Gaming Nomad VS. Saints Row 4
I originally had no plans to review this game but a friend of mine got me a gift card for my birthday and instructed me to use said gift card to get Saints Row 4 and review it. So I guess I have to do it now.
I should first start by saying that I have only played the first Saints Row game and even then it was for only 20 minutes. The other two games never really grabbed my attention since I’m not exactly a big fan of GTA style gangster games. Unless it’s something like Sleeping Dogs with a duel identify system and set in a different culture. That said, Saints Row 4 definitely grabbed my attention with the fact that you play as the President of the United States, who has super powers, and fights aliens.
That might just be the best idea for a video game ever. For those who don’t know, Saints Row can be considered the rival franchise to the highly successful open world, crime series Grand Theft Auto. While it started out as an above average GTA clone, it gained its own identity with its crazy characters, over the top missions and story. For their fourth outing, the 3rd Street Saints take on their hardest task yet: Running the White House and saving world. But is this presidential drive-by worth being elected to your gaming console of choice?
The Third Street Saints have gone from low-level gang bangers, to crime bosses, to music icons, to super spies, and have finally landed in the White House with your character becoming the President of the United States. Now that’s what I call living the American dream. As your character walks around with your cabinet members, consisting of old gang members and Keith David, you head to a press meeting when suddenly the White House is attacked by aliens! Zinyak, the leader of the Zin Empire, has decided to abduct the brightest of the human race and kill the rest. One by one, members of your cabinet are snatched up by the aliens and after a failed attempt to beat up Zinyak, so is your character. You then find yourself in a simulated version of your old stomping grounds, Steelport, USA. You must save members of your crew and humanity for the ultimate test as the President and, more importantly, the leader of the Saints.
As you can tell, this story is crazy, over the top, and doesn’t take itself too seriously most of the time. This is a good thing because it makes story fun and hilarious to experience as this ridiculous tale unfolds. The game parodies many other video games and movies like Mass Effect, The Matrix, Metal Gear Solid, Splinter Cell, Armageddon, and countless others. You will catch witty references and funny parodies left and right throughout the game. The well written script is backed up by a great cast of characters. While I’m not familiar with them, most of the characters are given proper introductions.
You also have missions and side missions to develop characters more as well as audio logs to find that are hidden around the game for even more incite. Even with no experience with the past games, I got a good sense of who these people were and enjoyed them. Zinyak, the leader of the aliens, makes for an excellent and amusing villain being cultured and seems to know more about human culture and art than the President. The Zin would be worthy of being on my list of Top 10 Alien Invaders in Video Games.
Length wise, this game sits at a healthy 30+ hours but that depends if you do all the side missions and explore the simulated city.
It’s probably shorter if you just blast through all the main missions but if you’re doing that, you’re missing one of the main aspects of the game. However, what really sets Saints Row 4 apart from its previous titles is in the gameplay.
What stands out most about Saints Row 4 and what is a big game changer is the ability to get super powers. Within the first hour of the game you will get super jumping and super speed. You gain more and more throughout the game and they are extremely fun to use. It will make you feel like the entire Justice League combined. While these powers are very fun and become the core of the gameplay, they also make the game a little too easy. You become way too over powered way too quickly. You will almost always be able to get out of tight situations with no problem thanks to your powers.
Also the powers make certain parts of the game obsolete. Vehicles and driving is a major part of these GTA style games but in Saints Row 4, there is almost no reason to use a car again after you get your powers.
You run faster than any vehicle in the game so what’s the point? There is a lot of variation in vehicles and you can take them to shops to get completely customized but then again, what’s the point? Now I should bring up that you only have your powers inside the Matrix like simulation. In the real world, aka the space ship that you are on, you will not have these powers and there are some missions where your powers will be switched off in the simulation.
The ship acts as the home and work place for your team. You can talk to them and ‘romance’ them as a parody of Mass Effect’s relationship system. One thing that can get annoying is that characters will want you to come out of the simulation to come to talk to them each time you complete some kind of quest for them. There are points where if feels like you’re doing this several times in a row and it just feels time consuming and unnecessary when the reward can only be used inside the sim city. Why not just transfer it to me while I’m in the simulation? Like previous Saints games, if features a high degree of customization. The extensive character creator lets you make your character look like anything you want. It’s a lot of fun and I spent the first 30 minutes of my time with the game making my character. You can go to stores and buy clothes that have custom colors you can choose from. Your guns are all fully upgradeable and customizable. You can even make them look like weapons from sci-fi movies like Star Wars, Aliens, Firefly, and Star Trek. Speaking of which, the guns in the game are a lot of fun to use.
