Saints Row IV Review – In The Saints We Trust
Release Date: August 20th, 2013
Publisher: Deep Silver
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox 360], PlayStation 3, PC
Rated: M for Mature
What started off as “the other Grand Theft Auto”, Saints Row was able to break that label long ago and has made a name for its self as an over-the-top open-world game that drives players into a hilarious joyride into insanity. Mix the crazy antics of Saints Row the Third, mixed with a dash of superhuman abilities and a sprinkle of global alien domination and you get a game that pulls no punches.
Several years after the events of Saints Row the Third, the 3rd Row Saints have risen above their former rivals and after thwarting a terrorist plot, your heroic deeds lands you in the Oval Office as the President of the United States. After solving a world crisis and punching a politician in the nads, something seems to be amiss and your crew seems to agree. Then wouldn’t you know it, a hostile alien race called the Zin and their leader Zinyak has abducted nearly everyone, including you!
You awaken inside a Matrix-like program created by the dastardly Zinyak and once you realize how messed things are, you take it upon yourself as the President to break the Zin’s grasp on the human race. You may be only one man, but inside the virtual Steelport and with the help of tech expert Kinzie Kensington, you gain powers to work things in your favor.
This may be a Saints game, but inside the digitally constructed Steelport, all the rules have changed. To fight an entire invading conquest against our planet Earth players are granted superpowers ranging from super speed to telekinesis to jumping straight over buildings. Almost everything you do will go to leveling up your character and the higher your level the more powers and abilities you can unlock. Loose bits of Data Clusters can be collected to further enhance and upgrade your powers and Caches are the in-game currency in which you can buy clothing, tattoos, upgrades for weapons, and non-superpower traits like upgrades to health.
Among other similar open-world games, Saints Row IV stands out. Think of it as the humor and absurdity of the Saints and combine it with the virtual, “alter the world to your advantage and if all else fails, cause unforgiving mayhem” of The Matrix and Crackdown. Even with a whole virtual town to explore, there is not a single dull moment as there is a ton of side missions and challenges to complete to earn more Cache and experience. In the first half of the game you will already be outrunning cars and launching fire balls at your oppressors, but by the end you will be like an unstoppable tornado, in fact, you can unlock an ability to cause a tornado whenever you run!
I’m surprised how smoothly the superpowers were integrated into the game. With so many powers I would’ve figured that it would’ve been a hassle to switch between one another, but it’s much more instant than I anticipated. A great example of how well the game controls is whenever I’m going full speed while running; you can virtually make 90 degree angles. Avoiding oncoming cars and going in and out of alleyways between buildings couldn’t be easier.
The world of the Steelportrix (as I will now refer to it as) is a world of perpetual night. It sets the mood of a looming darkness that has befallen upon your citizens and yourself, but with everything shrouded in shadows all the time you will miss the virtual sunlight. Steelportrix, being a simulation, will pixilate and contort as a “glitch” in the worlds system as you can witness moving textures and bloated NPC that get near rifts.
The Saints are given the voices of such talents as Troy Baker who previously worked on The Last of Us and Keith David who has voiced Captain Anderson in the Mass Effect trilogy. A lot of the humor in the game is full of references and spoofs of other franchises that get a good laugh. The only thing I have noticed that bothered me audio wise is when you are running. Going at top speeds should sound like a stampede, as the very force knocks cars out of the way, but it sounds like you’re taking a light stroll through a park or something while the cars that go flying sounds like someone just made a dent in one.
The fourth chapter in the Saints adventures is definitely a fun one. There are tons of things to do: plenty of powers to wreak havoc with, numerous customization options, and you can double the fun in co-op. There were a couple of design choices that did irk me a bit while playing; cars are useless when you develop powers, it may seem at times that you are too powerful, and the dark color pallet made me wish for an actually day and night cycle instead of a post-game unlock. But looking past that, Saints Row IV offers hours of entertainment and laughs as it stands tall amongst titles like Infamous and Crackdown. And I’ll have to admit, never before did being a super powered president have so much style.
Replayability: 4.5 /5
Overall Rating: 4.25/5