First off it is absolutely AWESOME to see Saint's Row: The Third get such overwhelmingly positive reviews on Facebook! It definitely supports the claims that myself and a few others are making in this forum that the game is a great success in terms of both awesome gameplay, SR fan support, and the bringing into the fold of new SR fans.
Eden, clearly everyone has their opinion about SR3 and I respect those that differ from mine, but here is my opinion:
I think SR3 is fabulous, one of the best games I have ever played, and in many ways is on the level of what the GTA games used to be before IV came along. Again, this is factoring in time periods, because obviously San Andreas, let's say, did not have the PS3 and the 360 to be developed for, but that is besides the point. Yes, I believe this game has a few issues that should be addressed, BUT I also believe that many or most of these issues are inextricably tied to the fact that SR3 was created on an entirely new engine and that Volition had broken so much gameplay ground with the title, that they may have had to leave certain things out in order to make the game work properly with all the new gameplay sweetness they added.
The second thing I firmly believe is that the dozen or so people in this forum who are saying it is crap or giving it 2's out of 10 and such are NOT in any way representative of the mass gaming market and certainly not speaking for the SR fan base. I think that posting in this forum is a small fraction of both SR fans and people who have played SR games and that while they are certainly able to make a lot of noise in these threads, they are MAYBE a dozen people out of millions! Now this is not to say that nothing they are complaining about is without merit. Some things, in my opinion, should absolutely be looked at by Volition and revisited. BUT for most gamers playing SR3, I believe they think as I do, which is to say that SR3 is not perfect. It has its flaws, but the same can be said of most games, if not every game. But I believe that in the minds of the critics, most gamers who played or still play SR3, and the vast majority of SR fans, SR3 as a huge winner, an absolute gem of a gaming experience.
That said, here are some suggestions that I firmly believe would benefit SR4. However, keep in mind that NONE of these are deal breakers for me. They are just suggestions:
1. If you are going to stick with the same upgrade system with Respect purchasing upgrades, fine, it is a great system. BUT please give the player the ability to toggle on and off the upgrades! Many gamers had their saves unintentionally "broken" because they didn't read the fine print when they purchased things like invulnerability to bullets (level 4). Toggling upgrades on and off would be a huge blessing.
2. It is pretty obvious your writers left a HUGE opening to bring back Gat and Shaundi, and I firmly believe they need to do so in the next game. Look, it is very obvious to me that EVERY major SR character that has ever died, including Aisha and even the leaders of the various enemy gangs has been killed off in a way that was very dramatic and OBVIOUS they were dead. In the beginning of this game it is ONLY EVER ASSUMED that Johnny is dead because you hear a gun shot in the middle of his litany over the airplane PA system and his voice cuts off and then the plane goes down. BUT YOU NEVER SEE HIM DIE and there is no funeral. The gunshots could easily have been him shooting someone and stopping talking because he was distracted, and then he parachutes out of the plane and for whatever reason goes into hiding. MAYBE he is captured by the FBI anti gang task force and held in top secret custody unknown to the Saints. Same thing with Shaundi: All we know is that the statue blew up. HOw do we know she didn't escape before it did in that alternate ending? We don't!
3. I don't personally care much about mission replay in sandbox games, but many fans seem to want it, even the ones who love the game. So that should at least be looked at.
4. If you are going to use Steelport again you need to do two things, I believe: The first, and most important, is to breathe some effin' life into the city! While I absolutely love SR3 and can't put it down, the city of Steelport is drab and lifeless in many ways. Not completely, as some are saying, but it definitely needs some blood coursing through its veins like Stillwater had! The second thing with regard to the city is you need to seriously consider making it a lot bigger. Honestly? It seems about the size of Liberty City in GTA3, which was absolutely fine for Rockstar's first sandbox game on the PS2. But even San Andreas was on the PS2 and that city was absolutely huge! Forget Panau in Just Cause 2, in terms of making it that big, but Just Cause 2 is a great example to use because the COUNTRY is absolutely huge and the game is completely open and ungodly amazing! Panau and San Andreas are two cities that, to his very day, I love just kicking around and exploring! But even a mere 8 months post release of SR3, I feel like I have just seen it all in Steelport! The city is also quite repetitive. Again, don't worry so much about Panau sized maps, but think very hard about maybe going with a San Andreas sized map with MANY different environments. Look at how different the three cities of San Andreas all are from one another? Look at even how vastly diverse the country and desert areas are from one another. Voilition needs to think about creating a city with that kind of depth for a future SR game. Though I do understand completely if that cannot be in the cards for a game that is set to release in just over a year, which is likely close to having the map completed already.
5. Make co op that allows for many people in the room, ala Burnout Paradise! In fact, you should very seriously consider creating something similar to Paradise's "Freeburn" rooms where the host can choose what activities are done! This gave Paradise YEARS AND YEARS worth of online staying power, because it allowed for rooms with 8 people all socializing, chilling, wasting time, and doing tons of stuff. If the host wanted to do challenges, for instance, to help everyone get any of the 500 challenges, everyone would cooperate together to see what challenges people needed in the room. The host could also put up races, Stunt Runs, Marked Man, etc. etc.!! Imagine a SR game with this kind of online functionality, where the host could put up a race, which would send everyone to their garages to choose their vehicle or have the vehicle locked and chosen by the host. Imagine after the race, the host could then start something similar to a Marked Man in Paradise, where the game randomely chooses one person in the room to be hunted by everyone. Then if the person survives, for say 4 minutes, they get a point. If someone kills them, then the killer gets the point. Then the Marked Man continues for however many rounds the host wants. The host can choose a Team Deathmatch style game, or whatever. In other words, FORGET making co op and competitive different. Make one mode, call it Free Roam (instead of Freeburn) and let the host choose what activities are done with 8 people in the room!
6. You need to GO BACK to SR2 level customization in clothing and vehicles. Keep the awesome graphics, the sex apeal slider, etc. But by all means bring back layering and the HUGE HUGE HUGE wardrobe of the stores that we had in SR2.
7. While keeping all the awesome new activities (like Genki, Tank Mayhem, etc.) you should also go back to SR2 and research the most popular ones and bring them back into the next game. Things like Septic Avenger, Fuzz, etc.
8. Bring back the Jobs (fire fighter, Vigilante, Taxi, Tow Truck, etc.) only DO NOT make the Tow Truck mission so damned hard! lol
Like I said, those are some thing that I feel could be added to SR4. However, let me reiterate that I still think that SR3 is amazing. In other words, AGAIN, let me state that none of those things not being there would ruin the game for me anymore than those same complaints ruined SR3. It is still an unbelievable game to me.
****One thing that I do believe absolutely needs to be addressed by Volition AND THQ is the horrific and morally bankrupt approach to DLC where the content is locked on the disc. I think that was a huge slap in the face to the gaming community, I really do! First off, DLC should be created long AFTER the game is released. Newsflash: If it was created on time for the release of the game and locked on the disc then IT IS NOT DLC IT IS PART OF THE GAME! Leaving it out of the game made SR3, in that regard, feel incomplete. My understanding of the developer philosophy is you CRAM EVERY SINGLE LAST THING INTO THE GAME YOU CAN then you release it. If you need more time to create stuff than the release date will allow, then that AND ONLY THAT should be your DLC. If the content was created before release and intentionally left out then guess what? That indicates to me (and everyone else with a brain) that you DID NOT do what devs are supposed to do and add everything you possibly can to the game before release.