Batshit crazy-pants insanity!
Those were the words that left my mouth each time someone asked me what Saints Row IV was like. And there's no other way to really put it, whether it's in modern-day vernacular or Renaissance English. The latest in Volition's popular series has pushed the realms of Steelport into a wave of virtually delicious chaos that sends off screams of looniness into the thickness of space.
**WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**
The game takes place five years after the events of Saints Row The Third, where your character doesn't just run Steelport, but the entire country as the nation's Commander-In-Chief. Before you are about to deliver an important press conference, aliens attack the White House. Lead by Emperor Zinyak, you and the rest of the Saints are separated into a virtual version of Steelport, where everything's made up and the points do matter (especially when leveling up). After Zinyak destroys what little humanity is left in the Earth it is up to you and the rest of your crew to take him and his alien cronies down and for the count.
After your first mission (which contains enough Aerosmith to make Ben Affleck weep) you are then pushed to customize your character to your liking. The good new for Saints Row The Third owners is that you can import your character from the previous game into the new one, thereby saving you an hour of having to customize yourself to the tiniest detail. You have a few choices for voices, but let's be honest: we all want the Nolan North, right?
Soon you are relinked with Kinzie, who helps you out with not only escaping from the 1950s sitcom realm you've been dropped in, but also new powers that can help you in battle and missions. Reuniting with your crew also opens up new and fun missions, all with their own unique twists that works well with their respective characters, from Matt Miller's Nyte Blayde-inspired battles to Johnny Gat's old-school mayhem events. And don't worry, folks: Professor Genki has returned in all of his fuzzy glory!
Weapons are a wonderful cornucopia of straight-edged guns and bludgeoning tools that will put a smile on your face. Dubstep guns, tentacle bats, disintegrators, black hole-makers, inflaters, and more laser guns than your cat can shake its paw at. (And yes, the incredibly necessary dildo bat is there, too, so you can rest easily now.) Of course this doesn't even cover the juiciest part of the game: the superpowers.
As you progress through Saints Row IV you'll gain new and amazing abilities that will let you go as cuckoo-crazy as you'd like in the virtual Steelport. From super speed and telekinetic throwing powers to the ability to super stomp and shoot fire and ice there is just about every single superpower that you can think of in this game. Even better: by completing specific missions your fellow Saints will gain them, too.
Storyline-wise Saints Row IV is so out there that it doesn't even remotely resemble what the first Saints Row was all about. However what makes it fit so well is that some missions will have you revisit specific parts in the Saints' lives, from the time you saved Ben King to having Johnny Gat try to save Aisha from being decapitated. It's these events that make you remember why the Saints have become what they are today, tossing away the serious aspects in favor of just having fun.
And that's what this game gives its players best: FUN. These past couple years developers and publishers have been so focused on creating experiences, all while tossing away any sort of smile-inducing mechanics that just about any game from past generation was able to deliver. What Saints Row IV is, however, is a game for gamers of all shapes, sizes, genders, races, religions, sexual preferences, and everything else under the sun. Anyone (seventeen and older, that is) can pick it up, and find even just one thing about it that they will love. Odds are, though, they will love a whole mess of what it delivers.
What Saints Row IV also delivers well is its comedy. From the sing-alongs and the crotch-bashings to the parodies of games of young and old and the, um, romances there are so many jokes and gags that's filled in this game that I was worried my Xbox would explode with the giggles. It's the type of humor where if one joke doesn't work for you, the next one probably will. The straight-up goofiness Saints Row IV showcases is some of this year's best in the gaming realm this year, especially if you play with the Nolan North voice (who sounds like he's still in Deadpool mode).
Of course not everything about Saints Row IV can be a winner, and sadly it has some graphical faults. On many occasions I noticed a huge frame drop when there were too many aliens and cops trying to shoot you, making some of the missions a bit more difficult to take full control of. Character models would appear and disappear without any rhyme or reason, and buildings would still be rendering even when up close to them. (The latter one, however, may be intentional, as Steelport is set up in a simulation.) I've also had some game crashes happen during some of the Professor Genki missions, which made it a bit of a pain to have to redo over again. Odds are a patch will fix these issues, but for now these hinderances can be quite the nuisance.
Despite these issues, it never took away from the overall fun I was having playing Saints Row IV. While I wish I could replay missions again so I can see all the funny parts again there are plenty of newer missions that are filled with just as many memorable moments. Plus with the Season Pass you can expect more silliness to come your way during the game's lifespan.
- The funniest game of the year
- Loads of quests, weapons, gadgets
- Nearly endless supply of fun around every corner
- Some weird graphical glitches
- Can't replay missions
- No Burt Reynolds. Le sigh.
Saints Row IV wants you to have a good time, and it lets you by giving players one insane mission after another. Its light years away from what Volition probably had in mind when first creating this series, but all the better for it. While Rockstar Games may be taking the realistic route for its Grand Theft Auto series, we can be glad that Saints Row will be there to give us a worthy and funny bone-tickling escape from the mundane reality of our lives. I don't know what Volition has planned for the Saints' future, but if this is the direction they're going I cannot wait to see what happens next.
FINAL GRADE: 8.7 (out of ten)
Xbox 360 review copy provided by Deep Silver
If you are in need of a second opinion, check out Pandalicious's review of Saints Row IV on the ElectricSistaHood EGMNOW Program Partner Page!