Saints Row IV
Story - 7
Presentation - 5
Gameplay - 8
Lifespan - 8
Stupid and juvenile, but fun! Where else can you run at supersonic speeds fighting aliens with a black hole gun as the President of the United States? In the end all the side details matter little in comparison to the laughs and 80's music, as long as you can laugh at beating civilians with a giant purple unmentionable this game will appeal to you!
Saints Row IV, The Highly Anticipated Sequel To Saints Row The Third, Is (Somehow) Even Crazier Than It’s Predecessor!! After the expansion to Saints Row the Third “Enter the Dominatrix” was cancelled, Volition decided it was too good to scrap and so incorporated it into Saints Row IV and that “it’s going to be even crazier”. Whether you were exited or horrified that the next Saints Row was planned to be even madder than the Third and was going to be based on an unreleased Matrix parody Saints Row IV is finally here………and boy did they keep their promise!!
The story of the Saints Row games has been degrading of late. After the very well written Saints Row 1 and 2, Witty writing was pushed aside to make way for more extravagant car chases and more phallic weaponry so Saints Row IV following convention should be yet another step down on the staircase of fart jokes and the colour purple… right? Well, yes and no. Yes, the witty writing makes a welcome return which fans of the originals will certainly enjoy, however the actual plot of the game decided to drive completely off the logical highway and straight into the canyon of “What the hell did I just play!”. With previous installments you again follow “The Boss” leading his gang that is trying to rise to the top. In Saints Row IV, you start by disarming a ICBM in mid flight while singing along to Aerosmith’s “I don’t want to miss a thing”. You gain the adoration of the US public and become the President. However, after a while of ruling the country Aliens invade earth, you are captured and put in a Matrix style simulation prison in the style of Steelport and you are forced to fight to tear down the system and save Humanity. Oh and you have Superpowers, did I mention you have Superpowers? This is not a Saints Row plot. This is a story that a 6 year old would scribble on the back of his schoolbooks to pass the time. Anyway, said Aliens are lead by the evil overlord Zinyak, who for some reason speaks in a British accent when they come from space and there’s no Britain, who kidnaps not only you but several members of your old gang and you are forced to save them from their own personal simulations that he has trapped them in. It’s crazy beyond any levels that the series has gone to before but if you are a veteran of Saints Row then you should be more than accustomed to crazy.
Presentation is sadly where the game loses some points. The main sandbox area in the game is literally a recycled version of Steelport from the last game and when I say recycled, I literally mean it has been copy/pasted almost polygon for polygon. The graphical quality is ever so slightly better than Saints Row the Third but the problem is that you won’t see much of it because, for some reason, the city is constantly set to a night setting. The best bit of presentation in the game is the vehicle and weapon customisation. You can customise every part of almost every vehicle, improving its stats while making it look badass simultaneously. Weapon customisation is almost identical except that instead of being able to customise your weapons appearance, you have to choose from some pre-made designs. The plus side of this is that some of the weapon designs are references to other media. For example, you can use Han Solo’s (Star Wars) pistol, The Sniper’s (TF2) sniper rifle or The Noisy Cricket from Men in Black.
The Gameplay remains mostly unchanged from Saints Row the Third except for a big one which I’ll get to later. Upgrading your character through RPG elements makes a return which allows you to buy perks for your character with money however to be able to get those perks, you must first get XP which can be earned by completing side missions, wiping out alien patrols or even for doing illegal acts like driving on the wrong side of the road or streaking in front of old ladies. The big difference that I mentioned earlier is the addition that I have the most mixed feelings about, the aforementioned superpowers. On the one hand, the powers are criminally fun to use and can be upgraded to insane levels. Super Speed Sprinting can be upgraded to cost no stamina and can create the whirlwind effect behind you Neo style, you can use your telekinetic throw power to turn vehicles into strategic missiles and by slamming yourself into the floor you can create a shockwave to rival a thermonuclear detonation but the game’s best new feature is also its biggest disconnect. When you can run faster than a car indefinitely, why use and upgrade the vehicles? When you can kill almost any enemy by running up to them and hitting attack, why bother using and upgrading the guns?
And when you pack more indestructabilility than Chuck Norris and Superman combined, why would you ever need to call in your Homies? The cold hard truth is that, as fun as the superpowers are, they make roughly 50%-75% of the content in the game completely useless. Another new feature is the side missions which I have a rather polarising opinion about. On the one hand, the “Loyalty” missions for each of your homies are some of the most fun and unique missions in the game (3 words, QTE Strip Dancing), on the other the standard side missions are some of the most monotonous, boring and uninspired that I’ve seen for a long time. Heres how most side missions go, you talk to someone in the real world who asks you to do something in the simulation. You go and do that thing and they say something funny over the radio while giving you something else to do. Repeat that last step 5 or 6 times until they tell you to come back to the ship and give you an upgrade. The only plus to these side missions is that you have to perform them to get the most fun out of the game, such as the Dubstep gun and the Inflato-Ray (Use your imaginations).
A standard playthrough of Saints Row IV’s story while doing most of the side missions will take roughly 16-18 hours. A full completionist playthrough however will take at least 20-25 hours for the average gamer.
All in all, Saint’s Row IV is the next step in a series that has perhaps overstretched it’s boundaries a bit, Some of the new features completely overshadowed the respectable old ways. But in spite of all that I still enjoyed playing it, the truth of the matter is despite all it’s flaws Saint’s Row IV is fun!