My favorite gun being the proudly featured Dubstep Gun in which you can lay a path of destruction and death with dub dubs and wub wubs.
The gunplay itself, however, is very shallow. There is no cover system and not much of a dodge mechanic but you won’t really need it when you can just speed or jump out of the way like Superman.
There are lots of side missions and activities scattered throughout the game, most of which are fun. There is super racing, superhero fight club, mayhem destruction missions, Dr. Ginki’s telekinesis challenge, and many more. I’m sure everyone will find one to be their favorite. My least favorite was the hacking which you have to do if you want to unlock all the stores in the city. Speaking of the city, Saint’s fans might be a little disappointed in the fact that they are basically just revisiting Steelport from the previous game again instead of getting a new place to explore and I can see how that can be disappointing. On the upside, the super powers make the way you explore and move about the city differently. Sadly, Saints Row 4 is filled with many glitches. While a lot of them are harmless to the overall gameplay, there are some game breaking glitches that you may encounter.
The most serious glitch I encountered causes an infinite loading screen halfway through a mission.
I replayed the mission multiple times only to run into the same problem over and over. I even went back to the store and got the disc swapped out to see if it would make a difference. Nothing. Then I found out on a forum that you cannot use explosive weapons at all at the start of the mission or else it will cause that loading screen. This isn’t exclusive to one version of the game, it’s across all consoles. Not cool. Another glitch caused this object I was supposed to be guarding and moving to fall through the ground and disappear, leading me to have to restart the mission. I noticed these types of glitches picked up near the end of the game and I’ve heard about the game freezing on the last couple missions though the PC version is supposed to have fewer glitches and are more likely to see a patch sooner.
GRAPHICS & SOUND:
If the best graphics are important to you, you’ll definitely want to go with the PC version of the game.
I have the 360 version and it’s downright ugly at times. Even after installing it, it still have pop-in textures from time to time and other texture glitches like rippling walls, which I’ve never seen before. TO BE FAIR, some of these texture glitches could be on purpose since the majority of the game takes place inside a computer simulation and do increase as the game progresses. In that case, some of the graphics glitches work in the game’s favor as a kind of 4th wall joke. The character models look good though and I was impressed with the level of emotion shown on their faces, especially my character since she was a custom design.
The voice acting for SR4 is top notch and really brings the characters to life. The President has 7 different voices to choose from including Nolan North. Keith David plays the role he was born to play as Keith David. Natalie Lander does a great job as the Saint’s computer nerd Kinzie. Danielle Nicolet does a good job as both young and older Shaundi. And there are many more great voice actors on board with this game including Troy Baker who’s just in every game this year it seems. The music is filled with licensed music from multiple genres such as rock, hip-hop, dubstep, 80’s pop, 90’s grunge, classical, and many more. All of which can be listened to from the in game radio that has a playlist that can be edited to your liking. The game also has the best use of Stan Bush’s You Got the Touch since the 1986 Transformers movie.
Overall, Saints Row 4 is a crazy game that lives up to the over the top nature that everyone has come to expect from the franchise. They have painted themselves into a corner with this game however. I mean, how do you top being a super hero and fighting aliens? The developers have said that this will be the last iteration of Saints Row as we know it so whatever Saints Row 5 will be called, it will most likely be a reboot of some kind. The game does have its share of problems and some might not like its complete deviation from crime/gangster gameplay but personally, that deviation is what made me interested in this title in the first place. If you want a serious open-world crime game, go with GTA5 which comes out in a couple weeks. Like I mentioned, you’ll probably want to go with the PC version of the game if you want the best graphics and performance, so feel free to give this review an 8/10 instead of a 7 if you’re going with the PC version. Thanks for reading! I will not be covering Grand Theft Auto 5; however, my friend Grant will so be on the lookout his review of that highly anticipated game. Also look out for my overview of Dead Or Alive 5 Ultimate coming very soon.
- Super powers are a lot of fun to use
- Crazy and fun story with great characters
- Good length with lots to explore and do
- Many glitches including some game breaking infinite loading screens
- Super powers do make some aspects of the game obsolete and makes the game a little too easy
- Shallow gun play