Saints Row 4 Review: Perverts Of The World, Unite And Take Over

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My first impression of Saints Row IV was that it was basically ass and titties, the game.

Turns out, I was absolutely right. But it’s so much more. Imagine DJ Assault’s ode to buttocks and breasts, only covered in gold, laying on a velvet, memory foam mattress, holding the most expensive bottle of champagne money can buy as a present for your anniversary, and you’re somewhere close to what it’s been like playing this thing.

It’s a nonstop overdose of references, in-jokes, balls-out ass-kicking and goofy, stupid fun. It offers the chance to kill people with dubstep, have sex with almost all of your friends, and wield impossibly awesome superpowers. It’s also a surprisingly intelligent, almost constant hi five to outcasts, freaks, dorks and perverts. But mostly, Saints Row IV is a celebration of the people who’ve stuck with the series since the original game launched in 2006, and it compares most strongly not to any other video game, but to the Fast and Furious franchise. And just like this year’s Fast 6, Saints Row 4 should be studied by future generations who want to know how to get pandering to longtime fans precisely right.

This is especially impressive when you consider the tribulations Volition has gone through since Saints Row: The Third. I wouldn’t have been shocked if it turned out to be a half-finished mess. Saints Row IV has some problems, chief among them the fact that legacy elements like the open-world setting never quite mash up perfectly with the way it tells its story. But those problems are minor. Saints Row IV just rules like a dictator, and probably marks the moment Volition finally stepped out from under Rockstar Games’ shadow.

But you know what? F*ck that sentimental nonsense. This game kicks all kinds of ass; buy it, and play the sh*t out of it.

Saints Row IV: – Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC (Reviewed)
Developer: Volition, Inc.
Publisher: Deep Silver
Release Date: August 20, 2013
MSRP: $59.99

The Story

In a way, Saints Row IV can’t really be understood except as the second half of Saints Row: The Third. More than any other game in the series it functions most effectively as a direct sequel to its predecessor. But it is also presented very clearly as the final chapter in the Saints Row series (at least in current continuity), and that appears to have liberated Volition to do whatever the hell they felt like.

Soon after then events of Saints Row: The Third, the Saints have, for some reason, teamed up with agents from MI6 to stop a terrorist from destroying the United States. As a result of their heroics, the (player character) Boss of the Saints ends up elected President of the United States, which draws the attention of Zinyak, ruled of the interstellar Zin Empire.

Zin decides to invade Earth, taking samples of the planet’s best and brightest for what you eventually learn is a kind of intellectual animal preserve, including the Saints. Placing the Boss into a simulation based on the city of Steelport from Saints Row: The Third, Zinyak hopes to crush the Boss’s spirit and turn him or her into a slave. Obviously that’s a stupid mistake, and the game chronicles the Saints’ quest to kill Zinyak and get revenge for his anti-earth bombast.

This means surviving and then escaping the simulation with the help of your crew, some copious violence, and inarguably awesome superpowers. But should you even care? For once, yes. Typically, Saints Row plots have concerned a quest to take down rival gangs and establish your gang as the ruler of your city. Even Saints Row: The Third stuck to this structure while subverting it thanks to an inventive plot involving paranoia about terrorism and the soulless quest for fame. Saints Row IV abandons this idea completely, replacing it with a story that combines The Matrix, Independence Day, The Mass Effect series and The Breakfast Club.

Saints Row IV is packed with nods to series history, reasons to play every single mission and side quest, ridiculous plot twists, and constant yuks, and at the same time it somehow, no kidding, manages to make a game about hardened criminals fighting to save the human race while killing indiscriminately feel like a touching character study. And somehow, even without smoking a bag of crack cocaine, it all ends up working.

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10 Comments on Saints Row 4 Review: Perverts Of The World, Unite And Take Over

Heru

On August 14, 2013 at 7:03 am

This review is a bit long-winded, but it’s too busy being awesome to notice.

On a side note, now that SRIV is finished maybe someone can convince Volition to buy back the Freespace IP…. now that would be awesome.

