Saint’s Row IV Review: Hail to the Chief
It has been a long time coming for the Saint’s Row name. And despite all the big changes around, Saints Row IV is a fantastically thrilling game! You ready for this playa?
It’s been quite a way for the Saint’s Row name. When it all started in 2006, it was a high-quality, stylish crime/gang driven open world game with an emphasis on turf combat and deep customization. Its sequel in 2008 brought that back and refined what was gained the first time around. Its uniqueness proved to hold its own that year as Grand Theft Auto IV was released worldwide. But in 2011, a new formula emerged for Saint’s Row. The team at Volition changed up the atmosphere and threw in the forgotten elements of video games: Fun! The fun to use zany weapons on rival gangs in over-the-top action sequences proved to be a smash hit. In the sea of games focusing on the post-apocalypse, ultra-violence, terrorists, nuclear weapons, WWIII, and shooting, 2011’s Saint’s Row The Third was a different game that had its roots rerouted in an incredibly entertaining way as the characters found themselves to be celebrities along with all the craziness one could imagine.
But, there would be troubling times for the last two years. Despite every single best effort, THQ was permanently dissolved. Saints Row, Volition and dozens of other properties and titles were dispersed to new homes. However, like the Saints portrayed in the game, Volition rose up from it all to their newest game, Saint’s Row the IV. At the end of the day, through all of this, despite the hardships and struggles, this game is still very much saints row and to sum it it up, it is still f@#$%*- awesome!
SR IV originally started off as a massive DLC pack known as “Enter the Dominatrix ” Due to a various factors the DLC was folded into this game. But make no mistake, this isn’t DLC on a shelf. This is a full fledged game, with all the bells and whistles one will expect.
From the very start, the game throws you into the action. Following a special, and epic, mission to save the country, you are elected president. After customizing your very own president, you step in as the saint-in-chief himself. Things are chill at the White House until a massive alien invasion occurs! You fight your way through the halls and defeat alien warships “space invaders” style. Suddenly, you are captured and realize you are in a digital simulation, an imprisonment created by the aliens. Despite this, it grants you special super powers. It is your mission to kick extraterrestrial ass, escape the simulation, save the USA and subsequently, the world.
The story is highly entertaining. Memorable faces and voices return here, including Keith David as himself. There are plenty of nods to pop culture and movies, from the visual Tron and Matrix-like visual design to hearing “I don’t want to miss a Thing” by Aerosmith. The dialogue, sequences, and characters make this a memorable, action packed open world adventure. Where satirical games, like Duke Nukem, beg us to laugh, Saint Row IV ties it all together well. Perhaps more so by its incredibly addicting, rewarding gameplay.
Almost everything you do in SRIV earns you XP. That XP can lean towards unlocking more abilities for a large variety of categories. Defeating enemies, driving recklessly, and completing the dozens upon dozens of side quests nets cash for weapon upgrades, clothes, and vehicle upgrades. Coupled with the incredibly satisfying super powered action and gunplay, there is an addicting level of fun here. One activity will quickly lead to another. I found myself often saying “just one more mission.”
The weapons selection is simply unbelievable and any developers out there should take note. Black hole guns, melee tentacles, an all in one rocket launcher/machinegun/flamethrower, and abduction cannon, and dozens of others round up the kind of gunplay that is expected in SR IV. My personal favorite is the Dubstep gun. As player hold down the weapon, pulsing rays annihilate your foes in a flurry of pixilation and slow motion. And, of course, some potent dubstep plays as you use the weapon. In addition to these creations, the typical lot of weapons are available as well from handgun to alien rifles. Your weapons can be upgraded.
The use of superpowers and fighting aliens was a controversial addition initially . Some players disliked it as it seemed to be to far of a stretch from the games original roots. But this addition elevates the gameplay from Saint Row the Third. Shortly after your immersion into the simulation, you’ll begin to develop powers. Flight, super jump, blast, and others eventually get added as you complete quests and side missions. The powers are fun to use and are required for navigation. The only drawback is at time, the powers make certain things rather useless. For example, if you have super speed, and gliding, then what is the point of driving a vehicle? Sure, cars have their unique usefulness but you’ll find yourself using your powers more. As for challenge and enemy variety, your foes will put up a solid fight. I played on normal and saw that the enemies do put up a stiff resistance if you are not careful . For the most par though, it is engaging. You can heal yourself overtime but to survive, you need to collect the blue cross that pours from enemies.
The visual presentation and music selection is very solid. There are plenty of nods from the world of The Matrix and Tron. With the plethora of activities, there is a lot of exciting things to do. The music playlist also veers into tracks that hit the incredible, feverish pitch of the game From “What is love” by Haddaway to Paula Abdul ‘s “Opposites attract.” It may seems strange to describe but there’s something euphoric when UMF’s “ Unbelievable” is playing while your taking out bad guys. There are several radio stations, each with their own distinct sounds, including techno/dance, dubstep, rock and roll, and even orchestra. Like the last game, you can create your own mixtape. As of right now, the game runs well but can be sporadic. I encountered several game crashes during missions that forced me to restart the PS3. Surely, these issues will be ironed out as the game rolls forward.
Some may dismay the game for being to over-the-top, to silly, and therefore, unsatisfying. But Volition and Deep Silver have a new profound respect from me. In this generation, what made these games distinguish themselves was their primary focus in one statement: Giving the gamers their fun and place those tools to give them that fun. Saint’s Row IV is built for fun. From its incredible power ups to insane amount of quests to the entertaining story, it’s an absolute blast and, quite possibly, the most fun you’ll have this year. It is fitting as the generation closes out as I would like to see more of this. Get ready playa.