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

So What Doesn’t Work?

Saints Row IV does a great job of varying gameplay between story missions and open-world play, but the two styles never feel that well combined. The actions that move the story along – rescuing your friends from Zinyak or taking steps to defeat him – tend to happen in stand-alone segments. These moments are great, and frequent. 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.

Think about it like this: You love the strip club. And you love booze. But what if you were at the strip club and every time you wanted a drink you needed to walk down the street, order a drink, drink it, then walk back? It’ll get old eventually, even if the strippers will kindly wait for you to return before resuming. Might as well just stay at the strip club. Except you need to buy drinks in order to unlock more stripper routines.

Ok, this metaphor completely fell apart, but the point remains: 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 story itself is so well told – wallowing in cliches and fanservice in equal measure, designed to provide one ‘holy shit’ moment after another – that it’s a shame the open world aspects keep you from it. Likewise, the story missions that take place outside of the sandbox are fun, varied, and in service to a really fun story. But they’re abysmally linear, with a few exceptions.

This is no doubt a legacy of the original concept for Saints Row IV, a stand-alone expansion to Saints Row: The Third that would have been half the size. I suspect that expansion is still the core of Saints Row IV, with the non-Steelport sections created to pad out the game into a full length game. It’s not low budget by any measure, but I wish they’d found a way to put more truly scripted content in the open world sections, and make the story missions feel more open.

Co-op was also a mess, though it’s worth pointing out this was only with other journalists weeks before the game comes out. Volition has been patching SRIV pretty regularly since sending out press builds and no doubt the glitches seen in co-op will be fixed. But be warned, the game at least right now has a tendency to freeze up when you play with other people, especially annoying during gameplay missions.

But these are small things, considering how much fun this thing is. Midway through the game, one characters asks The Boss “you’re easily bored, aren’t you?”, to which the boss says “I don’t know, I’m too busy being awesome to notice.” Saints Row IV is all at once puerile, profane and touching, but mainly, it’s too busy being awesome for you to ever get bored. Seriously, buy this f*cking game.

Pros:

  • Great story that rewards long time players and newcomers alike
  • Extremely well-chosen soundtrack, excellent voice talent
  • Gorgeous graphics, easy on lower end PCs and great on high end rigs
  • Varied gameplay
  • Designed to be as fun as possible

Cons:

  • Open world elements are somewhat distracting from the story
  • co-op issues during the review period

Final Score: 93/100


Game Front employs a 100-point scale when reviewing games to be as accurate about the experience as possible. Read the full rundown of what our review scores mean.

1) A process that really started when the SR2 DLC made it clear that Red Faction takes place in the same universe.

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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