Saints Row IV: A Review

Let me tell you a magical tale about the Saints Row series. The first was a generic Grand Theft Auto knock-off and thus isn’t worth talking about. The second saw how Grand Theft Auto 4 was caught up in being realistic and decided to keep things less realistic and add in a bit of wackiness in both the narrative and gameplay options – for example, you could drive septic tanks and spew their contents on enemies.

Then came Saint’s Row: The Third, a game so bonkers and fun, it was almost criminally so. This was the kind of game in which you could either strive to play through the story that parodies other popular video games and movies, play through the immense variety of different missions such as surviving a zombie outbreak or doing a variety of bizarre tasks for guy with a cat head – don’t ask – or just go bananas and go on a killing spree as most people do in these kinds of games.

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At this point, Volition (the developers of Saints Row) came up with the idea of making a dlc story chapter called “Enter the Dominatrix” which would be largely a parody of The Matrix and would revolve around your character being stuck in a fake reality where he had super powers and would try to escape. But then two things happened:

  1. Though Steven Colbert was originally going be the president of US in the game, it was changed so that the player character would be instead. And…
  2. THQ kinda went bankrupt. This lead publisher Deep Silver to acquire the rights to the Saints Row series and they decided that instead of making DLC, it would instead be the next iteration in the series.

Saints_Row_4_13633589119487You’re probably wondering why I just spent a good two paragraphs detailing a bunch of things anyone could look up on Wikipedia. That question also has a two part answer:

  1. We all know you wouldn’t have bothered to look any of this up. And…
  2. After playing Saints Row IV, you can really tell it was once just DLC and not it’s own stand-alone entry in a series.

After booting up the game, I marveled at the game’s graphics, textures and lighting. I did so because all three were beyond hideous. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in-game or cut-scene graphics. Both make the game feel dated and the poor lighting and an abundance of ugly textures don’t help the matter either.

Game cover from Wikipedia.

Game cover from Wikipedia.

I don’t particularly remember how good or bad Saint’s Row: The Third‘s graphics and textures were, so I can’t make a direct comparison but it’s worth noting that it came out in 2010, not 2013. What might’ve looked good or even passable back then does not necessarily look favorable three years later.

saints-row-4-04The first mission had me infiltrating a terrorist compound with a group of ai partners in what is a parody of Zero Dark Thirty. I only know that it was a parody of it because of the trophy that pops up at completion. This mission was extremely boring. It felt like it was being generic and as if it was a lame attempt to be “ironic” as if they don’t understand the meaning of the word. The mission was also loaded with quick-time events, all of which are horribly implemented, again as if to trying to be ironic but also as if they completely missed the point of irony.

After this, I was given the chance to create my own character using the notorious in-game character creation system. While I was enjoying this, I realized something that really made negative impact on my experience, and that is that with the exception of option to have your character be voiced by Nolan North (which is totally awesome and is also exactly what I did) the character creation system was relatively unchanged from that of Saints Row: The Third.

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Though not as bad as the first mission, the second didn’t fare much better either. I was now president and had to protect the White House from an alien invasion. SPOILERS: It doesn’t work. The protecting, not the invasion. The invasion part works relatively well.

It was at this point where I realized something else, Saints Row 4 isn’t very funny. There had been maybe a light chuckle or two from me at this point, but I looked back on how the mere opening of Saints Row: The Third caused me to erupt in laughter almost entire way through.

It has the same problem as the Deadpool game I reviewed not too long ago. Yeah, there are some funny moments, but there’s simply not enough of them. The moments could be wackier and there’s far too much low-brow humor that revolves around swear words and fecal matter and the like. Also, there were still more pointless quicktime events to be found.

When I finally got to the open-world city, my inner urge to create chaos was at an all-time high so I went on a killing spree. It was at this point where I started to notice that Saints Row 4 is glitchy and not in the fun sort of way. The sound would drop out at random times and at others it would persist when it shouldn’t. My mix-tape song kept going even after I got out of cars but then when I got back in a car the mix-tape refused to play.

Whenever I got in hectic firefights, the sound would start to drop out and so most shots weren’t heard. It was also around this time where I realized that the vehicle controls are horrible. This is bizarre seeing as the vehicle controls in both Saints Row 2 and Saints Row: The Third were among the best I’ve ever seen in video-games. Why they felt the need to change them, I do not know but, then again, you’ll probably be super sprinting instead of using vehicles in this game.

Saints-Row-4-dramaSpeaking of super powers, about two hours after playing the game, I finally got them. Yeah you heard me right. Two hours of gameplay to get to the big addition. But I suppose I’ve spent enough of this review complaining so I’ll just say the following, playing Saints Row 4 with super powers is heck of a lot of fun.

All the different melees you can do are sick. Jumping super high and chaining jumps to scale buildings along with super-speed adds to the free-flow style of play. You know, the style of play that the series is known for and it does make it stand out from it’s predecessor. It really does make me wonder why it takes so long to get to this.

The addition of super powers was a great move and while you can still do a lot of the same fun stuff you could in the last game, this seems to come at the price of almost no comedic charm, vastly outdated visuals, glitches, and lots of God-awful quick-time events that never go away.

Conclusion: 7.5/10

All of the images in this article are from the game Saints Row 4. Given the artistic criticism contained in this article, we will assume that our use of the images constitutes Fair Use. None of the above parties are affiliated with or endorse BoomPopMedia.

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