Saints Row has always been a series that pushes the boundaries on what an open world can be since debuting on the Xbox 360 in 2006. What started as a player driven gangster’s dream has slowly turned into a caricature of most open world games. Since being liquidated, publisher THQ has sold off many of its properties including Saints Row. Developer Volition now releases the series under publisher Deep Silver, but is facing a lot of controversy, criticism, and bugs; the good news is that Saints Row 4 is the best addition to the series yet, but I think it’s important to keep in mind that Saints Row 4 was originally DLC for The Third.
The story starts off on a covert, joint mission between the Third Street Saints and MI6 that results in the players outlandish presidency and ultimate capture by alien overlords – the Zin. Led by Zinyak (a cold and calculating conqueror of worlds), the Zin capture the Saints as well as most of Earth and place their prisoners in a Matrix like simulation that places the prisoner in a world dictated by their biggest fear. The campaign and side quests took me about 20 hours to finish collectively, with only a handful of collectables left when I last ventured through the city of Steelport.
The game once again thrusts the player into a character of their own design, mine being the big-haired, muscular, spitting image of one super-powered Goku with the voice of Nolan North. While the character customization returns, much is copy and pasted from SR3 including outfits, the map (for the most part), cars & driving, shooting, etc. The good news is that the superpowers really make the game an enjoyable step up from the previous entry. Running faster than speeding bullets and leaping buildings in a single bound hasn’t been reserved for Superman in this playground. The game features 8 powers to unlock and upgrade in all which can be done using the usual phone-like pause menu after collecting enough “cache” in the simulation. These powers replace grenades, but can be taken away various times in the game due to exiting the simulation or losing them in some situations.
The game looks good, not great, but good enough for a game these days. The graphics fall victim to some low-res textures, pop-ups, and screen tearing. I also had various bugs such as character’s voices being muted and multiple infinite loads and complete crashes which plagued about my last half of the game.
The voice acting and the soundtrack are more notable in this entry. VO is very well done for such a wide variety of voices to choose from and really adds to the character customization. While many of the voices made appearances in the last game, it’s more of a quality over quantity issue by now. Troy Baker and Nolan North do a good job as puckish rogues who don’t take kindly to authority figures. The soundtrack is all over the place with everything from rap to Paula Abdul, the Safety Dance to dubstep, and everything in between. It was deeply satisfying to hear epic movements on the classical station as I leaped from rooftop to rooftop around the city, swooping down on alien foes.
In the end, I found SR4 to be $30 worth of SR3 and $30 worth of a new game. If you own The Third, you own half of SR4. I had an iffy feeling after hearing Volition’s DLC statements awhile back when the game had just been revealed. With hope, Volition will release some really awesome DLC that will eventually be part of a complete edition at a lower cost. Until then, the game is by no means bad, but it could have used a little more polishing to really earn its place on my shelf.
Written by Tyler Peeples