Saints Row IV review

Last time you (as the Saints leader) got Mayor of Steelport, and now you’re President – this don’t last for long though, and you’ll now have to take up the fight against the intruders. And why was it again that this alien species is interested in the Earth?

See all the games that went straight to my heart, right here!

See all the games that went straight to my heart, right here!

Volition has survived a couple of bankruptcies – the latest being THQ, a quite big publisher. Koch Media bought the company and the rights to the Saints Row series – but has since then announced that there will be no more Saints after the release of the fourth installment which we cover in this review. We can only hope they’ll let Volition make more sandbox games in the same manner, but in a different universe.

This is the essence of the ‘MURICA tendency. You’re newly elected President of the United States (man or woman) and your first challenge is to get rid of the aliens that during your election speak invaded earth, starting with Steelport. And now you ask yourself: why on earth is the presidential headquarters in freaking STEELPORT? Shouldn’t it be in Washington or something? Well, the answer to that is that Saints Row doesn’t have to make sense – they never have and they never will, get used to it. #Dealwithit

The Intrusion

Running the hallways of the residence, dodging alien laser beams and people screaming all around you is surreal and numbing – until you hear your friends screaming, in particularly Shaundi. You take up the fight, jump into the big gun and start shooting down alien ships. Unfortunately, it’s not enough, and Zinyak, the alien leader, get his grabby hands around your neck. Next thing you know, you’re back in Steelport, with no aliens, but there’s something wrong…

It doesn’t take long before you find out that you’re held hostage, and that you’re held inside a computer simulation (think along the lines of Matrix!) and you now have to fight for your freedom, and it has to be done digitally. Of course you’ll need help from your friends – but you need to free them first! Kinzie and Matt is a given, as they are the most tech savvy people you know, and almost surely the ONLY ones to figure out the Zin technology.

When you push the select button, you open up your ingame hub, which contains your phone (which only has the ability to call for cars or allies), map, management of powers and abilities and don’t forget to cash in your cache here too. Cache is the currency here, which makes sense since you are inside a computer simulation the most of the time – and a lot of sidequests are making you quite aware of this – using the words hack, virus and not to mention that Steelport looks a little different from what we know – statues around the city has been replaced with statues of Zinyak, the Zin leader, there’s a big alien ship hovering over the city and there’s a couple alien towers scattered around the city.

Side Dish is served!

Sidequests is a big part of the game, and while it’s not a bad thing, it gets a little – maybe a lot at times – repetitive, as you have to do the same thing with small changes again and again. Hacking is getting tiresome, but I reckon I don’t need that many stores by now – though these are luckily easy to do. What is different this time, is that in your hub in the quests section, your quests are split into three different lists – primary (which is the story), sidequests, and extras which contains challenges and completed quests – when starting a sidequest, you get a little dialogue, and are sent off to do missions, that don’t really add to the story – but it DOES add to your ingame collection of available things to buy, or directly gives you certain outfits, but more importantly, they add to your cache, and cache you need to upgrade your abilities – powers are upgraded with clusters. You’ll find clusters everywhere on the map, mostly on rooftops.

Saints Row IV is essentially just more Saints Row The Third. The game reeks of it, since they are reusing basically everything with a new story and a layer of small, but fun and noticeable details that reminds you that you’re actually are inside a computer simulation. Fun details such as glitched out pedestrians and enemies is jumping out of the ordinary, thus making them honourable mentions. The aliens are not unique or special in any way – they look quite ordinary – for aliens that is. The game also follows the Saints Row protocol: swearing, violence and over the top weapons which often causes the fights to be hectic and chaotic – and just like in The Third you are taking over parts of the city one at a time by wiping out aliens, hacking stores or something else.

Sure, new kinds of challenges and activities are available due to the addition of superpowers, and they are more fun than in the previous instalment. The game has a lot of different content when compared to The Third, but it’s just not enough to justify a new installment. Volition could.. no… should have made this as a stand alone expansion pack and sold it for a bit less than a full game (the game has lots of content, but a lot of it is repetitive) and made a super hero game based on their ideas with super powers in a sandbox game, because it is actually a great idea – it just doesn’t have a suitable home in the Saints series. Smells a little like cash cow.

Super Powered Ex-Gangster for President!

Super Powers can be earned through different quests – both story and side – and it makes it easier and faster to get around town as you can jump over buildings and water, run through the streets and just push the cars and trucks aside, and enjoying the view when gliding through the sky is remarkable and not something you shouldn’t miss out on. Telekinesis and shooting fireballs or icicles and a super stomp is also part of the superhero equation.

Don’t play this around your kids if you don’t want them to learn curse words or screw up their views over sexuality and weapons. Though, on the serious side, if the player can differ this from being a game and not something you should do out in the real world, this is pure fun, no joke. I am still a little dissatisfied that Volition has jumped the fence where it’s lowest (if not just walking through the open door!) and just put an overlay on what they already had with The Third.

Hit; More Saints in full-on blow up can’t really get wrong, the series is as fun as ever.

Miss; Calling it a full fledged game when it’s basically not knowing the development phase.

Need; A better and more viable story than a simple “Aliens invades the earth, get rid of them” premise. On the other hand, the Saints games are known for either a shallow or simply nonsensical story.

Written by

Getting sucked into games by Super Mario as a kid, gaming got on hold during her teens. Lured into gaming with the 7th generation by GTA IV, and a few years later intrigued by reviewing games, and now she's running gamingirl since 2009.
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