation. You need to go online, to play offline. -100 points.
I didn't overly think about the scoring system before beginning the count, I just went with what made sense.
But I think it's important to analyse the scoring system to find out how it works, and why Saints Row: The Third scored poorly.
According to the criteria in this table, the way in which a sequel is "better" is when it builds upon previous games. Features should not be removed without adding new content to replace it. The vehicles field is a good example
- Saints Row 2 kept 58 of the 80 in Saints Row, but replaced the missing 22 with 67 new vehicles.
- Saints Row: The Third kept 55 of the 125 in Saints Row 2, and replaced the missing 70 with 30 new vehicles.
The two factors in this score are Total content and New content.
- Saints Row gets 160 points (80 + 80)
- Saints Row 2 gets 192 points (125 + 67)
- Saints Row: The Third only gets 115 points. (85 + 30)
Ways Saints Row: The Third could have scored better:
- Replacing 22 vehicles with 67 vehicles = 237 points. (Same new content as SR2, but more in total)
- Replacing 70 removed vehicles with 70 new = 195 points. (Same total as SR2, but more new content)
- Replacing all 125 vehicles with 100 new vehicles = 200 points. (Fewer in total, more new content)
This is just an example, but it illustrates that it was not impossible for Saints Row: The Third to score better.
Simply put: Saints Row 2 increased both factors, and Saints Row: The Third decreased both factors.
Some may say it is harder for sequels to innovate. I agree, but contend that removing features is not innovation.
The bottom line is that features were removed and the absence of those features was noticeable.
These same criteria could be used to compare games in the Saints Row series to other games.
I don't care enough about it to embark on a comparison myself, it would be interesting to see a similar table comparing all 3 games in the Saints Row series to GTA: San Andreas and GTA IV. Based objectively on numbers, I believe Saints Row probably has more features.
- ↑ This is an example reference, for reference
- ↑ I've never been a big fan of hype in general. I mostly played games that were currently available, and didn't pay any attention to upcoming games, until Doom 3, for which I upgraded my computer, but I don't recall any overblown hype. Doom 3 lived up to my expectations. As I was a big fan of System Shock 2, I had also been watching for a sequel for before Bioshock was ever announced. I followed Bioshock's progress, watched the trailers, and was thoroughly disappointed when the game came out, because it did not live up to the hype. If not for the hype, it would have been a great game, but they advertised it as being better than it actually was.
- ↑ Heavily opinionated reviews work for some people if you already know you share the same general opinions as the reviewer. For instance, I enjoy Zero Punctuation, Yahtzee's reviews of Bioshock and GTA:IV echoed exactly what I thought when I played them, so when he reviewed Saints Row 2, I went straight out and bought it. His review of Saints Row: The Third wasn't as flattering.
- ↑ Note written after review: Rightly so, since SRTT subtracted more than it added.
- ↑ There are several things which I think are genuinely well done, such as City Takeover. As far as I can tell at this time, there are many other things which outweigh the good parts. Forced filler activities and lack of replays are the major ones.
- ↑ My original thought was to just make a post lauding City Takeover and other improvements, but as I was beginning to create a table comparing which vehicles are available in which games, I realised that that format could also be used to compare all game features and decided to do this post. In the end, the vehicle table was much simpler to do automatically, and is now here: Category:Vehicles
- ↑ Since time taken to complete is generally a side-effect of volume of gameplay, this review can probably be used to judge the relative time to finish each game.
- ↑ Do you eat apples quickly, or take your time to enjoy the flavour? There's no really a good analogy for this, but I personally spent many hours just mucking around in the game at high Notoriety - and always have done since GTA1. One thing that Saints Row: The Third has done right is Gang Operations and Survival, random gang battles are fun, and after completing them you have a choice whether to keep fighting or go do something else.
- ↑ This analogy came after the review, but before the apples. A car analogy simply wouldn't work in any context.
