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Saints Row IV Review

joshuaboyjoshuaboy Members Posts: 10,858 ✭✭✭✭✭


Nerf the Saints.


→ August 14, 2013 Saints Row IV has the same problem as Superman. All things considered that's a fairly good problem to have, because it stems from awesome powers like being faster than a speeding bullet and able to leap over tall buildings in a single bound. But the thing many comic book fans find a little boring about the Man of Steel is that if you’re basically a 🤬 , nothing can challenge you – and what’s a hero without a challenge to overcome? That same boredom eventually proves to be Saints Row IV’s kryptonite. Developer Volition has made us living gods in an open-world city, and it's great for a while, but it renders much of what makes Saints Row The Third so much fun feel pointless.

In the beginning SR4 is very much the same parody-packed third-person action game. In the first hour our hilariously customizable Saints boss character pushes the increasingly over-the-top premise of an idolized street gang well past its limits in a quick series of linear levels: you single-handedly bring down a nuclear missile, become President of the United States, and battle an alien invasion led by a British-for-no-reason warlord. It’s so absurd and liberally peppered with well-executed gags and references that it works.

After that you’re trapped in a Matrix-like recreation of the open-world city of Steelport, and Saints Row IV effectively becomes an entirely different game through the introduction of those genuinely cool superpowers. Super-leaping and gliding over the city (an alien-renovated version of the one used in SR3) is hugely liberating – there’s nowhere you can’t go on a whim, and dashing through the streets at amazing speeds feels like a glimpse of the Flash game I’ve always wanted. And those are just the first couple of powers you get.

That’s combined with a sense of near-invulnerability. Unlike the regenerating health system of SR3, in SR4’s virtual world enemies drop health pickups like candy from pinatas, so as long as you buy a few health upgrades and keep up a respectable pace of killing (hard not to do given the arsenal of infinite-ammo alien weapons) dying is something you usually have to work for. Even enemies with superpowers of their own quickly become pushovers, and all you ever have to do to get out of trouble is leap. It's only during minibosses fights where health is scarce that I was given cause to play carefully.

Even though I rarely needed weapons, SR4's gun selection has some winners. Beyond the pew-pew-pew of the alien pistol, the Disintegrator (borrowed from Red Faction) and the Abductor (which sucks everything into the sky) steal the show... even if the promising Dubstep gun ends up being an ineffective disappointment. I also love how most conventional weapons come with multiple cosmetic model options, such as pistol homages to Blade Runner and Firefly.

Yet with great power have come great drawbacks, as so many good features carried over from SR3 now feel completely vestigial. Why do I need gun upgrades when I can shoot fireballs from my hands? Why should I bother summoning homies to help me in combat when I can throw tanks with my mind? What good are customizable cars with afterburners when they only slow me down?

What’s worse is that going back to reality to do story missions causes whiplash. “What do you mean I can’t super-jump? Running is so sloooooooow here! This sucks!” Even driving the new stompy robot suit (cribbed from Volition’s own Red Faction: Armageddon) feels like a handicap. Yes, the withdrawal pains are so bad they have me complaining about a robot suit. I couldn’t help feeling like a spoiled child who’s sick of all his expensive toys, yet cries when they’re taken away.

It’s a mistake to give us the most powerful and game-transforming abilities first, because Steelport almost immediately loses the sense of place and character it has in SR3, and that leaves around 20 hours of story missions to play through without really caring about the world. Letting us literally jump over the entire map is a waste of a major asset.

Volition seems aware of this, and attempts to lure us back down into the streets by littering the city with a boggling 1,400 collectible glowing things used as currency for upgrading powers. That trick works for a while, as gobbling them up has a rewarding Pac-Man feel to it, but eventually their numbers thin out and the cost of new powers rises to the point where collecting feels like the chore it is.

It tries again with dozens of opportunities for side activities, as is Saints Row's custom. Many are recycled, like destruction-derby Mayhem missions and the masochistic Insurance Fraud (which feels kind of broken and floaty with superpowers). A few new ones make use of our powers, like super-speed foot races and super-jump platforming courses, but climbing the enormous alien towers is the stand-out – it’s one of the few times where precise use of your powers actually matters in an interesting context. (It feels inspired by Far Cry 3’s radio-tower climbs.) It also highlights how difficult it is to control exactly how high and far you jump – but again, that rarely matters.

