Saints Row IV Review
Publisher: Deep Silver
Release Date: Aug. 20, 2013
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3 & PC
Genre: Third-Person Action, Open-World
Just when you thought the Saints Row games couldn’t get any zanier, The Third Street Saints return in a brand new adventure that packs in virtual reality, alien invasions and superpowers in a deliciously audacious sequel that pushes the boundaries of crude humor to a new level.
With Saints Row IV, Volition has once again raised the bar of parody-filled excellence to greater heights, bringing an incredibly entertaining experience that’s complimented by the raw sophomoric humor that has emboldened the franchise since day one.
The fourth chapter takes hits at dozens of iconic influences throughout pop culture; from the archetypes set forth by beloved comic book heroes to hit movies and celebrities, Volition brilliantly executes gut-busting laughs while delivering unforgettable action that’s flavored with high-voltage intensity.
Saints Row IV is a true testament to the fans with its huge offering of in-game activities, expansive character customization, and the definitive sandbox freedom that will keep players busy long after the complete the main campaign.
The storyline keeps the traditional stylish flair that has amassed a devoted following of fans, who are all too eager to sport the purple fleur-de-lis of The Third Street Saints with pride.
Previous entries in the series have all taken on various archetypes and plot structures that have built a solid foundation for the universe, yet Saints Row IV ushers in a new era of creativity and innovation with its focus on virtual reality simulations — yes, we’re in the Matrix…well kind of — and interstellar warfare against a species of ruthless alien overlords known as the Zin.
And we can’t forget the superpowers: this addition is responsible for a hefty percentage of the outlandish and memorable entertainment featured in the game itself. Armed with these abilities, players feel something close to godliness, and they feel as if Steelport is their own personal playground to do with as they see fit.
Are you ready for a wild ride? Good. Don’t worry about the seatbelts — you won’t need them where we’re going. In the simulator, we’ll be able to fly like the Man of Steel himself.
Intro: Welcome to the United Saints
The crew is back, and this time they’re not retaliating in turf wars against rival gangs who now they command the ultimate turf: The White House. The Boss runs the show as the Hustler-in-Chief of the United States, with the rest of the Third Street Saints making up his official cabinet. But his reign as the head of the United Saints is somewhat short-lived as an alien invasion breaks out, and soon Earth comes face-to-face with the dreaded Zin Empire.
Zinyak, the supreme overlord of the alien invaders, takes the Saints hostage and instead of killing them outright, he aims to break their their minds in a virtual reality simulation that’s specifically designed to whittle them down. After capturing the Saints, Zinyak lays waste to the entire planet, content with terrorizing his captives with the simulator’s devilish computer programs.
The Third Street Saints aren’t so easily conquered, however, and The Boss — aided by the techn0-genius skills of Kinzie — wreaks enough havoc to eventually break free of the simulation. After escaping the clutches of the Zin, The Boss joins the remnants of his cabinet (Kinzie and Keith David to start) in a stolen Zin spacecraft, intent on getting back his crew and making Zin pay the ultimate price.
Kinzie is able to hack the simulation and give The Boss a multitude of advantages that he doesn’t have in real life, and this is where the superpowers come into play. Armed with an array of enormously entertaining abilities like superjumping and sprinting like the Flash, The Boss unleashes total destruction on the simulation by means of virus uploads, hacking, and of course good old-fashioned explosive mayhem.
Little by little The Boss wins back his crew, having to enter each of the simulations that hold them captive in their own personal hell and break them free. In this way the Prez builds up the Third Street Saints, filling out the ranks with such notorious crew members as Shaundi, Pierce Washington, Ben King, Matt Miller and Asha Odekar.
As the Saints rejoin their Hustler-in-Chief, they aim to bring the Zin Empire to its knees and bring vengeance to Zinyak Saints Row style.
Game Mechanics: Customization, Controls & UI
SRIV has an insane variety of ways to customize your character. You can purchase a huge offering of comical outfits from shops like Let’s Pretend and Planet Zin to deck out your character as you see fit. Feel like jumping into a giant panda outfit and tossing cars into the air? Go right ahead. Want to jump into some samurai armor and lay waste to downtown Steelport? Sure!
Additionally players can fully customize their characters body appearance by going under the knife at Image as Designed shops. The customization is very similar to that featured in the third game as well, with your basic adjustments to hair, eyes, body type etc. as well as the outrageous effects still offered as well.
The basic HUD is quite the same as Saints Row the Third’s, with your basic mini-map, healthbars, mission objectives and weapon indicators in their appropriate spots. The few additions include a new power-bar which is nestled underneath the health/stamina meter.
The game’s menu interfaces are separated in a nine-pane grid that plots helpful additions like your map, quest list, power and upgrade page, music, camera (for in-game screenshots), phone, cache and the extras tab (cheats and character stats).
While the mini-map is incredibly useful, players also have access to an expanded map of Steelport that shows every visited location as well as shops and activities. There is a legend to show specific selections, allowing players to hone in on important locations, and you can also set a waypoint to be guided via on-screen indicators.
As far as controls, the game is very well tailored to gamepad play. Controls are fluid and adequately placed, and just about anyone can pick it up and play it right away. The only convoluted control scheme is the flight offering, which is a bit confusing at first as some vehicles have two mods (the Screaming Eagle, for one).
Combat: Superpower Techniques, Firearms & Homies
Wreaking havoc with a combination of superpowers and firearms is supremely enjoyable in Saints Row IV, and even more so in objective-based activities or during the main quest. Using a combination of certain powers in tandem creates a variety of strategies that players can use to cause even more mayhem, including the basics like using the Freeze Blast to freeze a group of enemies and then launching a rocket at them.
Other strategies include super jumping high in the air and then launching a massive stomp to smash enemies to smithereens, or even using Telekinesis to toss a huge vehicle at a smattering of Zin soldiers. You can even use Telekinesis to throw someone into the air, and then use the superjump/stomp combo to smash them when they hit the ground.
While superpowers are definitely helpful, they have their limits. Each Active Power has its own cooldown bar and cannot be used until its refreshed. Cooldown ratios can be changed via the upgrades menu, as well. Additionally the Passive Powers use Stamina, and once that’s depleted you can’t superjump/sprint.