Saints Row: The Third Remastered PC technical review – Lighting in a bottle

Saints Row: The Third Remastered PC technical review - Lighting in a bottle

Saints Row: The Third Remastered makes its way to PCs via the Epic Games Store. Although the original (which released in 2011) was developed by Deep Silver Volition, this version is being handled by Sperasoft. Saints Row: The Third Remastered has a number of improvements such as retextured assets, upgraded visual effects, lighting and graphics tweaks, and a slew of DLC. But, how well does it look, and how well does it run? Let’s find out in our technical review.

Saints Row The Third Remastered Technical Review Feat 2

Saints Row: The Third Remastered – System requirements

Minimum system requirements (720p on Low Settings)

  • CPU: AMD / Intel CPU, running at 3.4 GHz or higher: AMD FX 6000 series or Intel Core i5-3000 series or newer is recommended.
  • RAM: 8GB
  • GPU: AMD/NVIDIA dedicated graphic card, with at least 4GB of dedicated VRAM and with at least DirectX 11 and Shader Model 6.0 support: AMD Radeon 500 series or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 or newer.
  • Sound: Integrated or dedicated DirectX 9 compatible soundcard
  • OS: Windows 10
  • Other: Keyboard, mouse, and an internet connection for Epic.

Recommended system requirements (1080p on High Settings)

  • CPU: AMD / Intel processor running at 3.5 GHz (AMD FX 8000 series or Intel Core i5 4000 series or newer is recommended).
  • RAM: 16GB
  • GPU: AMD/NVIDIA dedicated graphic card, with at least 6GB of dedicated VRAM (or more) and with at least DirectX 11 and Shader Model 6.1 support. (AMD Radeon RX 5700 and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1000 series or newer.
  • Sound: Integrated or dedicated DirectX 9 compatible soundcard
  • OS: Windows 10
  • Other: Keyboard, mouse, and an internet connection for Epic.

Author’s

  • OS: Windows 10 (64-bit)
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-7700 4.2 GHz
  • RAM: 16GB RAM
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti (8 GB)
  • DirectX: Version 12
  • Storage: Samsung SSD 860 EVO 500 GB

As you can see, I’m well above the recommended settings for 1080p gaming. However, I am running the game on 4K UHD resolution, so let’s see how impactful that’d be.

Srttr Tech Rev 1 Graphics Options

Graphics settings

You can see the graphics settings above. There are four presets: low, medium, high, and ultra. Many of the individual options though only go up to high settings. I did disable motion blur since that just makes me dizzy while also getting in the way of taking decent screenshots.

In any case, there aren’t a lot of options here for you to change. For now, we should take a look at the differences between these graphics settings, as well as how much the visuals and lighting have improved compared to the original.

Graphics comparisons: Part 1 – Ultra vs. Low

For this section, I’ve included several sets of images to compare the ultra and low presets at 4K UHD resolution. As usual, click on each image for a larger view.

Office shootout

Srttr Tech Rev Comparison 1 Ultra

Ultra preset

Srttr Tech Rev Comparison 1 Low

Low preset

Rooftop battle

Srttr Tech Rev Graphics Comparison 2 Ultra

Ultra preset

Srttr Tech Rev Graphics Comparison 2 Low

Low preset

A rainy day in Steelport (ignore the shark)

Srttr Tech Rev Graphics Comparison 3 Ultra

Ultra preset

Srttr Tech Rev Graphics Comparison 3 Low

Low preset

An encounter with the law

Srttr Tech Rev Graphics Comparison 4 Ultra

Ultra preset

Srttr Tech Rev Graphics Comparison 4 Low

Low preset

The most noticeable change here would be the texture detail. At lower graphics settings, textures just look a bit rough around the edges. You’ll also notice how shadows look frayed as opposed to having a softer feel to them. The ultra preset, meanwhile, makes these features more striking and vivid.

Graphics comparisons: Part 2 – Remastered vs. original

Next up, let’s take a look at the important comparison: Saints Row: The Third Remastered versus the original from 2011 (which I reinstalled just for this technical review). The images from the original will come first followed by those from the remaster. As usual, click on each image for a larger view.

Here comes the plane

Saints Row The Third Remastered Technical Review Graphics Comparison 1 Original

Original (2011).

Saints Row The Third Remastered Technical Review Graphics Comparison 1 New

Remaster (2020).

Compared to the original, the plane in Saints Row: The Third Remastered actually looks like a plane and not a prop from Toy Story.

Punching while parachuting

Saints Row The Third Remastered Technical Review Graphics Comparison 2 Original

Original (2011).

Saints Row The Third Remastered Technical Review Graphics Comparison 2 New

Remaster (2020).

