11 Feb

Saints Row IV

Filed under: PC Games No Responses


I don’t think this game is a fair representation of what it’s like to be President of the US.

I’d decided not to buy this since I’ve gotten bored of open-world games and there’s a limit to how much silliness I can take. But the unrelenting torrent of good reviews and reports of playing experiences wore me down. But who am I kidding, I was going to play this eventually given how much I’d liked the previous games. I’ll be brief here and just write about my impressions because everyone knows about this game already.

  • I know I’m not saying anything new here but the sheer amount of fun that you have in this game is just amazing. I mean, it starts with an attack against a terrorist group and conventional gunplay and I was all, ho-hum, nothing new here but let’s just go through the paces. And then the game puts you on a nuclear missile and starts playing Aerosmith’s I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing and it had won me over just like that. These moments of pure win are scattered throughout the game, especially in the missions involving crew members.

  • I also really liked how the game manages to mine its backstory for dramatic leverage. I mean, I wouldn’t expect the Saints Row franchise to actually do story well, it’s all about mindless havoc, right? And yet, it does. The Johnny Gat stuff is as stupid as it ever was, I’m not talking about that, but Shaundi’s character arc was shockingly good. Having the current version of her standing next to the old version was a surprisingly affecting moment for me.


I spent a lot of time in the air like this.
  • Maybe I’m reading too much into this and I know this was released in 2013 but playing this now after Gamergate, I can’t help but feel that they’re sort of apologizing for some of their early excesses. I remember being shocked and disturbed by how the Saints killed Jessica in Saints Row 2, and this game actually references that event and notes how terrible that was. Later, the crew actually manages to persuade the Boss that he really was an asshole and has since mellowed out some.
  • It’s also worth noting how inclusive Saints Row IV feels. It’s a game that doesn’t give a fuck what the protagonist’s gender and sexual orientation is, though I feel that the jokes and relationships make more sense if the protagonist is male. I enjoyed the joke that getting the achievement for each member of your crew requires romancing them, both the men and the women. There’s even an achievement for playing for at least two hours as a male character and two hours as a female character. As far as I can tell, there are no jokes that feel misogynistic or racist. It’s very strange that Saints Row has managed to get this balance right without being any less fun or entertaining before the Grand Theft Auto games.
  • As for gameplay, the combat in here doesn’t do much for me, even with all the crazy powers and alien weapons. What really got me going was the ability to run, jump and soar all over the city. I spent an inordinate amount of time doing nothing but go everywhere searching for collectibles. The feeling of freedom and power that the mobility powers give you is just exhilarating. One thing I really did not like is that you can’t collect everything at first since you need to wait for some powers to be unlocked before everything is available. That was annoying.


Wardens are basically mini-bosses. Odd that the game doesn’t allow you to fight them as often as you wish.
  • There are no big surprises in the optional activities, with the new additions being pretty much what you’d expect with powers added into the mix. They feel a bit too familiar now to be much fun but I still took the time to do all of them. The only one of them I really like are the super-powered beatdowns but there are only like three of them on the map. It’s also sad that some of the extra stuff you can do for your crew basically only send you out into the world to do these side activities. I really, really wanted more personalized missions.
  • Praises aside, there are a lot of questionable design and balance issues. I mean, the Dubstep Gun is totally awesome when fully upgraded and basically never runs out. The Bounce Rifle seems like it should be good but really sucks, upgrades or no. Turns out the best way to do the super-stomp mayhem activities is just to whizz around the city at super-speed when you’ve upgraded it when the tornado effect and forget about the stomping. Similarly for the telekinetic mayhem activities, you’re theoretically supposed to use the TK powers to toss giant balls around for massive destruction, but in practice it’s way easier to just use the TK power to hold the ball in front of you and then run around at super-speed to ram at everything in sight. Basically, as all comic nerds know, super-speed is the best power ever.

So yeah, like everyone says that this game is like a concentrated dose of pure fun. Yes, there’s not much of a challenge once you’ve upgraded all the weapons and powers and call in backup and do anything you want, but who cares, you play it your way. I also just loved all of the cultural references and not just the obvious ones either even if it is a better Matrix game than anything officially Matrix related.. A detail that just kills me having three seashells in the toilet on the ship. I like to say that enough is enough and there’s no way anyone is going to top this. But the ending just had to hint at time-travel, didn’t it?


Hey look this is like Footloose in Pleasantville!
Written on February 11 2015 and is filed under PC Games. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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