Saints Row IV Review
We’ve all asked ourselves what we would do if we had superpowers. We’d use them to fly, to become rich, to save the day…but who in their right mind would use them to punt a pedestrian or commit insurance fraud?
The folks behind Volition’s and Deep Silver’s Saints Row IV would. As the latest installment in the long-running Saints Row series, Saints Row IV puts you in the shoes of the President of the United Saints, a cocky SOB built by you that is ready to take on anyone and everyone that stands in his (or her!) way. After taking down a terrorist and curing cancer/solving world hunger, the POTUS is thrown into a simulation by the evil alien Zinyak. The plot is goofy, and it works in its favor — playing it straight just would not work in a game like this. However, it often feels like the narrative was created on the fly to frame each event, with missions being distinctly different form one another. One minute you’ll be in a superhero deathmatch, and the next you’ll be engaging in one of Professor Genki’s wacky games.
However, the story is not the main selling point of Saints Row IV — the wonderful world of Steelport is. Offering an open-world playground that is completely unlocked from the get-go, this area is full of collectibles and missions galore. In fact, the amount of tasks can be overwhelming, with over a thousand data clusters to collect, Flashpoints to take over, towers to climb, and challenges to overcome. Like the best open-world games, you can spend hours just goofing around before tackling any story mission — something I did on more than one occasion.
If anything, Saints Row IV’s weakest moments occur in its story missions. Certain tasks require a trip outside the simulation, stripping away all of your superpowers and most of your weaponry. These missions are almost always linear in nature, and often rely on traditional run-n-gun shooting found in countless other games. While they do not last for more than 30 minutes, they feel more like an obligation, a way to unlock more powers and open-world content to play around with. Nobody likes having to eat their broccoli before dessert.
Those who worry about the game feeling too similar to Saints Row: The Third need not fear. Even though both games share the same real estate, the new tasks and the addition of superpowers change the way you play and get around considerably. Police squads and jackable cars still exist, but they feel antiquated when compared to alien troops and super sprinting. When you can clear tall buildings in a single bound, driving is so passe.
The general rule of thumb in Saints Row IV is the wackier the better. When the game says nuts to the rules, it is an absolute blast. Enjoy Steelport on your own terms — after all, you’re the president.