GAME NAME: Saints Row IV
DEVELOPER(S): Volition, Inc
PUBLISHER(S): Deep Silver
PLATFORM(S): PC, PS3, Xbox 360
GENRE(S): Action-Adventure, Open World
RELEASE DATE(S): August 23rd, 2013
It’s late, and we’re sorry about that, as you may have learnt from Garth’s latest “Monday Morning Moan”, getting a review copy isn’t always within our control. With that said, and in spite of GTA V having been released to relative fanfare (when I say fanfare, I actually mean people are going ape sh… ahem… they’re loving it), I’m here to say there is certainly a place for both games.
The best way to imagine Saints Row IV (SR IV) is to imagine Saints Row the Third (SR 3) and Radical Entertainment’s Prototype meeting one night at a bar; they start dating; get married; and have a baby. To put it plainly, it’s equal parts super powers and the sort of extravagant and exaggerated gangster, celebrity-esque lifestyle you’ve come to expect from the Saints, all rolled and amalgamated into one enjoyable, open world experience. Of course, there have been a few tradeoffs made in order to make the ability to outrun any car and leap up any building viable in SR IV. So expect many of the most prevalent mechanics of SR 3 to be removed or rendered moot. But that hardly matters when you have the means to tango with Superman, and potentially even give him a right good hiding, if need be.
As such, expect cars and aircraft to be largely irrelevant in terms of required transportation. Don’t get me wrong, you can still use them, and might even want to considering some of the more exotic (or should I say extraterrestrial) toys SR IV introduces this time around. But you’ll hardly want to when a merry gait will easily outpace any vehicle. To address that, the developers give you practically instant access to every vehicle from the get go, just in case you wanted to have a little fun with them. All you need do is find the desired model, hijack it, as any decent Saint would, and save it to your database. Then all it takes is a simple phone call and said mode of transport is instantly available to you.
Although, while there are relatively few prerequisite missions or activities you need to partake in before unlocking a particular vehicle, that is not entirely true of weapons… sort of. Much of SR IV’s weapons, or at least those capable of excessive force, the ones that might most interest you, require you to complete tasks and other varied feats of absurdity before unlocking them. Though it won’t take you long as there is very little capable of standing in your way. In fact, the most challenging aspect of most missions is locating them. Once you’ve started, there is very little that can stand against you and so it’s up to you to deal with these formalities in a most creative of manners.
So what’s my point? Why am I prattling on about vehicles, weapons and super powers when there is more to a game? Well this is sort of SR IV’s kick, its clutch card. Among the many prominent open world games, thanks to inhibiting factors like the speed at which you can travel, the relatively few resources you begin with, and so on, SR IV has the niche honour of being a sandbox, a playground designed for one purpose, fun. In that role, it excels. It is immensely pleasurable, and I say that in the kinkiest way possible, to be able to cause monumental ruckus among the streets of Steelport City by using a floppy tentacle-like club, or as I like to call it, the innuendo bat, to launch police into the air. And of course, once there is sufficient numbers of cops and aliens diverging on your position, annoyed they didn’t get tentacle slapped I imagine, you freeze and smash the lot of them into oblivion. Or perhaps you prefer to destroy them with the dubstep gun, it’s your choice; their choices are to die or run.
Once you understand that, it’s easy to see where SR IV fits in. Sure, the story and quests give a strong sense of drive, or at the very least, the passion to do more harm, but it’s the sandbox nature of the game that will keep you going.
So what about the game’s narrative? Well it has one if that’s what you’re asking. That’s not to say it’s by any means bad, it’s just hard not to spoil without telling you more than you already know. Aliens have invaded Earth and captured the president, that’s you, as well as the rest of the Saints, and along with much of Earth’s populace, you’re trapped inside a virtual reality simulation, one you want to escape. The alien warlord Zinyak serves as the direct antagonist and does a good enough job to keep you sufficiently annoyed with him and wanting to kick his ass. And it’s that plot, as well as the odd twist or two, which will keep you motivated throughout. That’s if being able to curb stomp cars with a giant mech isn’t sufficient motivation already.