Saints Row 4 Review – Something’s Different in Steelport…

8.5 Overall Score
Gameplay: 9/10
Story: 7/10
Replayability: 8/10

Loads of fun activities, great co-op, addictive super powers

Same location as Saints Row 3, activities get repetitive, lag

From humble beginnings as a lowly gangster, the main character of Saints Row has usurped evil corporations and taken over entire cities. Now, in Saints Row 4, he (or she, if you prefer) has become perhaps the most powerful person in the world –the President of the United States. This well-deserved role doesn’t last long for our hero, though. Just as he’s about to give a speech in the Oval Office, aliens invade the planet and start abducting folks. The President fights back, but he, too, is warped into a virtual-reality version of the city of Steelport. It’s the player’s job to rescue his abducted friends, disrupt the simulation, and fight back against the alien leader, an evil Shakespeare-quoting fellow name Zinyak.

If you played Saints Row 3, you’ll quickly realize that the simulated Steelport looks a lot like its real-life version in the previous game. That’s because, for the most part, it’s the exact same city. When you’ve spent dozens of hours roaming saints row 4 review charactersSteelport already, you may not be too keen on doing it all over again in Saints Row 4. The new additions to the game, though, make retreading this ground very worth it.

Super powers? Aw, yeah!

Soon after you’re dropped into the simulation, you’re gifted with super-jumping and super-sprinting abilities. With these, you can run faster than most cars and leap over buildings in a single bound. You’re also blessed with the ability to freeze groups of enemies. Later in the game, you’ll get more powers, such as the telekinesis power that lets you pick up vehicles and objects, as well as the fiery inferno ability. I’m sure you can guess what that’s for. All of your abilities can be leveled up by collecting glowing blue data clusters that are scattered throughout the simulation. Once you’ve upgraded your character sufficiently, he’ll be able to glide in the air, run up the sides of buildings, and throw tanks at foes with his mind. Just as in Saints Row 3, you can also upgrade basic parameters, such as health, damage, abilities and combat skills.

You’ll need all the help you can get against the Zin, a group of witless aliens that tend to hunt you in packs. They’re packing alien laser weapons, of course, and these can burn holes through you in the blink of an eye. The aliens can masquerade as regular police officers or civilians, and it’s always a little surprising when that harmless old granny on the corner starts blasting you with a laser rifle. As you disrupt the simulation, humans begin to take on a warped form. Some of them have humungous eyes or twisted limbs. When you see some of them, you might think it’s actually a glitch in the game.

saints row 4 steelportThe game’s packed to the brim with activities, also called “diversions.” On every corner, you’ll find a minigame of some sort. My personal favorite diversion, Fraud, is back in this game. In Fraud, you’ll fling your character into traffic to rack up the most possible insurance money before time runs out. In other diversions, you might fight off waves of aliens, destroy as much as you can with a tank or rocket launcher, perform a platforming challenge or steal and deliver a vehicle. Vehicles you’ve stolen in a diversion are added to your garage so you can drive them later. To gain access to stores, which sell clothes and accessories, you’ll need to complete a hacking minigame. This game reminds one very much of the hacking minigame in the first Bioshock game. It’s not hard to figure out, but enemies can attack you while you’re hacking. This does damage to you and deducts time from the clock. The only way to stop the damage is to cancel the minigame, fight off the attackers, and then start the hacking all over again. This gets annoying — your character should not take damage while staring at a hacking screen.

One new diversion is Professor Genki’s Mind Over Murder challenge. In it, you’ll use telekinesis to grab people, vehicles or floating Genki heads, and then toss them through the correct colored hoops. It’s like basketball, but more fun. The added challenge comes from aliens, usually dressed in animal costumes, who blast you with bullets while you’re trying to aim your throw. Another very fun challenge is the Blazin’ race. In this one, you super-sprint in a race to the finish line. You’ll dodge firewalls (actual walls of fire) and leap over buildings to hit checkpoints. This is another favorite of mine that never gets boring. If you’re into multiplayer, you’ll also find some co-op only challenges to enjoy with friends.

All of these diversions are fun, but there are literally dozens of them. Once you’ve done a few diversions, all the others are pretty much the same. This can get old, but it’s the best way to level up and make money.

Take down the Zin, one alien at a time

Saints Row has always been a goofy, satirical series, and that’s never been more obvious than it has here in Saints Row 4. From the very beginning, you’ll see humorous nods to modern war video games like Call of Duty and movies such as Armageddon. The humor comes at the perfect time, and it’s really quite refreshing. It’s nice to see a game that just doesn’t take itself–or anything else–too seriously. Just like in the popular space RPG, Mass Effect, you can romance your teammates. What happens when you do is unexpectedly hilarious. Let’s just say that it really reinforces the “M” rating, so it’s clear this game is not for kids. The vulgarity of Saints Row 4 could be a problem if you’re not into perverted humor and childish jokes. But even if you think you’ll be offended, I recommend trying the game with an open mind. See if it doesn’t surprise you.

Like all other Saints games, this one offers you a handful of radio stations from which to choose should you decide to travel by car. The music you select will keep playing when you’re on foot, which is a nice touch to make those cross-city trips more fun. You get an impressive selection of tunes from genres such as hard rock, alternative, easy listening, and even classical.

saints row 4 zinyakCharacter voices are well done and very convincing. For your own character, you can choose between three male or female voices that represent a range of personalities. The rest of the cast sounds great, and it’s their voices that lend the game’s humor a special touch. For example, Zinyak, the big bad alien leader, has a smooth, snobbish voice with a hint of British accent. This is even more amusing because the rest of the Zin grunt rather than talk.

Saints Row 4 looks respectable, but it probably won’t win any awards in the graphics department. While you’re roaming in Steelport, you’ll probably notice a lot of jagged edges, and the streets and buildings aren’t highly detailed. Then again, the graphics serve their purpose, so they don’t need to be Crysis-level gorgeous. It’s strange that despite the lower-quality graphics, the game lags pretty often. This is in single player mode, so it can’t be blamed on a fussy wireless connection. The lag usually happens when you collect a bunch of data clusters quickly, since the game saves after each one you get. The game also nearly froze for me while I was blasting stuff with a UFO’s laser. Eventually, the lag went away and the game puttered along like usual, so nothing was lost.

Buy, rent, or pass?

With the sheer amount of content this game packs, it’d be crazy not to buy it. Even after you’ve completed all the diversions, you can go back and try them again to shoot for a better score and more prizes. Add co-op play to the mix, and you’ll have even more to do. There’s even an achievement/trophy for spending 40 hours in the game, so you know there’s lots to keep you busy. You might be able to tackle the main storyline by renting the game, but enjoying the side missions and diversions require quite a bit more time. If you’re interested in seeing everything Saints Row 4 has to offer, it’s a definite buy.

Click here to buy Saints Row 4 on Amazon.com.

 

Game Info

GAME NAME: Saints Row 4

DEVELOPER(S): Volition

PUBLISHER(S): THQ

GENRE(S): Action, third-person shooter

RELEASE DATE(S): August 20, 2013

 

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