AxΣtwin

On August 14, 2013 at 9:51 am

lol “11 comments” yet only 1 actually shows up.

So I have questions.

1. When you look at all the side activities in SR3 and compare them to SR2, 3 comes up short. Almost feeling rather shallow. Is this still a problem for 4? Or have the increased the number of activities you do?

2. With the exception of a couple missions, the first 50% (I’m not kidding, I was 56% of the way through the game according to the progress bar) of the game was basically one tutorial for the side activities only, disguised as the “main mission”. Have they repeated this as well?

3. Money was a surprisingly rare commodity in SR3. It felt like you never had enough to play around with until literally the very end of the game. Unless of course you were lucky enough to find AND kill Professer Genki roaming around the open world. Even then, the money you got off the corpse never lasted you very long. I’m not expecting to have unlimited money. However, if I’m halfway through the game, and I’m doing everything I can. My hourly income should not be a measly 5k dollars. Especially when my upgrades are running me 40-50k dollars. So my question, is, have they balanced out how you earn money vs how expensive upgrades are?

4. Finally, the ultimate question. Is this game better than SR3?

Swcloud99

On August 14, 2013 at 9:53 am

Please answer ax3twin’s question please.
It’s everything I’m wondering about SR4.

Ross Lincoln

On August 14, 2013 at 10:04 am

Hi guys,

from the review:

“But the open world segments which largely consist of glorified excuses to force you to do side activities in order to level up contrast poorly.

In order to increase your powers, you have to complete side activities to unlock them, then collect in-game items in order to purchase upgrades to those powers. In order to increase your basic attributes like health or ammo capacity, you need to level up by… completing side activities and collecting in-game items. The activities, ranging from races and platforming puzzles to fight club battles and ‘hacking,’ are plenty of fun, and the addition of completion tiers give you more to do with them. But even those activities carried over from previous games feel more like a distraction than an asset.

the side activities, while fun, feel superfluous. But they take up a mandatory 50% or so of the game, making them feel like chores. This is especially apparent when compared to the actual story missions.”

The difference here is there is a lot more real story than it felt like in SR3. I LOVED SR3, but I agree that much of what passed for missions was side mission tutorial. It’s similar here, but there’s more to do all around so it doesn’t quite feel so bad.

I think it’s slightly better than SR3. (My SR3 review gave that game a 90.)

Ross Lincoln

On August 14, 2013 at 10:06 am

As for money, I feel like it’s very well balanced. It’s difficult to completely power up your character too early, but it’s never difficult or too time consuming to get money to buy new upgrades. Though it is true that you’ll have to wait from time to time.

Ross Lincoln

On August 14, 2013 at 10:08 am

OH, and those invisible comments are pingbacks to other sites. Not sure why they’re not being listed here, looking into that.

Kazoo

On August 14, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Ok.. lemme ask this… I’ve never played, nor seen, a Saints Row game. If I wanted to try one out.. which one would I start with?

This review indicates that IV gets a lot of its awesomeness in the fact that it’s IV, so I’m afraid I would fail ti appreciate a lot of it.

Ross Lincoln

On August 14, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Start with 2. While there are parts of 4 (and 2) that won’t make a lot of sense without playing the first game, it’s basically just a semi-decent GTA clone. 2 is where Volition started making an effort to differentiate the series from GTA with added wackiness and way more diversity in side activities. It also ties directly into Red Faction: Guerilla, which is a nice touch. (just don’t remind me how Armageddon ruined the red faction series).

The thing to bear in mind is that SR2 is very dark compared to 3 and 4. It makes sense in context, kind of, and the transition won’t ruin your enjoyment. But it’s a bit of a shock at first. Also, unfortunately, the PC version of SR2 is , and the DLC isn’t available for it. So play SR2 on console then switch to PC for 3 and 4.

AxΣtwin

On August 14, 2013 at 12:38 pm

@ Kazoo – You could also watch a LP of the first game. I would link to one, but I don’t know if that’s allowed on here or not. I only watch completed LP’s done by those on the SA forums, so it’s not some random youtuber who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

coin

On August 22, 2013 at 11:14 am

how do I join this sever