Saints Row IV is the latest game in the series, where you follow a gang known only as the Third Street Saints. Developed by Deep Silver and Volition, this was originally a bundled DLC pack to the previous game but now they have added more content by turning everything up to 11 and it has become a fully-fledged game.
You start Saints Row IV like every other Saints Row game where you are a faceless, voiceless hero doing whatever it takes to achieve something unachievable. This time, you fight your way through waves of soldiers to stop a nuke from hitting the USA, to which you become the President. Just as you get back to your presidential duties, aliens invade and put you into what seems to be a virtualised Steelport, complete with aliens and various pieces of technology that will aid in the mindless fun that you will be having in this game.
The character creation is great with adjusting everything that you could in previous games, including all facial features to voice options (there’s a Nolan North option) and various poses that you can pull out at different times. With all these tools at my disposal, I decided who better to run this country than the Joker from the Dark Knight. Nothing like a little chaos to brighten up everyone’s day.
The game’s great soundtrack is somewhat wasted because while driving a car is great, you unlock the ability to super sprint and super jump once you get about an hour into the game, and these options become much better transportation systems than a simple car. It seems that part of the Saints Row IV development team has forgotten about this as you can still upgrade and design cars like you would in Saints Row: The Third. Once I attained my super powers, I didn’t think of jumping back into a car except for certain story missions which forced you to.
The weirdest mechanic in the game is the use of your superpowers in missions. One of your companions, Kinzie, finds a way to break the simulation’s code to give you access to a host of new abilities, which makes Saints Row IV very reminiscent of the Crackdown games. Since Saints Row IV basically revolves around the superpower element, it seems a bit inconsistent when it comes to missions that actually disable these options for you, before re-enabling them by the end of the mission. The other inconsistency is the use of stamina to control your super powers. Sprinting drains your stamina, but jumping and wall running does not. This means that if you combine sprinting with jumping properly you can basically have unlimited stamina, which makes travelling across the city really quick and fun.
Outside of the story missions is where the most fun is to be had. Whether you are leaping tall buildings in a single bound or blowing a street apart with a tank, there is a lot of fun to be had in the simulation of Steelport. There are also a few activities that have been transferred over from Saints Row: The Third, but they have added a lot more to enjoy which incorporate your powers. There is also the addition of clusters which are broken data fragments scattered across Steelport. They are almost everywhere you look and are easily accessible, which usually meant that instead of heading to my next mission, I would spend the next hour jumping from building to building collecting these clusters. These clusters are used for upgrading your super powers so the more I had, the more powerful I became and I wanted to be the most badass superpowered president ever.
While undeniably fun, active superpowers have not overshadowed the trusty firearms. Saints Row IV has improved the weapon customisation feature. Each of the weapons have a special ability and lets players choose from different models. Some of these unique customisation models even include references to Star Wars and Star Trek. Not only can players annihilate citizens with a giant blue tentacle, but some of the new weapons that can be unlocked throughout the game include the ever popular dubstep gun that fires “wubs”, and a bounce rifle with ricocheting ammo. With such a diverse and creative armoury, Saints Row IV truly encourages players down the path of destruction and hilarity.
As to whether or not this release can be portrayed as a DLC pack rather than a fully-fledged game is a tough decision to make. While it is set in the same location with mostly the same whacky adventures, there are new abilities and weapons to use as well as a brand new story. It’s a blast to play, and the sense of humour is still going strong with reference humour everywhere and just the right level of ridiculousness. They have really turned the game up to 11 with the craziness and I enjoyed everything Saints Row IV had to offer.
* Just as a side note, I am unsure of how the Australian re-submission affected the story of the game but I didn’t seem to miss anything storywise, so I am kind of curious as to how it all ties in. Also the ending sequence is awesome and had me bopping my head the whole way through.