Let me start off by saying that Saints Row IV is no ordinary game. Over the past week that I’ve been playing it, I have found it to be one of those titles that you just cannot put down. It felt as if I had been absorbed into the simulation myself, and oh what a rollercoaster of a ride it was. I was drawn in by its excellent scripted humour and the outlandish and outright stupidity of events from the off. Being a Saints Row newbie I was going in with this one blind, having thought it was about time I picked a title up. And I have not a single regret; it’s definitely a game worthy of purchasing. Why you ask? Read on!
You play as the President of the United States, having come to power after the Saints have basically taken over the world. Saints Row IV follows about five years from The Third, where you have come to power to rule America with other Saint’s being your key cabinet members. Just before you’re about to make a speech to calm down the basses of a previous speech (which was taken once again out of context), bam! You’re attacked in what is basically an Independence Day like scenario. Basically, everything goes tits up and you end up being sucked into a game simulation controlled by Zinyak, the ruler of the alien species attacking Earth, who are set on its destruction. From there on it’s “welcome to Steelport baby!”. To start with, as far as storylines go, if you’re looking for a systematic one, you came to the wrong city. Saints Row will throw you about from one thing to the next, without a second thought. Yes, there is a story which does follow a plot (kind of), but does it all really make sense? Not in the slightest. One moment you’re fighting off the Zin with Dubstep, then the next you’re in a retro side scroller arcade game. If you came here for a game where “f**k logic”, is your attitude in life, then climb aboard! As you progress through the game, you will find that the Volition have done some fantastic character modelling. The Pres (you), is genuinely funny and is full of witty banter, his one liners had me laughing out loud, for sure. Not to mention obtaining super powers left right and centre. Combine this with some great inter character relations, and some hilarious romance (or even bromance) scenes and you’ve already got one messed up mix. I’m only surprised that after so much has been taken from The Matrix, I didn’t see any ‘slow time’ or the ability to dodge bullets … the shock!
What I love about the game is having a full city at your disposal and that as you progress your powers enhance with you. However, this isn’t done in your normal fashion, oh no. It starts off by giving you you’re two most used super powers. Super Sprint, and Super Jump, from the bat. No messing about. Saints rewards you simply by just playing for an hour. You will also quickly find that (and to the annoyance of some), abilities will be unlocked before you fully get a chance to play with the previous ones. But hey, that’s not exactly a bad thing. Better that than waiting till the end of the game before they drown you with all the final upgrades, as is normal. Each of the powers gradually max out to levels of over the top madness (especially when you learn the ‘nuke damage’ with Death from Above). In which all of them can be upgraded by collecting clusters. These are easily found throughout the city. Literally, it’s impossible not to collect them. They’re freaking everywhere! One of the things that makes Saints Row IV what it is, is that there are no restrictions and no annoying realism. You might think with all this crazyness, game play would have to have some sort of normality … well Violition says “f**k that homie”. It laughs in the face of balance. It takes your standard rocket launcher, and hands you a black hole gun instead. It’s not just the weapons that are lethal either, super sprinting into a large group of Zin and unleashing some bone crunchingly cool take downs (that would make even Stone Cold Steve Austin jealous) is worthy of a smile every time. All the weapons in the game can be upgraded too, but not in any normal fashion. Saints Row gives you the chance to upgrade immediately, and all at a very affordable in-game price. Think you have to be a certain level for a weapon skin? Wrong. Want all of them from the off? Heck yeah! Want them for free? Done! That’s how Volition rolls.
The streets are also full of all sorts of vehicles, ranging from your old bangers to your race cars. Even though you may not use any of them (and I doubt you will), nothing stops you getting in one. It’s your world (well actually Zinyak’s, but you get the point) to do as you please, get a sports car, mod it up, race around town. Bored of that? Why not fly around in an attack helicopter and blow shit up for the sake of it! Nothing will stop you if that’s what you want to do, only more aliens for your ammo to be used on. There is plenty of game play hours to be had too, varying from the main story missions to side quests to just general exploring to find collectibles or cause mayhem. All will quickly rack up those game play hours. The side quests available are in true Saints style and vary from annihilating waves of enemies, to a Skate’s’ hall of meat’ like mini game and the return of destroy as much as you see for points – all in the name of destruction. There is the ability to just summon a vehicle of your choice that you have captured before through a simple phone call, which I thought was a nice touch. Combine this with the use of some of the superpowers on hand, and it makes you feel like you want to record every single enemy encounter to just watch over again, and admire how freaking badass you looked. Not to mention some truly in-depth character customisation. These can be changed whenever you fancy, through plastic surgery as well as buying all sorts of outlandish or stylish apparel to dress your character up in. Or, if you fancy, why not stroll around butt naked?
There are few games where the actual in-game music plays such a vital role to the atmospherics of a sandbox, it’s not there to lull you into suspense in a horror game, it’s not to make you feel like you’re in an epic war. Saints Row has a variety of tracks that will either make you want to go on a rampage, or simply drive about singing with a friend. There is also no experience more enjoyable than kicking alien ass with a friend hearing “The boys are back in town” blaring through your TV speakers. Amidst this entire win of a game, there are also so many references to other games and films, with The Matrix being the most featured (pretty much what the game seemed to be based on), but also others such as MGS and Tron gimmicks that will make you smile form ear to ear. There is just one thing I didn’t like, (which might have just been my Xbox), however I found the game to have a good few glitches. Which varied from freezing in the game, to when jumping I ended up teleporting out to sea when I was in the middle of the city. But for such a good game, this can be easily overlooked. This review hasn’t even covered the half of it! So, if you have a desire for destruction, a game with a genius sound track and full on hilarious antics. Why haven’t you bought it yet?!