Saints Row 4 ReviewPC
key review info
- Game: Saints Row 4
- Platform: PC
- Gamepad support: Yes
- Reviewed on:
- Show system requirements
The Saints Row franchise started out life pretty much as a clone of Grand Theft Auto, putting players in the shoes of a street gang leader and tasking them with eliminating opposition and becoming the most feared and respected criminal in Stillwater.
Future installments, however, went into a completely different direction in terms of story and tone, as developer Volition wanted to share just the basic mechanics with Rockstar's GTA, like the open world or the focus on crime. Besides that, the emphasis was more on fun than on gritty realism.
With Saints Row 3, the studio went all out and it seemed like there was nowhere to go for the Third Street Saints gang, which became a multimedia empire.
Saints Row 4, however, wants to show that there is a new direction to take, giving players access to super powers, turning them into the President of the United States, and tasking them with stopping an alien invasion from inside a Matrix-like simulator.
Does it deliver the same fun-filled experience or have things gone too far? Let's find out.
Saints Row 4 kicks off with a covert mission in which the player, alongside his loyal Saints, Pierce and Shaundi, wants to take down an international terrorist. By preventing him from nuking Washington DC, the player manages to earn a lot of good faith and eventually becomes the President of the United States of America, hiring all his former allies and buddies into key positions, from Keith David as Vice President, to Ben King as Chief of Staff.
Sadly, your rule as President is cut short after just a few minutes, as the aliens commanded by a leader called Zinyak attack Earth and zap almost everyone into a simulated environment much like the Matrix.
Being the puckish rogue that you are, you manage to sort of escape the simulation and, with the help of Kinzie Kensington, you now wander around the simulation, freeing up your own allies and causing lots of problems for Zinyak.
While the story likes to really parody other games and to take shots at many other tropes, it's actually quite good and manages to consistently make throwbacks to previous games, thereby rewarding veterans, and stays entertaining for those who aren't that familiar with the Saints Row universe.
Of course, there are a few twists that can be seen coming from a mile away, but their delivery is pretty good and there's always some sort of hilarious explanation for various "surprises."
As far as gameplay is concerned, Saints Row 4 can be played much like Saints Row 3, as not a lot has changed in terms of core mechanics, like exploration, driving, or shooting, but many other new mechanics have been added to make the game stand out.
Of course, first and foremost are the super powers as, thanks to the simulation, the President can use Super Sprint to run around faster than any vehicle, Super Jump to climb all the buildings, as well as shoot ice or fire blasts, telekinesis, and much more. Each of these powers can be augmented by finding shards in the game world and by fulfilling side quests offered by allies.
Lots of brand new weapons have also been added, including a lot of crazy alien guns that shoot bullets which ricochet from target to target, or the already infamous Dubstep gun that shoots audio waves which cause cars to jump up and down and enemies to dance.
Side activities are also much more varied as, while things like Mayhem or Insurance Fraud return, lots of other challenges, mostly relating to the super powers of the player, are also present, including special fight clubs or challenges to climb on top of alien towers.
As always, there's also a city domination mechanic, as players need to wrestle control of the simulated Steelport from Zinyak's goons by taking over towers and by hacking into stores.
In terms of enemies, there are quite a few varieties, including regular gang members, as here there are plenty of returning factions, like the Vice Kings from Saints Row 1 or the Ronin from 2. There are also plenty of alien varieties, from regular grunts, to murderbots, or giant guardians that each have different new super powers, which can be absorbed by the player after defeating them.
Speaking of the player, once again there is a complex character creator feature that lets users model many different aspects and even choose from seven different voices, including one by famous actor Nolan North.
As with previous games, Saints Row 4 supports a cooperative playthrough of the whole game with a friend. While only a single main character will be shown during cut scenes, you can wreak all sorts of havoc in the virtual Steelport.
There are also activities that are only available in the cooperative mode, which is a bit of bad news for those who don't have any friends with whom to try them out.
While there may be a few problems in terms of lag when one player has a powerful computer and the other has a weaker one, the cooperative experience as a whole is quite good.
Visuals and Sound
In terms of graphics, Saints Row 4 looks a bit better than Saints Row 3 on the PC, although what's more important is the rock-solid framerate that doesn't even flinch when the player is engaged in hectic firefights, deploys different powers, or just zips around the city using super spring and super jumps.
The soundtrack is quite good, and once again there is a huge number of radios inside the game, each with different music genres. Voice acting is top-notch, with props going to all the different voice actors of the main character. This is a game where you should definitely go to the Image as Designed shop and change your gender or at least your voice from time to time.
Saints Row 4 is one of the most fun open world games in years in terms of story and characters. While you can play it just like the third title, by driving around and shooting, the super powers make it even more enjoyable, much more amusing, and quite refreshing as opposed to other open world titles.
While there may be a few glitches from time to time and the multiplayer may experience a bit of lag, Saints Row 4 is still an impressive game that offers a huge amount of content.