Published on August 14th, 2013 | by Cory Wells, Contributor
Saints Row IV Review
Reviewer’s Note: A copy of the game was received for review purposes.
The Saints Row franchise has established itself as an over-the-top, open-world series since its inception five years ago with Saints Row, which saw some success. Originally taking a page straight out of the Grand Theft Auto playbook, the franchise has continued to one-up itself with each additional installment. This has helped isolate it from the godfather of open-world violent games.
At its core, the series has provided more depth in customization options, and over time has managed to establish a solid overarching storyline. Now, with Saints Row IV, developers Volition, Inc. and High Voltage Software have pulled out all the stops when it comes to concluding the saga of the Third Street Saints.
Publisher: Deep Silver
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 [reviewed], PC
Release Date: Aug. 20, 2013
Genre: Action/Adventure, Open World
The Saints find themselves in the White House as the Player is now the leader of the Free World. Pending threats of an alien invasion come to life as the world gets taken over by extraterrestrial overlord Zinyak. The Saints soon find themselves transported to a bizzaro-Steelport simulation that takes many cues from The Matrix.
As the president, your job is to re-takeover Steelport by hacking stores, taking down Flashpoints (command points that determine map area control) and completing many different kinds of mini-game challenges.
As in prior ‘Rows, spreading the influence of the Saints grants you Homies to assist you on missions. The story revolves around getting the Saints back together one-by-one in order to return Earth back to normal. There are a ton of hilarious video game references as you progress through the missions. There is even a ridiculous movie reference right off the bet during the introduction (we wish we could reveal more in detail, but we’ve been asked not to spoil the party).
Players can still customize their personal characters and upload them to the Saints Row website. Other players can then download them via the site and into the game.
Completing the story is where players will experience most of the humor, and the humor that fans have come to know with the series is on its “A” game in SRIV.
There is a tremendous amount of depth to what players can do around Steelport. There are tons of mini-games that vary so much in style that there is always something entertaining to do. Some of the modes include Fraud (which is like a Crash Mode on Burnout, but instead you use your body), UFO battles, fight clubs, tank battles and a lot of much cooler stuff that needs to be experienced first-hand. Hacking the stores is a mini-game in itself, as well. The hacking mini-game consists of increasingly difficult grids that are given a set amount of puzzle pieces to complete the circuit. If the hack fails, then the enemy will come to your location.
Beyond the mini-games, the gameplay begins to stray off the beaten path of what we expect from a game in the series. Taking cues from titles such as Infamous, players are given powers that they can use to sprint extremely fast, leap high into the air or even fly. Special abilities such as telekinesis and mind-control are available and upgradeable. This definitely is adding an entirely new element to the series, however the powers are a double-edged sword, in that they begin to render the old ways of doing things useless. This is where an identity crisis begins to rear its ugly head.
The game wants to still allow players to experience the classic Saints Row action, but the wildly eccentric abilities make it feel a little too different. Not to mention, most of the missions can be completed with no help from the Homies due to the super powers making them obsolete.
Very quickly, it will become more of a task to steal a car and go from spot to spot. A lot of missions will have players going from one end of the city to the complete opposite end, but it’s much quicker just to sprint and glide.
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As for more customization, cars can still be personalized, and players can go around and do drive-bys with their Homies. The guns in the game are awesome. All guns can be upgraded and redecorated, which also results in a different sound effect. The Alien guns are fun, especially the Dub Step gun, which fires musical notes that play a dub step beat. The beat can also change depending on the skin and upgrades. When choosing guns though, there’s no scale to see which guns is more powerful than the other, or which might be more accurate.
Some of the presentation in the title is lacking, which includes the lack of knowing which guns are more superior than the others in a group. The same can be said about having a vehicle dropped off. There is a list of vehicles and unless the player is accustomed to the name of the car, there is picture to correspond what is being chosen, so it can become a guessing game.
The controls in Saints Row IV are fairly responsive. Jumping and gliding are easy to do and there won’t be that much frustration with the controls or the camera angles. Car controls are also responsive as you drift around corners. Melee attacks are in the game, but even more important are the wrestling moves. Tons of wrestling moves can be pulled off and the game even includes a cameo of a famous wrestler.
While not hideous, Saints Row IV can be a bit sore on the eyes — it basically rehashes the graphics engine from Saints Row: The Third. While the game is colorful, the graphics can get blurry at a distance. Steelport remains dark the entire time, and meshing with certain colors can make enemies and the road hard to see.
There are some missions that take place during daylight, and the game looks much better with the lighting. The draw distance is lacking in the game on consoles, as sprinting can cause the game frame rate to become sluggish. Lastly, the game locked up my PlayStation 3 a few times later in the campaigns. This is most likely due to the amount of enemies existing at one time, and believe me, there are a lot.
The soundtrack features a solid variety of music which includes a selection of dub step and hip-hop to metal and indie music. It even features the Aerosmith song from Armageddon movie for those really dramatic moments. The dialogue is excellent to go along with the voice acting of each character. The gun sound effects from the Alien weapons are also high quality.
There are hours and hours worth of gameplay available in Saints Row IV. There is a lot to complete including challenges, the main story and hacking stores. The co-op campaign makes its return to the game, and it includes specific missions that can only be done with two people. Steelport is also a fairly large city to investigate and cause trouble.
Saints Row IV, simply put, is extremely fun and entertaining. The series does not intend to be a masterpiece as it simply offers hours of outlandish humor and stupid-fun gameplay. There are a ton of spoilers within the story including cameos and references that need to be experienced first-hand.
Tight controls help make this experience more enjoyable, as well. Fans of the series might not appreciate the inclusion of these super powers, but the adjustment is appreciated in the end.
Saints Row IV Review
Summary: Saints Row IV, simply put, is extremely fun and entertaining. The game does not intend to be a masterpiece, it just simply offers hours of outlandish humor and "stupid-fun" gameplay. There are a ton of cameos and references that need to be experienced first-hand. Tight controls help make this experience more enjoyable, as well. Fans of the series might not appreciate the inclusion of super powers, but the adjustment is appreciated in the end.