The Saints series has come a long way since its origins as a GTA clone back in 2006. With Saints Row The Third taking the series in a completely different direction, Saints Row is now known as a game without boundaries. Saints Row 4 looks to take this even further with the inclusion of super powers and even more of what fans of the series have come to love. But, since its reveal, fans have been wondering whether or not the game is really worth the $60 price tag, especially to those who know about the game originating from what was supposed to be a DLC package titled “Enter the Domanatrix”. Let’s take a look.
Saints Row 4 is a mixed bag in many ways. The game introduces a whole new campaign, new ways to play and yet, still feels almost exactly like Saints Row The Third.
The beginning of Saints Row 4 is quite abrupt. You’re on a secret ops mission to take down a nuclear missile, you shoot a couple dozen bad guys, blow the nuke and fall through the roof of the White House and become President of the US of A. From there on things go haywire as Earth is invaded by an alien race called the Zin. The Saints, or at this point in time your Presidential cabinet, apart from Kenzie, are abducted by the Zin and it’s up to you to save the world and your friends. As you can probably already tell, the storyline is the quite simple save your friends and the world type affair, but then again, this is the Saints. Everything is simple, funny and fun to play, but after putting a good number of hours into Saints Row The Third, it just wasn’t enough for me.
That’s about as far as I will go into story detail to save the spoilers, but obviously if you’re playing Saints Row you’re not doing it for the story. Gameplay is the main key in the Saints games and there’s plenty to be had in Saints Row 4. The main draw for the 4th entry in the series is the inclusion of super powers, similar to the likes of those found in games like Crackdown and Prototype. The powers aren’t exactly original, but they’re perfect for the Saints Row games.
There’s quite the array of powers to obtain in Saints Row 4, ranging from telekinesis, super jumps, lightning fast running and plenty others to learn about for yourself. The game finds ways to get you to use each and every power and eventually you’ll be an unstoppable force mix-matching all the different powers together to take down enemies – and every once in a while an unlucky citizen that gets in your way – or maybe you’re just having a bad day… Either way, the game takes powers you’d find in all kinds of different super hero games and puts them all in one game. It’s a blast to earn them all and upgrade them and become a total badass, but it would have been nice to see some powers we haven’t seen before.
Once you’ve mastered all the powers, there’s an assortment of weapons to use in the game from your standard submachine guns and pistols, alien weaponry and, exclusively to Saints Row 4, guns like the Dubstep gun, abduction gun and plenty more. You’re always finding new ways to take down your enemies, combining powers and different weapons to make some really hilarious results. Which is exactly what Saints Row 4 is all about – play the game the way you want to play it.
There is some trouble with the open world aspect of the game, however. As with most open world games, there’s a police force on alert to give the player some trouble if they’re causing issues in society. Saints Row The Third put you in charge of the chaos that came about Steelport. In Saints Row 4, the oppressive force, the Zin, patrol the streets of Steelport, and sadly don’t give you much leeway in causing chaos without being reprimanded for it. They get quite annoying and will constantly pursue you until you catch a yellow orb that removes notoriety. As the world is a simulated reality (in the game), the Zin spawn out of orange orbs that literally pop up anywhere, giving you little chance to breathe as spaceships and other gangs chase you down at the same time.
Still though, just taking the time to run through the city doing whatever the hell you want is a joy and it’s quite possible to get lost in the game for hours at a time just having fun, especially if you’re playing online with a cooperative friend.
Aside from the main campaign there’s oodles of side missions and events to take part in all over the map. By the way, make sure to take a second and really study the map once you get the game – it might just give you a chuckle. And there’s no shortage of chuckles to be had while playing Saints Row 4. Just about everywhere you turn you’ll notice a reference to another popular video game. Heck, after the first 20 minutes or so I had already counted more references then I had fingers. Noticing a reference in the game feels like an achievement all on its own. There’s another reason I mentioned Crackdown above and for those of you that have played it, I’m sure you’ll figure it out right away.
Looking back at the side missions, if you’ve played Saints Row The Third you’ll know what to expect from Saints Row 4. For those of you who haven’t played a Saints game before, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the amount of variety offered in the side missions. Ranging from taking a space ship to cause as much damage as possible in a certain time period, to taking part in arena fights, there’s plenty to do in Steelport.
Thankfully, Saints Row 4 is 80% gameplay and 20% everything else. Graphically the game features very little improvement from Saints Row The Third. If there wasn’t a load of new content in Saints Row 4, you could have easily taken one look at the game and been disappointed that it hadn’t really evolved. This is one of my biggest complaints about Saints Row 4 – Volition has mastered the gameplay side of things, but didn’t really seem to take the time to make the game look more like a sequel than merely an add-on to Saints Row The Third.
The majority of the game takes place within a simulated world controlled by the Zin. As you’d probably expect, the game takes place in a rather drab environment since Aliens are taking over the world, giving a bit of a nod to Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon with its red skies and so on. Unfortunately, this just doesn’t work all that well for a Saints game. The game does a well enough job explaining why the world is the way it is, but I would have liked to see more color involved as everything is just dark and drab and feels boring.
The one part of the presentation that you’ll really enjoy with Saints Row 4 is the soundtrack. The main menu music of the game will be stuck in your heads for days as it’s quite similar to the theme from Saints Row The Third, but offers its own style in how it’s presented. There are also a number of radio stations to listen in to and the voice acting is well done, both quality wise and humorously.
As with any open world game the size of Saints Row, there’s plenty of replayability offered. Whether it be acquiring trophies if that’s your thing, to obtaining the 1000 plus data clusters scattered around Steelport, there’s always something to come back to. Fighting off the Zin gets boring pretty fast though as there’s nothing really special about the way they fight other than their aesthetics.
So, the question being asked by many Saints Row fans is whether or not the game is worth a full $60 purchase. Well, honestly, it’s really hard to say. If you’re a big fan of the Saints series and put a number of hours into the third outing, then go for it. I can’t say you would be disappointed as you’re probably looking for another reason to play some more Saints. If you’re a first time buyer then you’ll definitely have a good time with Saints Row 4. But, if you’ve played the Third and didn’t bother finishing it, I can’t recommend you pick up the fourth. It’s a good game in its own right, but the game just doesn’t do enough new to be all that interesting. It’s fun no doubt, but the novelty of it wears off rather quickly.
(Reviewed on PS3. Thank you to Deep Silver for the review copy.)
ONLY SINGLE PLAYER SCORE
Story – 7/10
Gameplay/Design – 8.5/10
Visuals – 7.5/10
Sound – 9/10
Lasting Appeal – 9/10
Overall – 8/10
(Not an average)
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Publisher: Deep Silver