Saints Row: The Third Review

Genkibowl VII is a bad deal on its own and a very disappointing update for Saints Row season pass holders.

There's something to be said for the idea of driving a rampaging ball of yarn, but it feels broken.
There's something to be said for the idea of driving a rampaging ball of yarn, but it feels broken.

THQ and Volition have released a few, mostly cosmetic additions to the Saints Row: The Third since its release last year, but Genkibowl VII marks the first actual new gameplay that's been bolted onto the open world of Steelport. Unfortunately, there isn't much to it, so unless you're positively desperate for a few new side activities--most of which are light overhauls of activities that already appear in the main game--save your money.

As the name "Genkibowl" might imply, the activities found in this pack add to the legacy of the twisted Professor Genki, who runs the somewhat forgettable set of side-missions in the main game that have you running through a murderous game show, gunning down mascots until you earn enough cash to open up the exit. Two more of those missions appear in Genkibowl, albeit with a jungle-themed makeover that mostly just makes the exits harder to find. There are three more activities in this DLC pack, with two instances each. One is an altered version of the escort missions from the main game, except you're rolling around in a car armed with flamethrowers as you try to keep Professor Genki safe from harm and run people over to fill up a meter. Another takes the tank mayhem side-missions and replaces the tank with a large yarn ball that can fire off a few shockwaves. This almost gives it a Katamari Damacy sort of feel, but the control you have over the large yarn ball is kind of crappy. The ball feels like it's being crammed into the game against its will, and it seems to get hung up on corners and stuck in the environment a little too often.

The final activity is actually new, and it has you skydiving while wearing a panda suit that, for no good reason, lets you glide around without losing much altitude. This one has you doing a combination between bouncing on large balloons, flying through burning rings, and landing on the rooftops to cut up a few mascots with a chainsaw. The control is terrible. Once I got used to it, I completed both versions of the activity and took solace in the knowledge that I'd never need to do that ever again. And that's it. Eight activities, six of which lightly flip things that you already did in the main game. The best part about Saints Row: The Third is its sense of humor, and there's a bit of that here. The DLC opens and closes with some decent cutscenes, though a lot of that feeling comes from the way they expertly use the Monday Night Football theme (Johnny Pearson's "Heavy Action," not some sort of silly-ass country music). The ending cutscene has your character speak, and the ending speech is pretty funny, but he/she is wearing a panda costume that, much like the beginning of the main game, "distorts" the voice. This prevented the developers from having to record the end speech seven times to account for all the different voice options. That's pretty weak.

If you ended up with the Saints Row: The Third season pass, well, all you can do is grit your teeth and hope the next two packs are more inventive than this one. And sure, calling in a ball of yarn via the vehicle delivery function is pretty goofy, but it's not enough. THQ wants you to pay $7.00 for eight missions and a handful of mostly meaningless unlockables. That's just crazy.