This level of player choice extends into many facets beyond these few story sequences. As well as being able to customize and upgrade your character, you can also customize your vehicles, your weapons, and your gang, in addition to buying property to expand your criminal empire. In a way it really pulls you into the setting as you throw down your stacks of cash to live the high life with the latest and greatest toys.
There is also so much to see and do in Saints Row: The Third. You can follow the story missions, participate in repeatable activity missions, accomplish specific goals for your gang or just roll around and find trouble for yourself. Shaking off that trouble was one issue I did have with the game; I found it a little too hard to lower my ratings with rival gangs in particular as they continually set road blocks and kept appearing to hunt me down. Ducking into a property you own will instantly reduce all built up attention from the police or gangs, so there is some more incentive to buy shops beyond just the discounts and the hourly income. The repeatable missions are also great if you're simply looking to dive into some instant structured fun or trying to grind some extra respect and cash for a new upgrade. They vary from tasking you to deal X number of dollars of property damage with a tank to racing and fighting other gangs to retrieve hookers. And then there's Professor Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax which is akin to a Japanese game show's take on Running Man.
If that wasn't enough, you can also double your fun by taking someone else along with you. At the event there was a heavy emphasis on trying out the game's co-op modes. Players can drop into each others games, reaping the benefits of completing missions and activities together. Though you can only join someone's game if they are not currently participating in a mission, which can make it just slightly annoying to meet up as one person either has to restart their mission or the other needs to wait. There is also a cooperative wave-based mode that's befittingly titled "Whorde Mode." The individual waves did feel a bit short before you'd hit the loading screen and be sent to the next one, but fighting off a wave a miniaturized Saints Row energy drink mascots helps keep it fairly interesting and entertaining.
If you were always the kind of player who liked to find their own fun in open world games and you hadn't already checked out the first two or if you're simply down with the idea of embracing fun again in a videogame, then Saints Row The Third should definitely be on your watch-list.
Saints Row: The Third will be out for PC, 360, PS3 and Onlive on November 15.