The blood effects are more detailed in the remaster as opposed to the original. You can also spot the difference in the clothing textures of the jacket.

Red light district

Saints Row The Third Remastered Technical Review Graphics Comparison 3 Original

Original (2011).

Saints Row The Third Remastered Technical Review Graphics Comparison 3 New

Remaster (2020).

Take note of the flame effects and lightning. The former, while not perfect, would look a lot like flames as opposed to an evil spirit coming out of the trash bin. The improved lighting also provides a stark contrast when compared to the original — see those shadows?

Wardrobe change

Saints Row the third remastered technical review - costume old

Original (2011).

Saints Row the third remastered technical review - costume new

Remaster (2020).

You’ll even see the metallic gloss when using the Knight Armor as opposed to the tin can version from the original.

Weapon cache icons

Saints Row the third remastered technical review - weapon old

Original (2011).

Saints Row the third remastered technical review - weapon new

The change is also readily seen when you’re looking at weapon icons and textures.

Performance

In terms of performance, I was able to run Saints Row: The Third Remastered at 4K UHD resolution while seeing 45-55 FPS, and this was with the ultra preset. Rarely did I see the game reach 60 FPS, although that can be a limitation based on my setup. At the very least, it’s not a first-person or third-person multiplayer shooter, one where I’d really need to rely on all the frames I could get. Now, if I do switch to lower presets, the most I saw was a slight bump (around 2-3 FPS).

Will this be a major issue if you played the original? Well, I doubt it. While I was playing that version, I did mostly notice around 50-55 FPS as well (also at 4K UHD resolution). That meant the remaster provided a significant graphical upgrade without necessarily impacting performance.

However, it has to be mentioned that cutscenes are still locked at 30 FPS even with all these improvements — but there’s actually a bigger problem with cutscenes that we’ll get to in a while. As for character movement and animations, they remain janky and stiff (same as the original), lacking the fluidity you’d expect from today’s action-adventure games.

Additionally, there’s been an issue when it comes to opening your crib’s inventory. Navigation and item selection was so clunky due to loading these new models and textures, that it’s as though your screen was already flickering.

Control settings

Below, you’ll see the general control settings for Saints Row: The Third Remastered:

Srttr Tech Rev 2 Controls

Here are the keybinds which you can change:

Srttr Tech Rev 3 Keybinds

Here’s the general setup for gamepad users:

Srttr Tech Rev 4 Gamepad

And, lastly, the button layouts/control schemes for the gamepad:

Srttr Tech Rev 5 Gamepad Layout

Although I do tend to play a lot of action games with a mouse and keyboard, the bane of my existence has often been any game that has a driving feature. Whether it’s Grand Theft Auto, Mafia, or Saints Row, it wouldn’t matter. If I’m walking or running, there’s no problem using a mouse and keyboard setup. As soon as I start driving, you can bet I’d rather switch to a controller. Thankfully, gamepads are supported in the remaster and the controls are responsive even when using my old Logitech F310.

Gameplay and audio

Here are the various gameplay settings:

Srttr Tech Rev 6 Gameplay

And these are the ones for audio:

Srttr Tech Rev 7 Audio

Here’s where Saints Row: The Third Remastered falls flat, and why I combined the two into one section. That’s because the game’s cutscenes are completely and woefully in need of a fix.

Although the cinematics would play properly for 10 seconds or so, the audio would suddenly get cut off. Then, the audio would return but it’d be out of sync with the cinematic as a whole, and even the subtitles became problematic. As such, you wouldn’t experience some of these improvements outside of regular gameplay, unless you want to be frustrated.

Saints Row: The Third Remastered – At a technical glance

Saints Row: The Third Remastered has a limited number of options for you to tweak, though they remain functional. Still, it’s improved many facets from the original release, and my framerates weren’t too shabby based on my setup. The lighting, likewise, definitely creates environments that are striking and, at times, stunning. Steelport just looks more alive than ever before. You can experience the same crazy and zany antics for newer and better rigs and have a blast while you’re at it.

However, the main issue you’d likely notice would be the cutscenes themselves. As mentioned, out-of-sync audio and abrupt cut-offs will be detrimental to the player’s experience. Animations are also as stiff and clunky as before.

Lastly, not cited above but worth adding here is that Saints Row: The Third Remastered leads to unbearable slowdown when you’re alt-tabbed while the game is running. Of course, it wouldn’t matter if you’re focused on playing, but it would matter if, say, you’re browsing the net, using social media apps, or, in my case, writing an article. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this much slowdown in any game I’ve covered before.

Saints Row The Third Remastered Technical Review Feat 2


Saints Row: The Third Remastered releases tomorrow, May 22, 2020. You can purchase the game from the Epic Games Store for $39.99.

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