Developer: Volition Inc.
Release Date: 8/20/2013
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Saints Row has done a good job being the best GTA clone ever made. Each game added more ridiculous gameplay and a completely humorous story. Despite that, Saints Row does a very good job at entertaining us with interesting ideas. Saints Row IV is the zaniest of them all with super powers, alien invasions, and computer simulations. The Saints are now in control of the United States thanks to the main hero being the President. Various Saints characters fill other roles like Kinsie being Press Secretary and Keith David being Vice President. An alien ruler named Zenyak bursts in and starts destroying the White House and the planet. You get captured and are thrown into a computer simulation of Steelport and need to escape. You start by rescuing your friends and devising a plan to stop Zenyak.
The main story brings you through some interesting gameplay choices like previous games. Av Tron like level, a 2D brawler, mounted gun and RPG on-rails missions, and various others. It’s a lot of fun but really short. The game is full of too much filler which is repetitive side quests after you rescue each homie. Instead of going around and doing the side missions on your own they are dealt out in quests so you actually end up doing them all. Each character needs you to do three sets of these monotonous side quests, after about the 15th time I couldn’t take it anymore. Thankfully the unique Loyalty quests are interesting. At least you get cool unlocks for doing these like suits, weapons, powers, and vehicles. Besides main and side quests there’s nothing else to do besides multiplayer.
The entire game is completely changed thanks to these superpowers. To make it believable you are in a computer simulation, and the times when you are out, you don’t have them. You can run at lightning fast speeds, jump 30 stories, use telekinesis, earthquake stomp, freeze blast, and various other superpowers. They are awesome and surprisingly work well in the game. You feel so powerful and the need for driving around in cars becomes pointless because you can run 10x faster than driving. To unlock more powers you need to collect special power-ups which are scattered everywhere, but the same upgrades via money are the same. Honestly, not much has changed from The Third besides the powers and the story. The guns are nearly the same except the alien weapons are exact copies of regular weapons — the only difference is that they overheat. There are a few interesting weapons like the Dubstep gun which shoots deadly Wub Wubs at enemies. The Alien RPG is awesome and there’s a tentacle bat. Not much else in the weapons department though. There are a few new alien vehicles, but nothing so new and amazing that you will forget the similarities from the last game.
The lack of changes even goes into customization and the graphics. The game uses the exact same engine of The Third and there are hardly any new clothes or items to customize your characters with. This really feels like Saints Row 3.5 rather than 4. The game looks fairly dated with some ugly textures and jerky animations seen in previous games. At least there are all new mini-games which kind of helps a bit. There are various mini-games ranging from on foot races, giant tower climbing stretches, various other races, and a few games that revolve around your powers. After a few tries at each, you will be pretty bored with them like previous games. The fact that all the side quests push you through these makes it a bore fest after so long.
There’s just an overall lack of uniquity and originality in Saints Row IV. It tries to use the same tricks as the past three games and you soon realize they don’t work anymore. The dialog isn’t as catchy or funny, the missions (even the main ones) can get really repetitive in between the occasional unique and exciting mission. There are many bugs and glitches in the game as well as severe difficulty spikes which can be very frustrating. There’s a lack of enemy variety and the whole game at the end just feels very repetitive and redundant. Honestly, Saints Row needs another reboot or the series may fall by the wayside.
That’s not to say the game isn’t worth playing. After some side quests, you will blow through the main missions and probably be done with the game. This one is more of a rental than a purchase. Newcomers may find a bit more replay value, but Saints veterans will put 20-30 hours in the game and call it quits. I love the superpowers and the whole alien invasion thing, but the lack of originality and new ideas kind of makes the series take a couple of steps back. Even the lack of new content hurts it more, this really just feels like a giant expansion of The Third rather than a true sequel.