by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
I don’t understand why people still attempt to draw comparisons between Saints Row and Grand Theft Auto. Sure, they are both third person open world crime games, but it has been a good few years since they have shared any meaningful similarities beyond that. Saints Row 2 showed glimmers of silliness. Saints Row The Third took silliness to the extreme. Saints Row IV however has taken the concept of ‘silly’, added to it equal measures of ‘insanity’ and ‘zaniness’ and mixed it all together into a glorious bundle of ridiculousness. I only noticed yesterday how the convention behind the numbering system has been different in every game, in a very Fast and Furious-esque “who cares?” attitude to naming. Perhaps the next game in the franchise will be titled Saints Row Five? But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s talk about Volition’s latest game.
Something from out there came here
You once again take on the role of the leader of the Saints, a now globally recognised gang. After a series of events culminating in you riding a nuclear missile through the air to attempt to disarm it before it reaches Washington (don’t ask), it isn’t long before you become President of the United States yourself (of course). The good times don’t last long though, as humanity’s worst fears are realised when an evil alien race known as the Zin invades Earth. You and the other members of the Saints are held hostage in a simulated version of Steelport. With the help of your hacker friends Kinzie and Matt, and combat backup from the rest of the crew - including Vice President Keith David - you must disrupt the system enough to break free and hopefully save the human race.
The Matrix came out fourteen years ago, and it’s getting to the stage that movies get to when you hear yourself saying “What do you mean you’ve never seen The Matrix?”, and then think to yourself “...oh I’m getting old”. However, as one of the most important films in its genre, you can forgive Saints Row IV for making quite so many references to it. Everything from “finding an exit”, down to diving into the very bodies of enemies and destroying them from within gets a mention. The pop culture references don’t stop there either, in fact I’m sure the rest of this review could be composed simply of the names of games, films and television shows Saints Row IV leans on. Some of them might seem a little outdated, maybe intentionally so, but if you just take everything the game throws at you as it comes, you’re certain to have a much better experience.
Return to Steelport
Although it is a simulation, you will be familiar with Steelport if you played the previous game. The landscape is much the same, with most of the old locations in the same place. It is noticeably different though, with a liberal scattering of alien hardware, and a lack of sky and water. Since this world is simulated, the laws of the universe can be bent and broken. You now have what can only be described as super powers. Super sprint allows you to travel faster than any car ever could, and combined with Super Jump you can clear multiple city blocks in a matter of seconds. You have a limited stamina bar, but it isn’t long before you upgrade your powers and it becomes irrelevant. At this point you can leap around to your heart’s content. The movement in this game is stupidly fun to control, making the usually boring matter of getting to your next quest location a joyous exercise. Your powers also stretch to you being able to shoot out fire and ice from your hands, smashing down into the ground with great force, and even letting you move objects, and people, around with telekinesis.
New gameplay options make this silly series even more fun. Great writing and customisation options.
Some of the side missions become tedious after a while.