When I played Saints Row: The Third a few years ago, I have no problem admitting that it was one of my top games of 2011.
I had a blast with co-op and wanted more. However, when I found out that a DLC was scrapped to use it for a brand new game, I had doubts that it was just going to be hastily thrown together to make a quick buck, especially given THQ’s status at the time.
What Volition has shown with Saints Row IV, though, may be the pinnacle of the series and the best purchase Deep Silver has made.
The game starts off with an even bigger bang then jumping out of a plane in the last title. I don’t want to ruin too much of this intro scene. I’ll just say that you “Don’t wanna miss a thing.”
You then get whisked back to the White House for a short amount of time before the Earth gets invaded by the Zin Empire, led by Emperor Zinyak who captures the president (you) and tosses him into a virtual reality representation of Steelport. Players are tasked with breaking out of the simulation, freeing his crew from their own virtual prisons and kicking the crud out of the Zin.
This virtual reality gives the game room to shine even more than the last title. The game adds plenty of more crazy features, keeps some fan favorites and gives plenty of pop culture references that will make you laugh throughout.
The game also has great pacing to go along with the laughter. It changes throughout, going from zombies to virtual tanks to 1980s scenes and more. Nothing ever overstays its welcome, and you’ll always be trying to figure out what the game is going to throw at you next. Actually, the game shines when it does get away from Steelport and tries these new locations, as they’re great breaks from what is already known and give the game a lot more depth and enjoyment.
Outside of story missions there are plenty of other quests and challenges to take on. The main Saints members have Loyalty quests to complete, and there are plenty of activities throughout the city.
Activities range from new ones, such as fighting hordes of enemies or the Genki Bowl, where you throw stuff through rings, to the classics like Insurance Fraud and stealing certain vehicles.
There are also some specific activities to do against the Zin, the only rival group in the game. Players can clear guards from Flashpoints, take out specific enemies, inject viruses through waves of enemies and take over Zin towers.
Everything mentioned above can be used to get money, called Cache in the game, which can be used for upgrades, new weapons and more.
Also making the game more enjoyable is the introduction of superpowers, because what Saint is complete without a super jump or throwing a fireball. The virtual world actually is the perfect opportunity to try this out, and the powers come off great, reminding players of something they would find in inFAMOUS or Crackdown.
It should be noted that you can’t miss powers, either. The powers are unlocked as you progress through the story, although you can unlock more abilities or enhancements for each skill.
Powers aren’t the only thing used in the world to cause chaos, though. A great variety of weapons can be checked out and used as well. This ranges from a dubstep gun, a gun that shoots black holes, abducting people or items and more. Plus, almost everything you can use can be upgraded and made even more deadly and entertaining.
Outside of just running around the world, the game also gives you plenty of challenges to take on. The challenges are actually worthwhile this time, though. Instead of just giving XP or cache, some challenges will give weapon skins, new weapons, enhanced abilities and more.
The game also brings in a ton of customization options like the previous game. Sure, you can make a crazy character like normal (and even give him a Nolan North voice if you want), but it’s some of the character costumes that are great. The game borrows from Minecraft, Star Wars and more without a care and it’s awesome to run around with some of these suits.
Like in past titles in the series, some of the best moments are with a friend. Floating around the city and causing whatever havoc you want makes the game just that much better, along with the occasional insanity from playing a Death Tag co-op challenge.
That’s not to say the game is flawless. There are a few minor annoyances, such as the new Warden enemy. The Warden has a shield that has to be taken down by using a superpower before damaging them. In addition, they have the super jump ability as well and love to constantly bounce around.
I also got stuck in a few corners while jumping around and landing in the wrong spot. Thankfully, I was able to free myself by mashing the melee button.
The graphics in virtual Steelport actually look better than the original Steelport. The buildings shimmer and blue light flickers across all the surfaces when you find a data packet used for upgrading powers, and the water is a red and black ripple across the world. Signs showing how the Saints have no power and of the Zin rule litter the land, giving it even more of a unique feel.
The soundtrack is also a great job again by the team. The radio can be played in or out of a vehicle, and the music has some great tracks on it, including Stan Bush’s “The Touch.” Volition also does a great job using the music in set pieces as the story moves along also.
- Gameplay is still a blast.
- Plenty to do and plenty of weapons to use that it doesn’t get stale.
- Game gets even better with a partner.
- New enemy type can be annoying.
- Sometimes fast can get too fast.
Overall Saints Row 4 is definitely the top in the series, and probably one of the best sandbox titles out there right now. Sure, it may be over the top, but Volition knows that and plays up to it every chance they get. Saints Row 4 is one of the best sandbox titles out there and knows how to keep gamers coming back for more.
Final Score: 4.7 out of 5