Japanese gaming legend Tomonobu Itagaki will feature as a playable character in THQ's upcoming open-world adventure.
Those lucky enough to be present during THQ's Tokyo Game Show showcase today were given quite the treat when the publisher announced celebrated Japanese game designer Tomonobu Itagaki (Dear or Alive, Ninja Gaiden, Devil's Third) would be making an appearance in the upcoming Saints Row: The Third. Not just any old appearance, mind you: Itagaki will feature as a playable character, giving gamers the chance to don the signature leather jacket and sunglasses and run amok on the streets of Steelport when the game ships later this year.
The announcement came during THQ's presentation of Saints Row: The Third during this year's TGS, which consisted of a demo showing off one of the signature missions in the game, followed by a brief hands-on session with the game.
As we already know, the point of Saints Row: The Third is to get as crazy, wacky, over-the-top as you can get away with in a game, complete with dildo bats, rockets launchers, and a bazillion and one different ways of kicking someone in the nuts. The gameplay demo focused on one of the main missions which sees the Saints trying to infiltrate the cyber-hangout of the Deckers, Steelport's elite cyber criminals. In order to do this, the Saints have to enter a virtual reality portal and navigate their way to the Deckers' hideout; in the demo, Kinzie Kensington (voiced by Hollywood's resident rehab girl Lindsay Lohan) sends one of the Saints into the portal but accidentally has his avatar show up as a toilet. Desperately trying to fix her mistake (or just having a laugh?) she changes him into a blow-up sex doll, and finally, into himself.
The next part of the demo focused on the customization options in Saints Row: The Third, which have been significantly beefed up since the last game. Walking into a shop called Image As Designed, you can pretty much make your character look exactly how you want, with customization options for race, body, face, hair, make-up, and personality. Of course, if you're too lazy to bother with any of this, you can just play as Itagaki.
Itagaki himself actually introduced his own character during the THQ presentation, and took control of him for a while. Naturally, the first thing he did was punch some innocent bystander in the stomach. He then proceeded to ride a flying jet ski down the busy Steelport streets and mow down people before parachuting off and launching a missile attack on a nearby Luchadores hangout. You have to admit, the man has style. (According to his own story, Itagaki was really impressed with the game after seeing it at E3 this year and told THQ as much. Impressed by his honesty, they decided to make a character after him.)
After the presentation it was time to get some hands-on with the game. This demo didn't focus on a particular mission but rather just let players loose on the streets, so we took the opportunity to try out one of the new side activity missions which we've been hearing a lot about. While Professor Genki has become something of an unofficial mascot for Saints Row: The Third, we really haven't seen much of his Professor Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax, an ironic take on the Japanese game show concept. The idea here is that Professor Genki hosts a Running Man-style reality TV show in which contestants must enter an enclosed maze-like warehouse with one objective: kill all the other contestants while dodging deadly contraptions and dudes dressed up as mascots. The whole thing has an air of crazy about it, but can be a very good distraction for when you tire of hitting people in the balls with the underside of your weapon.
Speaking of weapons, our hands-on demo also allowed us to try the very cool, very creative octopus gun--a gun that shoots slimy cephalopod molluscs at your enemies, rendering them temporarily friendly and allowing you to dispose of them as you will (shooting them in the face with a rocket launcher always works well).
Finally, we learned that the Saints Row team have re-named the left trigger the "Awesome Button", because pressing it at opportune moments throughout the game allows your character to perform a variety of complicated wrestling melee attacks that often end in hilarious finishing moves.
We can definitely say that we're eagerly looking forward to our next encounter with the madness that is Saints Row: The Third. The game ships November 18, 2011 on the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.