Saints Row: The Third is an action-adventure open world video game developed by Volition, Inc. and published by THQ. It was released on November 15, 2011 in Australia and North America, and was released on November 18, 2011 in Europe for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It is the third title in the Saints Row series, after the release of Saints Row 2 in 2008. As in Saints Row 2, the player controls the leader of the Third Street Saints. The game world is the fictional city of Steelport, and the story focuses on the urban gang war between the Saints and the three gangs. As the gang war intensifies, STAG (Special Tactical Anti-Gang), an elite paramilitary police force lead by Commander Cyrus Temple is deployed to Steelport in an attempt to disrupt the violence.
Saints Row: The Third retains the blend of an action-adventure in an open world, urban warfare format that is traditional in the Saints Row series. The player, as the leader of the Third Street Saints, can explore the new city of Steelport, performing main missions that progress the game's story, and side missions. These side missions include Activities, minigames, Strongholds, rival gang bases that can be taken over to control a section of Steelport and Flashpoints, on-the-spot gang warfare. Successful completion of missions can earn the player in-game money, weapons, cars, and gang respect. The Third uses respect as experience points which grant levels, the highest level being 50, which in turn enables the player to spend money on improving specific attributes of their character, such as melee combat or firearms skills. The levelling system allows the player to purchase these attributes, or 'perks', each time the player character is leveled-up, with the various attributes requiring a certain level before purchase is possible. Money can also be used to purchase clothing items, weapons and cars, or may be used to upgrade weapons and cars, such as adding scopes or extra barrels to a weapon, which are then stored in the player's arsenal. Finally, money can be used to upgrade the Saints gang, customizing their appearance, outfits, and headquarters.
The "Initiation Station" system allows players to upload their character creations to The Third's online community, and download other players' creations to use with their save game. Within The Third, the player can set up to four different appearances for their gang. Finally, money is also used to purchase shops and other properties within Steelport, which will provide a steady stream of hourly income, in game, for the gang over time.
While completing some missions, the player may be given a choice of options to finalize the mission. For example, the player has the option of using a gigantic bomb to demolish one of the enemy skyscrapers in the city; though they will gain a great deal of respect for the action, it will alter the city's skyline for the rest of the game and cause non-player characters to react differently to the player, while leaving the building standing allows it to be used as a headquarters for the Saints. New Activities have been introduced alongside many from previous Saints Row games, while others, such as Fight Club, are absent.
The player's arsenal is presented as a pop-up compass through which weapons are equipped with the analog stick. Novelty weapons are introduced alongside the traditional arsenal of handguns and automatic weapons. Players will gain the ability to call down airstrikes on encamped enemies, or to use a remote control electric bug to control vehicles remotely. Unlike the first two games, there are no health recovery items in favor of improving the grenade throwing system; in exchange, the player's health will regenerate at a faster rate as long as they stay out of the line of fire. Nearly all actions in the game can be sped up by holding down a second controller button, dubbed by Volition as the "awesome button"; for example, when carjacking, holding down this button will cause the player character to missile-kick (known in the game as the Bo-Duke-En, a reference to the The Dukes of Hazzard) the driver out of the seat in short order.
In addition to the single-player mode, the game can be played co-operatively with another player. As in Saints Row 2, the second player can participate in all missions and activities, earning credit for their completion. Certain activities provide different rules when a second player is present; for example, in the Tiger Escort activity, the second player will have to control the tiger in the backseat while the first player drives. Because of their focus on this, Volition has removed the unpopular competitive multiplayer from the title. Co-op features require an online pass.