Saints Row IV is just like the rest of the Saints Row franchise in terms of the crude, rude, stupid humor that is present throughout the game. It is absurd and ridiculous and tons of fun. But where this game differs from its predecessors is the new superpowers that you obtain in the game.So do these powers change the game for the better, or do they end up doing more harm than good?
Okay so are you ready for the plot of the game? Are you sure? Okay here we go, Saints Row IV opens up with The Saints trying to stop terrorists from launching a nuclear missile on the United States, which they are eventually able to do. Then the story jumps forward 5 years later where you as The Boss are now President of the United States. And just as you are about to attend a press conference aliens invade the planet and begin their attack. Then after fighting said aliens you are thrown into a Matrix-style simulation of Steelport, and you must fight the aliens and free Steelport and Earth of their oppression. Whew! Yes this story is a bit crazy and over the top, and perhaps a bit confusing. But it offers a completely different experience from the other Saints Row games. With the inclusion of aliens and superpowers that you obtain, this game is a lot of fun.
The first feature in the game that I want to talk about is the level of customization that goes into pretty much every aspect of the game. After you take down the terrorists in the beginning you get to customize your character. I spent almost a whole hour just deciding how my character looked. It is ridiculous the amount of different choices that can go into making your character, which can make it a really personal thing. I of course made my character as over the top as I could as I made a buff man with curlers in his hair and gave him a deep feminine voice. He ended up looking and sounding a bit like the American Gladiator Hellga. But even after deciding how your character looks, you later get to dress them which again took a long time because of all the different options. You can also customize your guns and your car. But it doesn’t have the same impact because with the superpowers you obtain early on, you find guns and cars a bit useless at times. But overall I think that the customization has really expanded from the previous Saints Row games and it is adds a lot of fun and personal touch to your gaming experience.
The most important new feature to this Saints Row game is the addition of superpowers. This completely changes the game and how it’s played compared to its predecessors. As you progress through the Steelport simulation, you unlock superpowers. You begin with Super Sprint and Super Jump, and then add more attacking powers like Ice Blast and Telekinesis. Super Sprint allows you to run faster than any car on the road, and Super Jump allows you to jump over obstacles and scale your way up tall buildings. So with these powers alone, you almost never really need a car. Then when you add the offensive superpowers that you get, you at times don’t really need guns as well. With Telekinesis you can just pick up the aliens or cops or whoever you’re facing and throw them around like a rag doll. And with the Ice Blast power, you can freeze an area of people and shoot them or run through them, shattering them to smithereens. While of course it is amazing having superpowers, and it is a lot of fun just rampaging the city and doing whatever you want, they are of course way over powered. You will find very little that will challenge you through the game. Plus when you kill pedestrians or police or aliens, they drop health packs, so you never really feel like you are in that much trouble.
This game overall does play fairly different than Saints Row III, with some of the missions in the game take place in the Steelport simulation, while others you will be in a 1950’s version of Steelport or at times even the alien spaceship. This does break the game up quite a bit and it keeps throwing something different at you. And the guns available in the game are quite different as well, since you can have alien guns too, oh and a Dubstep gun. Let’s not forget the awesomeness that is the Dubstep gun! But as I said, with all your superpowers you will not need your guns as much as you would think. The battles in the beginning of the game are a lot of fun because you get to experiment with your powers and discover new and exciting ways to kill people. But as the games go on they become a bit boring and you end up just plowing through your enemies just to get through the mission.
The multiplayer in Saints Row IV just feels like it is there and doesn’t add too much to the game overall. You can play co-op with a friend, and seeing your friend’s wild character creations is the best part of the multiplayer. I would have liked to see a Grand Theft Auto Deathmatch style multiplayer, because going up against other players and their powers would be a lot of fun, but unfortunately that just wasn’t added.
I found the audio and sound aspect of the game to be really good and it was one of my favorite parts of the game. The voice acting for the characters is great, and the overall sound design of the game is phenomenal. There’s nothing like listening to some Aerosmith while trying to stop a nuclear missile from hitting the States. Or “What is Love” playing in the background as you are flying a spaceship. And I found that while not all the radio stations are great, The Mix 107.77 is. It offers a lot of variety and has a lot of good songs.
This is where I think the game lacks a bit. The graphics do not display as much of an improvement as you might like over the previous games in the series. And the overall atmosphere of Steelport is really dreary. There is no day or night, it is all just about gray. I found that it does take a bit away from the game, and instead of being an area where it could have excelled, it took a step back.
Overall, Saints Row IV is a fun game and you will get lots of enjoyment out of using your new found powers. But Steelport is largely unchanged from the previous game, other than the aliens of course. And your superpowers are a bit overpowered and you won’t face that many challenges throughout the game. This game almost feels like it could have been 20-30$ DLC for Saints Row III, since the city and a lot of the aspects of the game are the same. But if you are a fan of the franchise or you just always wanted to have superpowers and destroy things, then check out the game because you will probably like it. It is a fun open world game and the powers are just the icing on the cake. If you are looking for a cohesive story and great character development then this game probably isn’t for you. But overall, Saints Row IV is a solid game that has a lot to offer, and it’s hard to deny that this is a really fun game.
Final Score: 4/5