There are two different ways to look at the Switch port of Saints Row: The Third’. From a glass half full perspective, what you’re getting an exceptionally close conversion of the PS3 original, closer still if you play in handheld mode. But viewed in a glass half empty way, all of the failings of the last-gen console versions remain in full effect on this new release: let’s make no bones about it, performance is poor and the controls have severe input lag issues.
Let’s focus initially on the positives. Playing Saints Row: The Third in Switch’s handheld mode is definitely the best way to experience the game. It renders at a full 720p – making it a pin-sharp native experience on Switch’s six-inch screen, while performance seems to be more consistent than the docked mode. As usual, the smaller screen does a good job of hiding some of the cut-backs and compromises and to all intents and purposes, it is indeed the PS3 version in the palm of your hand. And to be clear, this game has always been hilarious fun – and this was the main reason why we were so looking forward to the Switch port, and most likely why we’ve had so many requests to look at it.
Much of the charm wears off when playing docked, as despite migrating Saints Row: The Third to full 1080p resolution, it feels like a step too far for the Switch’s mobile hardware. Blown up on a big living room display, the extra resolution is welcome, but just about any major use of alpha transparency effects clearly reveals ugly sawtooth edges – a sign of lower resolution buffers in play. These were already cut back on the last-gen consoles versions, but the compromise is even more pronounced on Switch with even lower resolution artefacts. There’s also an impact to performance: the frame-rate lows feel worse than they do in handheld mode – making the experience feel even more uneven.