Game Review: Saints Row IV

Jonathan Szafran delivers his verdict on the brand new installment in the ludicrous open-world action saga, out next week for PC, Xbox360 and PS3 (reviewed).

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The Saints are back – and they’re better than ever. Having saved the United States from near disaster you, the leader of the Saints, have gained the favor of the nation and are elected President. What occurs after that is right up there with what this series is known for: over-the-top action, lewd humor, and just plain fun.

Saints Row IV starts off with a bang. The country is attacked by an alien race, you’re captured and imprisoned inside a virtual simulation of your home city of Steelport, and from there your mission is to take out the aliens from within the program, and in the real world.

Does that sound somewhat familiar? Yep, there are a lot of Matrix references in Saints Row IV. Within moments of waking in the digitized Steelport, superpowers are bestowed upon you and from there things simply get insane. Leaping over buildings and running at super speed through the city streets is a wonderful feeling.

These, and subsequent powers, make combat easier. But unlike the regenerative health of Saints Row the Third, enemies will drop health pickups here – bringing that god-like feeling down just a notch.

To escape the simulation entirely you must rescue your fellow Saints and take on Zinyak, the alien leader. Rescuing your crew will unlock different side quests that have fantastic rewards, such as upgrading your powers and unlocking cool weapons.

These missions are terrific fun and I highly recommend taking them on. There are also shades of Mass Effect in Saints Row IV: in the real world you and your crew are on a space ship due to an unfortunate circumstance that occurs a couple of hours into the game.

On this ship you can interact with the Saints you rescue, take on their side quests and have some intriguing yet sometimes creepy conversations with them. Lets just say the Saints crew are more loose than that of the Normandy.

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This is really a trip down memory lane for the Saints, and for longtime fans as well. You will visit familiar places and interact with old enemies and friends alike during the course of the campaign.

That’s not to say everything is all rosy, however, as there are definite signs of ageing in this series. The graphics are now dated when you look at how well a certain upcoming open-world game looks in comparison; the environments in Saints Row IV are reused from the previous game, and the lighting is too dark in some areas. Overall not much has changed graphically since the previous installment, though it doesn’t take away much of the excitement that this game delivers.

Powers are fun and you will use them more often than the weapons you collect. That’s not to say that the weapons aren’t fun: there are some standouts like the Disintegrator, the Abductor (very fun) and the Bounce Rifle.

The one disappointment is the over-hyped Dubstep gun, which takes too long to charge and is very under-powered. Some of the conventional weapons have been redesigned to look like those of some beloved sci-fi franchises. There is one gun that is hidden very well. It may look small but it sure packs a big punch, and is well worth the effort to find it.

Purists may scoff at the idea of having superpowers in a Saints Row game, and at first I was in the same boat. Once you have super speed it makes driving a car feel too slow.

Sure, you could forgo using your powers and drive around – but that’s not what this game is trying to make you do. This is essentially an overpowered superhero game, and fans of Saints Row 1 and 2 may find this departure cringe-worthy.

Overall however, it’s great entertainment and you’re unlikely to miss the previous games’ structures. A saga full of super powers, donkey beer, cool weapons and collectibles, mixed with a hilarious story full of twists and turns, make this worth every penny.

It’s hard to see where Deep Silver will take this series in the future, but it will be a hell of a ride up Satan’s ladder.

FMV Rating: ***1/2

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  1. Game Review: Saints Row IV : FMV Magazine…

    A saga full of super powers, donkey beer, cool weapons and collectibles – mixed with a hilarious story full of twists and turns – there may be definite signs of ageing in the Saints Row series, but this is full over-the-top action, lewd humor, and just…

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