What do you get when you add over the shoulder shooting, superpowers, aliens, platforming, driving, 8-bit text adventures, dubstep and side scrolling beat em ups in a pot and simmer for 20 odd hours?
The answer is simply Saints Row IV.
Do you have a favourite game genre? Because I’m pretty sure Volation cater to it in Saints Row IV, a game so crazy that you just fall in love with it.
After the ending of Saints Row 3 and becoming the kings of Steelport the Saints just float upwards to better things, the beginning of the game shows the Saints on a mission for M-I 5 abroad. The mission is to take down a terrorist and in basic Call of Duty style they do just that with the Boss of the Saints jumping onto the nuclear weapon at the end to destroy it.
This act of pure heroism leads to the boss of the Saints becoming President of the United States with all the crew as various members of the cabinet.
You get to spend very little time as the President before aliens attack earth abducting your crew, friends and the good people of earth. Trapped inside a Matrix style simulation you play as the Saints boss fighting the alien menace from within and eventually out with the simulation itself.
Being a Matrix style simulation lends itself to all sorts of hilarious and ridiculous things including obtaining superpowers. At first it is simply running faster and jumping higher but soon you are able to move things with your mind, glide across the sky, jump over buildings, set people on fire and stomp the ground among other things.
If you have ever wanted a crazy superhero experience then this game has it. Sure when you power up your superpowers they eventually become overpowered and you are able to swat the enemy like flies but the game still holds a few surprises for you.
The story is actually quite good, it’s essentially getting the crew back together with them all being trapped in their own simulations and you have to enter their simulation in order to break them out. This is where the game really pushes itself into overtime presenting you with platform puzzler games, Sonic style racing, 8-bit adventure games, Streets of Rage style beat em ups and my favourite a Metal Gear Solid style stealth game. All of this with tongue firmly placed in cheek, Saints Row IV knows exactly what it is doing and really isn’t afraid of doing it. It points to not only the flaws in other peoples games but the flaws of its own.
Sometimes the problem with this self-parody is that to parody something you have to do it and when gaming it can be like “side missions are arbitrary” but makes you do them anyway to make its point. Saints Row IV stops itself from doing this all but a few times, which makes it the perfect parody game.
The great thing is it isn’t just a parody game, it has its own story that although based on many different pieces from many different stories they make it their own. Yes there is Matrix and Independence Day galore but there are also very subtle movie and game references that you have to be tuned into to hear.
Speaking of being tuned in the radio is different this time around; the budget for this game wasn’t as huge as Saints 3 which doesn’t make much sense considering how that game sold very well.
This time the rock and metal station are turned into one with much less songs, there are only around 6 stations but you still have the power to create your own mix tape of favourite songs from them. The stations themselves or the mix tape can actually play whilst you are walking around, the developers knew that with these new powers you may not be spending much time in cars so this is their workaround and it works very well.
The graphics are nothing to shout about, it looks the same as Saints 3 and considering this game started as DLC for that game it is completely understandable. Saints 3 wasn’t the best looking game and that still stands true. The world is large and open, sometimes there are graphical glitches but I never came across any that were game breaking. The world being based in a simulation has glitches that are meant to be there meaning it can take some time for your eyes to become attuned to this. I felt that maybe the developers could be hiding some bad game code behind simulation glitches but what would it matter it doesn’t break the game or cause anything unsightly just the odd pop in and pop out building, disappearing cars and inability to drive through something.
A lot of people come to a Saints game for the level of customisation there is to many things and you will be happy to hear that level is still here. You can now customise your weapons to make them look different and the obscene amount of customisation to clothes and body are still there.
My first character was male and looked like Frank Castle, then by the power of plastic surgery I turned into a pointy faced woman and then changed to quite an accurate depiction of myself.
It’s great to see the level of ridiculousness one can do with creation but it’s also scary, I can just imagine the insane levels some people will go to.
With clothes it’s just the same, there are regular, hyper and just plain nuts. Saints Row will not go down as the game that doesn’t have something for everyone, in fact quite the opposite, if you don’t find something you like to wear then there really is something wrong with you.
The gunplay is the same with normal weapons and the more out there ones. My personal favourite is the Wub Wub Gun which is also known as the Dubstep gun. It pulsates dubstep at the enemy which if upgraded can be turned into explosive wubs, it is insanely overpowered and blows everything up whilst making everyone around you not in battle dance like high school party goers.
You might find yourself using the superpowers more or just the plain guns. The beauty of a Saints game is it lets you do it your way. Love mowing people down in cars? Go ahead. Love kicking people into outer space via their testicles? It’s all yours. Want to destroy everything and anyone around you? Here is an alien rocket launcher go nuts. It doesn’t cater to one crowd but attempts to cater to them all with great results.
The vast amount of collectables, side missions and tasks will make this a wonderful game for completionists. I found I couldn’t pass any of the clusters that allow you to power up your superpowers. I know some people won’t be able to overlook the store hacks, voice logs and text adventures. I finished the main quest and am now wandering Steelport looking for the things I want to collect. At the end of a good 18-20 hour main mission this adds countless hours to it so well worth the money.
I love this game, during the first few hours I was slightly dubious and wouldn’t allow myself to love it. I felt this was a game that deserved a fine tooth comb and a careful eye but that isn’t what the Saints are about. It’s a game about enjoying yourself, about flying through a town dressed as a giant cat whilst wielding a large tentacle weapon and enjoying the destruction.
I give the game 9/10
It’s a great open world game with a plethora of things to do, if you ever dreamed of being a superhero then this game will allow you to do just that. The story is really fun and the side quests not monotonous. If you enjoyed Saints Row 3 you will love this.
We were provided a copy of the game on PS3 from Koch media who we thank very much.