Since Steelport is largely rehashed, most of Saints Row IV's variety and personality comes from its unique mission maps. You rescue the Saints crew from virtual imprisonment, including a hellish 1960s sitcom world, a Splinter Cell parody, and even revisiting the original Saints Row's Stillwater. There’s another one I won’t spoil, but it really stands out as a clever and visually awesome homage to old arcade games. Settings are often great, but mission design as a whole is rarely more than standard-issue, and it’s really only the superpowers and ridiculous context that makes them feel interesting.

It was kind of a pain to have to keep returning to my ship to meet with my crew and get new missions, but worth it for the Mass Effect-inspired romance gags (Kinzie’s by far the best) and a few legitimately surprising and fun moments in the preposterous story. It feels strangely low-budget, though, when your teammates refuse to turn to look at you when you speak to them, and glitchiness in animations isn't uncommon.

Two-player co-op remains a standard Saints Row feature, and it's definitely enhanced by the superpowers. Watching another player demolish waves of aliens with ice blasts and shockwaves while dressed as a bearded lady in a mascot outfit is almost as much fun as doing it myself, and chasing each other across the rooftops and throwing cars at each other in deathmatch is terrific, as long as both players are working to make it fun and lag doesn't cause too much of the bad kind of mayhem.

And again, the Saints Row character editor deserves a special mention. It's largely carried over from SR3, but it's a fantastic toy that lets you play as virtually anybody, allowing you to play your part relatively straight, infringe on intellectual property (the Hulk works well, I find), or just go completely nuts. The number of costume options new and old is simply astonishing - there’s more here than I know what to do with. I was running around in nothing but a towel for a few hours. Just browsing the vast selection of characters other players have uploaded is at least an hour or two of good entertainment.


The Verdict

With its recycled map and wildly overpowered abilities, playing Saints Row IV feels like a lot like enabling 🤬 -like cheat codes in Saints Row The Third and going nuts. Its ridiculous story, goofy characters, self-aware humor, and amazing character editor make it all work, especially for those of us who’ve played the previous games and can appreciate its in-jokes. But its appeal is shortened by the ludicrous speed at which we can zip across it and grow tired of its lack of challenge.


7.3 Good
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Comments

  • 1CK1S1CK1S Members Posts: 27,472 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Don't know why this game series is still breathing all of them are trash except for the first one!!!
  • blackkevblaziniblackkevblazini Members Posts: 1,445 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Saints Row IV was originally an expansion pack to The Third called Enter the 🤬 . That kinda sucks cause the map is more or less the same. Playing in the EXACT same city is what 🤬 Crackdown 2 up....

    But I loved The Third something fierce, so I'll cop this regardless.
  • ShencotheMCShencotheMC KING Members Posts: 26,051 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Only problem with the Third was that it was short. Game's been getting nothing but good reviews. GTA fans need to chill the 🤬 out with that hate
  • Melanin_Enriched Melanin_Enriched Your favorite basketball-american gentleman Members Posts: 22,868 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Game will be 🤬 like it's predecessor.
  • scrapper1scrapper1 ChicagoMembers Posts: 2,923 ✭✭✭✭✭
    And GTA 5 approaching dont make 🤬 any better..
  • shizzashizza Members Posts: 1,087 ✭✭✭
    More like Death Row ... RIP
  • blackkevblaziniblackkevblazini Members Posts: 1,445 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Broddie wrote: »
    Outside of being a sandbox game Saint's Row has been nothing like GTA since the first game. People who still say that 🤬 just expose themselves as people who have not played both franchises.

    People gonna say that about it as long as it continues to be a sandbox in a city game. But I agree, Saint's Row most def been it's own wierd ass thing. Saint's Row lets you do the 🤬 GTA won't prolly ever add.

    If they allow Michael, Trevor, and Franklin to jack cars in GTAV by drop kicking the windshield out, I'd geek.
  • earth two supermanearth two superman ladies please dont fight. E2S is here all night! Members Posts: 17,149 ✭✭✭✭✭
    way different games. truthfully id rather play sleeping dogs over SR or GTA, but im sure the next ones will be fun.
  • genocidecuttergenocidecutter Members Posts: 17,825 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Looks like 🤬
  • KNiGHTSKNiGHTS Mr. Fifth Letter Your ConscienceMembers Posts: 4,435 ✭✭✭✭✭
    way different games. truthfully id rather play sleeping dogs over SR or GTA, but im sure the next ones will be fun.

