Saints Row: The Third – an interview with writer Drew Holmes
It’s third time lucky for Saint’s Row and we catch up with writer Drew Holmes as he talks up SR3′s story, why it isn’t GTA and striking that fine line between funny and offensive.
OPM: Messing around with the city and the weapons is great fun, but what’s the over-arching narrative this time around?
Drew Holmes: The Saints are on top of the world – they’ve become international celebrities – and now they think that they can do anything they want. So at the start of the game they rob a bank, but that bank is owned by the Syndicate – the new bad guys we’re introducing, who control everything in the Saints Row universe from behind the scenes as the shadowy hand of evil. So the Syndicate kidnap the Saints and want to knock them down a peg, trying to incorporate them into their conglomerate of gangs. So then this big war breaks out as the Saints invade Steelport to try to get their revenge, and it all escalates from that point.
OPM: Was the plot something you felt wasn’t quite up to standard in Saints Row 2?
DH: I think our problem was that it didn’t match the crazy, open-world style. It felt a little schizophrenic that the story missions were so dark, and so the goal this time around was to have a story that matched the wacky, crazy feel of the game world itself. So it feels much more natural and the player will want to engage with the story more and see where it takes them. Previously, you had three narrative threads – but the problem was that you could never tell where the player was in terms of each story’s progression. So this time we’ve merged everything into one main thread, which means that the characters can evolve much better over the course of the game. However, players will still have the opportunity to customise their experience, as at the end of every act there’ll be a narrative choice to make – do I want to blow up this building or save it for myself, for instance.
OPM: How do you address the issue of mission variety, which is sometimes lacking in open-world games?
DH: We wanted to have what we call a ‘big, “holy shit!” moment’ in each one of our story missions – which not only helps people to remember what’s actually going on in the story, but also makes them want to play the next mission in order to see what’s going to happen. We want something unique and cool and custom; something that you can’t pulloff in the open-world environment in each core mission.