THQ’s Brian Farrell: Saints Row 3 Will Make Up For Lack Of GTA V

When it comes to vast, open-world shooters, the king of the block is the Grand Theft Auto series; rightfully so since GTA III practically defined the genre single-handedly. There have been a ton of GTA clones since 2001 but the only series to come reasonably close to capturing the magic of what makes GTA games work is the Saints Row series. 2006′s Saints Row was a competent, if unbalanced GTA clone that managed to steal the best bits of GTA convention and add some excess and hilarity.

Saints Row wasn’t the most memorable game, but it passed the time between San Andreas and GTA IV well enough that the inevitable sequel was produced. That game, Saints Row 2, was a surprising triumph; epic in scope, ridiculously over the top and amoral to the extreme it was a direct challenge to the gritty seriousness of GTA IV. While Saints Row 2 didn’t approach the artistic success (for lack of a better way to put it) of GTA IV, it nonetheless differentiated the series from Rockstar’s flagship handily with memorable characters, insanely fun missions and sidequests, and a gleeful embrace of ultraviolent mayhem that the GTA series hadn’t had since 2002′s Vice City. It was the perfect dessert from GTA IV’s more serious take on crime games, and 3 years later I still play the hell out of it.

Which is why I can’t wait until later this year’s Saints Row The Third. Sure, the series willnever reach the same heights, artistic or financial that GTA has, but as Rockstar appears to be focusing on higher concept open world games like Red Dead Redemption and L.A. Noire, they have for the time being left the open-world crime game field open for THQ to exploit. THQ boss Brian Farrell thinks this is a good thing, and in an interview with Industrygamers, he expounded on just why that is:

Over the last several years the [GTA and Saints Row] franchises have gone in totally different directions. I think to real gamers who love the Open World games, they buy both. I respect what Rockstar does with GTA, I love the last game, but compare that to Saints Row and the over the top, in your face, wacky humor, lots of stuff going on, irreverence, tongue in cheek. It’s really just positioned very differently, and so we think the opportunity is when you look at the competitive set this fall… Yeah there’s a couple of big shooters but after that, given the pent up demand we think there is for Saints Row, and that type of game, we think it’s an awesome opportunity…”

(Read the whole post here.)

Is he right? While speculation about GTA V continues apace, it’s been more than 2 years since the last Grand Theft Auto branded game was released. No E3 announcement is rumored which means it will likely be late 2012 at the earliest that we’ll see it. That 3 year gap is the longest Rockstar has ever gone without a new GTA game. I definitely have a urgent need for a new title in the genre and you can bet I’ll be playing SR3 the second it’s out. But the GTA brand is still king and Saints Row, despite selling a respectable series-total of more than 5 million copies, will always be seen as second best.

I’m anticipating that Saints Row The Third will be great, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it at E3. Until then, I’ll file Farrell’s comments under ‘possibly too optimistic.’

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