    If they put Sleeping Dogs hand-to-hand combat in GTA or Saints Row, they'd be scrapping for GOAT franchises.
  • VulcanRavenVulcanRaven I don't knowMembers Posts: 18,859 ✭✭✭✭✭
    SR i just too stupid. I got part 3 from Plus and never played it since the first time I downloaded. The controls are garbage much worst than GTA.
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0 Regulator
    edited August 2013
    The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • RawAceRawAce Members Posts: 4,800 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I hope this means they scrap the franchise and start a new series
  • joshuaboyjoshuaboy Members Posts: 10,858 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Broddie wrote: »
    Outside of being a sandbox game Saint's Row has been nothing like GTA since the first game. People who still say that 🤬 just expose themselves as people who have not played both franchises.



    This right here ...... SR is straight extreme comedy which is what they set themselves up to be. Never meant to be taken seriously
  • kanggoodiekanggoodie Members Posts: 3,354 ✭✭✭✭✭
    joshuaboy wrote: »
    Broddie wrote: »
    Outside of being a sandbox game Saint's Row has been nothing like GTA since the first game. People who still say that 🤬 just expose themselves as people who have not played both franchises.



    This right here ...... SR is straight extreme comedy which is what they set themselves up to be. Never meant to be taken seriously

    except for the first one. which was actually GOAT.. they seen that they couldnt go heads up with GTA so they started getting goofy afterwards
  • joshuaboyjoshuaboy Members Posts: 10,858 ✭✭✭✭✭
    kanggoodie wrote: »
    joshuaboy wrote: »
    Broddie wrote: »
    Outside of being a sandbox game Saint's Row has been nothing like GTA since the first game. People who still say that 🤬 just expose themselves as people who have not played both franchises.



    This right here ...... SR is straight extreme comedy which is what they set themselves up to be. Never meant to be taken seriously

    except for the first one. which was actually GOAT.. they seen that they couldnt go heads up with GTA so they started getting goofy afterwards



    2nd was actually nice, except for the driving physics. 3rd is when they went real over the top, but it was still fun. Gonna be a liar if I said I wasn't gonna get this. But not right away, SR3 came out free on PS+ a few months after I got it, so I'll give this a bit and wait and see.
  • kanggoodiekanggoodie Members Posts: 3,354 ✭✭✭✭✭
    yea @joshuaboy thats how i got the third.. while i took every one elses critique of the game *cough cough @lawtrafaglar * and shooed me away from coppin it, i actually like it alot.. glad its free on PS+.. prolly wait till this new gets on there too
  • Melanin_Enriched Melanin_Enriched Your favorite basketball-american gentleman Members Posts: 22,868 ✭✭✭✭✭
    🤬 , if you bought that wack 🤬 for 60 dollars i doubt you would have liked it.
  • joshuaboyjoshuaboy Members Posts: 10,858 ✭✭✭✭✭
    🤬 , if you bought that wack 🤬 for 60 dollars i doubt you would have liked it.


    I bought it for full price (around 80 here) and I liked it. It's a relief from all the serious want to be real life games once in a while.
  • scrapper1scrapper1 ChicagoMembers Posts: 2,923 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2013
    Funny thing is...it is the exact same city as SR3..no changes at all. They need to stop cranking this game out yearly, take a year off and craft something special. They took an expansion pack for SR3 and expanded it into a game..how lazy is that? Then the game has so many superpowers and dominant weapons that its like youre playing in 🤬 mode..lame,right?

    Watch Dogs about to take their spot at (a distant) #2 in this action/open world genre. Nobody is learning 🤬 from the GTA franchise.. why do something if you arent trying to be great at it? Rockstar Games dying laughing at this 🤬 , i bet.
  • joshuaboyjoshuaboy Members Posts: 10,858 ✭✭✭✭✭
    scrapper1 wrote: »
    Funny thing is...it is the exact same city as SR3..no changes at all. They need to stop cranking this game out yearly, take a year off and craft something special. They took an expansion pack for SR3 and expanded it into a game..how lazy is that? Then the game has so many superpowers and dominant weapons that its like youre playing in 🤬 mode..lame,right?

    Watch Dogs about to take their spot at (a distant) #2 in this action/open world genre. Nobody is learning 🤬 from the GTA franchise.. why do something if you arent trying to be great at it? Rockstar Games dying laughing at this 🤬 , i bet.


    Rockstar got a wayyyyyy bigger budget than any of them though.
  • MR.CJMR.CJ Members Posts: 64,689 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Saints row 2 was GOAT
  • MelqartMelqart Epistemophilic Pronounced Malk-artGuests, Members Posts: 3,679 ✭✭✭✭✭
    They should've had the magic powers in w/e missions they were needed on, then took them away as incentive to beat the game
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0 Regulator
    The user and all related content has been deleted.
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