Saints Row IV Review
Guns, Strategies & Homies
Firearms play the most integral part in combat, as superpowers are secondary in terms of overall combat. Players can also execute some pretty nifty finishing moves by sprinting and pressing the superkick button an enemy. Each gun has its own set of stats and traits which can be upgraded at Friendly Fire shops with Cache–the in-game currency.
Weapons can also be customized via appearance and type, as players can choose which model and type of weapon class they’d like to equip at once. For example, there are various types of Special Weapons including the extremely and hilariously powerful “Merica multigun, the Abduction Rifle
Cache is earned upon completion of every quest and mission, and players earn lumps of cache over time for various challenges–like killing a certain number of people, headshot combos or even jump combos–as well as slaying aliens and the like.
Jumping, sprinting and dashing are great ways to evade enemy fire especially if you’re running low on health. Enemies drop health tokens, and there are various character upgrades that can increase maximum HP as well as rewarded health for each token picked up.
Homies can also be called into action via the Phone panel, and the more Saints you save via the main quest, the more you’ll be able to call upon to help you in battle. Additionally players can rally up followers by recruiting them from locations they’ve taken over via Flashpoints and towers.
Virtual Reality & Character Progression
When it comes to gameplay, Volition has captured the god-like rapture of being a superhero in your very own virtual playground. You can do what you want, when you want and when the calvary comes in bring you to justice, you can wipe them out with an array of creatively designed superpowers.
The game inspires such childish glee that it will bring a smile to any gamers face. The mayhem-inducing sandbox action is featured throughout, tapping the vein set of its GTA predecessors while incorporating the original Saints Row universe.
Powers, Upgrades & Level Ups
Saints Row IV features a dynamic RPG-style character progression system wherein gamers earn XP and currency (Cache) upon completion of quests, activities, side-missions and challenges. Upon reaching a certain level of experience, players gain a level, and there are various level requirements for certain character upgrades–especially the more powerful enhancements.
The superpowers are perhaps the most enjoyable aspects of the game, as they imbue players with a near godly status. The more enjoyable powers are the ones you get right off the bat: super sprinting and super jumping are extremely fun, and empower players with the ability to leap across the sky. Gliding is perhaps the most entertaining power as well, as you can’t exactly fly, but its a great way to cover distance fast.
More powers are unlocked via the completion of main quests and all of them can be upgraded by spending Data Clusters, which are scattered throughout Steelport. Many of the upgrades are costly, especially the better ones, so you’ll have to get used to flying across the city to find them.
The powers are split between two groups: active and passive. Active abilities include powers like Blast, Telekinesis, Stomp and Buff, whereas passive abilities are your basic super sprint, jump, dash etc. There are a total of eight powers in all, with four actives and four passives.
Each set of powers also have two tabs where players can spend Data Caches to unlock new upgrades and elements for each power. For example, the Blast ability can be set to one of three elements: freeze (immobilizes enemies in ice), fire (burns enemies over time) and mind control (causes enemies to fight along your side). Telekinesis, Stomp and Buff all have three additional elements that can be unlocked via quests and level progression.
Players can also spend Cache to upgrade The Boss’ basic character abilities, including maximum HP, Stamina, Homie abilities/stats and more. It’s a good idea to regularly upgrade basic necessities like Health and Stamina right away, however there are a variety of ways to strategically plot your upgrades to build the perfect badass. The choices are up to you, after all.
The virtual city of Steelport is the main setting for the game, and is filled with humorous Zin propoganda as well as citizens, vehicles, stores and buildings. It’s a scaled virtual representation of the actual city, complete with people (and aliens) who act quite realistically.
Players will fight to overthrow the Zin’s control over Steelport by taking over Flashpoint areas and claiming them for the Saints. Additionally gamers can scale huge alien towers in the sky and claim them, further expanding the Saints territory. After claiming a zone, The Boss can call upon followers to help him in battle–and often your allies will help you when you’re getting overrun by enemies in Saints-owned territory, which can be a big help.
The game itself takes place in and out of the simulation in a way similar to The Matrix, however the simulations are character-specific: rather than being a set place, such as The Matrix, Zinyak’s simulations are specifically designed to be your own personal hell, making it different for each person.
When The Boss enters the simulation, he’s entering his own personal simulation–and when his homies are patched in they are consequently entering that same program.
Flashpoints, Security Deletions & Hotspots
Disrupting the simulation doesn’t just involve blowing up cars and gunning down aliens: there are a variety of ways to disturb Zinyak’s simulation.
Players can upload viruses and hack various areas via Target objectives, however one of the main ways to promote disarray is through claiming Flashpoints, enacting Security Deletions and overthrowing Hotspots.
Both objectives involve killing a squad of Zin troops to claim an area, whereas Virus Injection objectives are more survival-based objectives wherein players have to take out wave after wave of enemies–many of which are randomized and quite hilarious.
Hotspots are somewhat more tedious and methodical as they involve players shutting down Zin-controlled generator stations one by one until the zone’s shield is down. Once down, the standard “kill all aliens” objective stands, claiming th territory for the Third Street Saints.
Causing havoc in Steelport has its consequences. The more destruction that you mete out, the more your notoriety fills–a radial menu that surrounds the mini-map. Causing more mayhem leads to an influx of Zin troops moving in to attack you, which can be great if you’re in the mood to test out your new guns or powers…but annoying if you’re trying to do a quest.
When the notoriety circle is filled, a fearsome Warden comes to hunt down The Boss and put an end to his virtual mischief. Wardens are powerful and can be a challenge; they have shields that can only be temporarily broken by the use of powers–since powers have cool-downs, you cant just keep spamming them–and taken out by a barrage of gunfire.
Notoriety can be wiped by catching a flighty yellow orb known as the Master Controller that zooms across Steelport. These can be a bit irksome to catch and destroy, but patience and skilled sprinting will almost always triumph. When you catch the little glowing orb, be sure to spam the Y button a bunch to ensure that it’s destroyed, and huzzah–your notoriety is wiped clean.