The saints are back and are somehow more over-the-top than last time. In “Saints Row IV,” the saints aren’t just gangsters – they are running the country.
The head of the saints is now president of the United States, and he and his friends have to keep the country safe from an invading alien force. The world of “Saints Row IV” is essentially the same as “Saints Row: The Third,” but now all of the characters have super powers. They don’t really have super powers – the saints have been transported to a computer simulation by the aliens, and the wacky antics of the game are part of a computer program. The overall goal of the game is to complete the simulation so you can free the human race from the mind control of the invading aliens.
Similar to “Crackdown,” you collect orbs that are scattered around the city that upgrade your abilities. The new super abilities make the world feel smaller because you can run super fast and leap over buildings, and after some upgrades, you can fly from one end of the map to the other. “Saints Row IV” has the same weapons upgrade abilities as “The Third;” however, with all the cool super powers, who needs guns? You can throw ice and fireballs and even throw cars with your mind. Having these abilities does create some issues – in a open world city game like “Grand Theft Auto,” there is no need to use a vehicle ever, and the amount of power you have makes pretty much every mission way too easy. It reminds me of playing “GTA” with all the cheats and God Mode activated; it’s fun for a bit, but it gets boring fast. The guns that are in the game are really silly. My favorites were the Inflate-O-Ray, the Dubstep Gun, and Blackhole Launcher, just to name a few.
The comedy in this game is a result of it being a computer simulation. There are silly parodies of series like “The Matrix,” “Mass Effect,” “They Live,” and much more. This game feels like one big spoof and doesn’t have much of a story of its own. The computer simulation environment sometimes acts up with glitches and distorted graphics, and I am not totally sure some of the issues are on purpose. There are some really weird graphic hiccups from time to time that seem too big to be intentional. Another really interesting thing to point out is how jarring it can be move from the real world to the computer simulation world. When you get back to the main story mode missions, you have no super powers and the game feels very slow; the withdrawal symptoms can feel very harsh. After you lose your powers, it makes the game feel kind of boring. No more flying, no more super speed – it’s a hard thing to deal with.
Just like its predecessor, “Saints Row IV” offers many different side activities, such as foot races, destruction derbies, mayhem missions, and much more. Most of them feel like retreads of the last game, but with the added addition of super powers, they can still feel interesting. The map is very similar to the last game; it’s a good thing there is such a variety of mission types. From rescue missions to 1960s sitcom worlds, there is something fun to do around every corner. One my favorite activities was returning to your base and chatting with your crew “Mass Effect” style; you can even have romantic relationships with other members of the group.
The two player co-op is back and enhanced with the super powers; it’s really entertaining seeing the level of destruction and high jinks you can get into with a friend. There are also more multiplayer activities, such as deathmatch, which can be a load of fun. My favorite thing from the last game is back, too – the extensive character creator. You can make the wackiest looking characters, and that in itself is good for a laugh.
Overall, “Saints Row IV” is mostly the same game from “Third,” but with the addition of over-the-top super powers. The powers are fun for a while, but because they are so powerful, they take away from how long you are going to want to play the game. If you have never played a “Saints Row” game, I suggest playing the previous one, but if you are fan of the series, you should check it out because it’s more over-the-top than ever, even though that may be hard to believe.
-Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at [email protected]