Saints Row IV is an open world action-adventure game that takes place in the fictional city of Steelport, which was introduced to us in Saints Row: The Third. This is the fourth game in the series and the first instalment under the publisher Deep Silver (after they acquired Volition, Inc. from the now bankrupt THQ).
Before Saints Row IV‘s release, it was shown in trailers that taking a step up from previous instalments with even crazier gameplay and story elements. Throughout the series, Saints Row has gone from being similarly realistic like Grand Theft Auto to utterly insane. Saints Row IV focuses on an alien invasion and involves superhero powers.
As before, the player takes control of the leader of the Third Street Saints gang who is now the president of the United States. An alien attack, headed by the alien warlord Zinyak, has the Saints captured and planet Earth blown up. Now Zinyak has placed you back into a virtual simulation Steelport where you are able to acquire superhuman powers and carry out various missions in order to try and escape.
As mentioned, the game place takes place in Steelport again. This was perhaps due to the fact that Saints Row IV is actually an extended version of cancelled DLC for Saints Row: The Third. The world is more or less exactly the same, with some additions such as some alien towers and hovering ships. Most new environments we see are used in one-off missions which take us into a separate simulation. While in the same world, we do get a new perspective of the world as most of travelling is done by flying through the area. You barely get a chance to admire the details at that speed. Overall the environments were disappointing as one of the best things about the open world is the world, and when it is reused it feels cheap. The superhero abilities also make the world feel very small as you can get from one end to the other in just a couple of minutes.
The graphics look the same as before and while they aren’t bad, they don’t bring anything new.
The driving and shooting mechanics are pretty much the same as the last game. The superhero abilities do provide a new way of getting around and can be fun to use during combat. These powers can be challenging to control at the start but once you get a hang of them you can plough through your enemies with ease.
As in Saints Row: The Third, powers can be upgraded in the menu. Quests are also available here as well as the map, phone and all other upgrades.
The driving mechanics are also the same although used much less in the game due to the new abilities.
As Saints Row IV is focusing more on the fun, absurd aspects of the series, gameplay has changed along with it. You are no longer performing missions on the streets for gangs but instead entering virtual simulations and trying to bring down the virtual world around you. However the elements from previous games are still there such as getting the gang together and taking out rival gangs.
Missions mostly involve killing people or taking on tasks to do something related to the virtual environment. A lot less time is spent getting to the mission points as flying is so much quicker than driving there.
I’ve mentioned that the game is very repetitive from the previous instalment and it is. But Saints Row: The Third was very entertaining. Saints Row IV retains a lot of that entertainment, its just a lot of fun to play. I find myself laughing at things that happen and am always eager to play the next mission.
I found that the story didn’t keep itself together as previous Saints Row games did. Half the game is spent finding your old homies and then suddenly you’re on the final mission. Getting your gang together has always been a thing to do in Saints Row but usually that’s only at the beginning of the story.
Fighting enemies remains entertaining with all sorts of new ways to kill people. The superhero abilities and crazy weapons are always a blast to use. Everyone has their favourite weapon, be it the dubstep gun or dildo bat. Saints Row has always delivered on funny and powerful weapons.
What did sometimes retract from the entertainment was how buggy the game was. I was surprised to have fallen through the world a couple of times, to be stuck in a river on three occasions, or to have my character lock himself in position (during the final boss battle too). I think this is due to the fact that Steelport wasn’t intended to have flying citizens.
As with any Saints Row game there are a number of side missions, collectibles and things to unlock or buy. Saints Row IV is no exception and there are thousands of things to collect. Clusters are used to upgrade your superhero abilities and there are over a thousand of them. Its very easy to get distracted and go on a spree of collecting them, strangely it doesn’t get boring though.
The game has a lot to offer once you’ve completed the main storyline but things can get repetitive as most side-missions are the same. The multiplayer is just the normal campaign and doesn’t bring much else to the game other than having someone else to play the game with (which is how you should be playing the game).
So is Saints Row IV the game for you? If you’ve played any other Saints Row game and what you liked about it was its crazy side, then Saints Row IV will satisfy that. If you didn’t like the direction Saints Row: The Third went in, then don’t but Saints Row IV, it only gets more absurd. I’m not sure where you can go from here, how would a Saints Row V work and would it be fresh? As a comparison to Grand Theft Auto V, it makes Saints Row IV look rushed and cheap, GTA is on a whole new level. Saints Row IV is a game if you’re looking for something fun to play.