- ↑ Impossipuzzles notwithstanding
- ↑ Come to think of it, I've only ever bought jigsaws puzzles as gifts for others
- ↑ To me, a game like System Shock 2 is near perfect in the level of complexity, while a game like Vampire the Masquerade: Redemption is too micromanagey. On the other hand, Bioshock dumbed things down far too much in regard to all the features which SS2 had. GTA:IV would be another example of a game which dumped many of the features found in the previous game, San Andreas. While the eating/working out element of San Andreas was something which not everyone liked, removing it entirely was the wrong decision, it would have been better to have it as an option, something you could do, but something you were not forced to do. Instead, they forced you to hang out with your cousin, something else that people disliked. In Saints Row 1 and 2, there are many things which are completely optional, you have a choice between which activities you complete.
- ↑ Number of apples in the Saints Row series: 0, 0, 0
- ↑ But seriously, recounts will only be done if useful. Counting VTOLs in each game isn't useful. If they were counted as "aircraft", they would still lose to SR2. It is slightly unfair to count "non-cars", since SR1 contains 0 "non-cars", but since other vehicle types were originally planned, but scrapped as they didn't have time, I think it's fair enough.
- ↑ I recounted the draws after the first count, but then discovered they didn't change anything anyway.
- ↑ I originally separately DLC counts because I thought they would give SRTT an unfair advantage. As it turns out, it doesn't make that much of a difference.
- ↑ Deathmatch between SR1 and SR3 - "Returning" fields will not be counted, as that would mean many automatic wins for SRTT. This is "Totals" and "Features" only.
- ↑ Activities which must be completed in order to unlock missions are not missions, even if they're listed in the cellphone and counted as a mission in the statistics. This was a dirty tactic and points should be removed from SRTT for doing it. If SRTT's "activity missions" were to be counted, the minimum number of activities to earn enough respect to play all missions in SR and SR2 should also be counted, as they are also "Activities which must be completed in order to unlock missions"
- ↑ Wins are not tallied for "Activities and Diversions" as they would be double counted.
- ↑ Strictly, if the definition of "Diversions" was retroactively applied to SR, there are several "Non-icon activities" which could be counted as diversions. SR would still come 1st for total activities, and would still be 3rd for Diversions, so it doesn't really matter.
- ↑ How can there be returning diversions in SR2 if there were none in SR? Because they're still counted as returning diversions even if they were previously activities
- ↑ Clothing and Jewellery counts are combined because there is a blurred line between Clothing and Jewellery, as some items bought at Clothing stores follow Jewellery pricing rules, and in Saints Row: The Third, there are no Jewellery Stores.
- ↑ You know what would have been a good idea for SRTT with all of those Homies? A "Recent calls" menu, as found in all real mobile phones over the last 10 years.
- ↑ I think the DLC cheats are counted in the total for SRTT.
- ↑ A cellphone without the ability to dial? -100 points for SRTT.
- ↑ I gave Saints Row: The Third a free win here, although it did remove the dialler, there are more menu options in the cellphone. Most of the extra buttons are things which were previously in the pause menu, but integration with the cellphone was a good idea, although points should be deducted for "Saintsbook".
- ↑ As you may or may not have guessed at this point, most of the counts are based on the pages, or at least lists, which are on this wiki. We have some really detailed and accurate lists, but we are missing a lot of pages on enterable buildings. Many mission-specific buildings are enterable at all times, and should be included. I think it's safe to say that Saints Row 2 still has more interiors.
- ↑ You may think that this is unfair as "Theatres were replaced by Televisions and Newspaper Clipboards", but the simple fact is that they were a Store which was removed, and sequels should be penalised for removing features.
- ↑ "New" fields are counted, but not "returning" fields, as they are unfair towards Saints Row. Duplicate subsections are not counted. ("Total vehicles" is counted, but "total cars" isn't.) Individual vehicle customizations are also excluded from this count.
- ↑ Although apparently some people complain about this, as they never use most of the Homies. Just because there is something in the game which you do not use, doesn't mean it's a bad game. I'm sure many people don't bother with the Stunt Jumps, particularly as there is no rewards, is the game worse because they are there?
- ↑ Oh, a car analogy works for this one: When you buy a car, it either has an air conditioner or it does not, no car contains an air conditioner which requires you to pay extra before you can use it.
- ↑ And to prove the system isn't rigged. I really didn't go into this to prove Saints Row: The Third was worse.
- ↑ Any fanboy who claims that one game is objectively better than the other should put their numbers where their mouth is.