If you thought that they couldn’t top the shenanigans of Saints Row The Third, this sequel is even more insane. It raises eyebrows and draws smiles at the same time with its ridiculousness and unusual charm. Whether it’s worth your money though is another question.
Saints Row IV by Volition is all about chaos and mayhem, and is one of the titles sold by the now-defunct THQ and now published by Deep Silver that saves the publisher from the humiliation caused by Ride to Hell: Retribution. It has been stated that it could be the last game of the series’ current iteration, and it’s quite a swan song as the nonsensical plot has been made even more insane.
You still get the outlandish story and wild missions, a lot of which has the comedic styling that was present in the previous games. The Saints have transitioned from a street gang to celebrities to being an elite force, and you soon become the President of the United States. But just as you’re enjoying your presidential powers, an alien invasion force attacks the White Crib (your renamed White House). The alien leader Zinyak, an eloquent conqueror of worlds, then subdues you and throws you into a simulation of Steelport, where you are to reside in like a rat in a cage.
Trying to describe Saints Row IV in an attempt to look smart will only result in looking absolutely silly, because that’s just how it is. The premise of this game is stupid fun as it parodies everything, and ridiculousness is its strong point. As always, the writing is over-the-top and hog-wild. To supplement that, the character customization from Saints Row The Third is still there, and you can change your look anytime you go to a plastic surgeon in town. The user interface has become easier to use, so you can look at your quests and upgrade your abilities all in one place.
The movement and combat still retain the responsive controls that makes it fun, although it does get dull in the simulation modes when you have all those superpowers. Making this game a Prototype clone was a pretty bad idea overall. It trips up on how it tosses the superpowers at you fairly early, and not in some climax. Being able to run faster than cars and superjump over buildings makes jacking and driving vehicles in the game effectively pointless. For something that’s supposed to be a Grand Theft Auto clone on drugs, vehicles are supposed to still be an integral mechanic of the game. So when you can actually be more mobile without needing a car or helicopter, then there’s no point in riding one.
It’s pretty good fun in singleplayer, but it truly shines in co-op, which should last you several hours at a time as you and other friends try to finish missions and pull off all sorts of shenanigans. However, what you learn soon enough is that if you want to have fun in this game, then you have to handicap yourself and play it as if it’s the previous Saints Row games. It’s a fun game, but people have to be warned first on how this game jumps the shark, kills it with a harpoon, and defiles its corpse in the Vatican. It may just be too far out ridiculous for a lot of people, so its replay value is incredibly sketchy.
Perhaps what makes this game’s first impression not as good as that of Saints Row The Third is that Saints Row IV takes a lot of content and assets from its predecessor. The visual presentation, character customization, and many other things look very similar to the previous game. The setting Steelport itself looks and feels similar as well, even as a simulated Matrix world. If you’ve played Saints Row The Third quite a bit and are looking to explore in this game, perhaps the only real points of interest are the alien flash points that you have to clear out.
The best way to describe it is that it’s definitely entertaining to watch someone else play it, especially if you get to hear their reactions to all the violent wackiness in the game, but results may vary greatly if you play it yourself. This is a game that you can give a good score to since it has fairly good production value, and yet not like at all if it makes you cringe in some way. Saints Row IV has been quite an endeavor to review because it’s just crazy like that.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 8/10