Saints Row IV – Review
“Hey Kinzie, you wana fuck” – Protagonist
That line up there gives a good example of how this game plays out. It is over the top. It is funny. The dialog is awesome. The important part though, it is fun.
Saints Row IV has been compared to both the Grand Theft Auto series and Crackdown. You might even want to throw in a little bit of Bioshock for flavor. That really is a fair comparison. There are instances from all three games that shine in the newest edition of Saints Row. For instance, the ever popular jacking a car from some instant bystander. Walking down the street and just going on a murderous rampage. Getting your notoriety up high enough to attract the cops (aliens as well) and other small things borrowed from the GTA series.
The Crackdown experience is brought in right away. There are super powers you can unlock throughout the game. Some of them include the famous high jump, ultra-fast running, destructive force and other small things. The other thing that this game borrows from Crackdown is the Orb collecting, or as they are called in this game Data Clusters. I have to say it was more fun collecting all the Clusters in this game than any other game. Once you progress further into the story, you gain an ability called the Collectible Finder. This will literally place markers on your map and will help you find everything. I found it much easier to jump in the air as high as possible, materialize an aircraft and fly around the city. This will also allow you to judge how close you are to one of collectibles the game offers. When you get close enough to the item, the marker on your map will glow much brighter. Being in the air above everything takes out one of the guessing aspects. You always know that once you get above one of the markers it is directly below you. Some of them are located on the ground, side of buildings and even on top of them. What I did was jump out of my plane and let my character fall. Once the marker got bright I knew I was really close to it. Once that happened I used my ability to run up the wall or fall to the nearest platform. This gave me a real good approximate to the collectible. This way is much quicker than just running around or gliding everywhere. You can materialize anything you have in your garage at any time.
The Bioshock experience comes from one main thing, hacking. If you remember back in the original Bioshock you had tubes to lay down on a grid to get the flow from one side to the other. In SRIV you are basically doing the same thing. Instead of tubes, you get lines that are available in different angles. You start at one side of the grid and have to make your way to the other side. The first few are fairly easy to do. It’s not until later ones that they become harder, as obstacles are in your way. Plus you only get a certain amount of lines to complete the task. I wouldn’t call them difficult by any means though. Some will take a little bit of thought to solve.
While there are some problems with SRIV, those can be over looked for the actual experience of the game itself. The game play is where it shines. I went through the single player without doing any of the co-op missions. Those are not needed in order to progress the story along. Yes, there is a story in this game. While a loose one, it does progress at a nice steady pace.
The synopsis of the story is one we have all done many times over with a little twist added into it. The “world” that you play in is a digital creation of a large city. As you make your way through the city you unlock different stores, activities, vehicles, weapons and so forth. The entire city is open for you to explore. The only invisible walls I ran into are out over the open water when the map ended. That is understandable as there is nothing out there.
There are some major flaws with the game. I myself played on the PS3. I couldn’t even being to count the number of times the game would freeze up on me. Part of the time is wasn’t a console freeze either. The game literally froze. I could still back out to the XMB and restart it. Other times, which the majority of it, the console froze up. It became such an occurrence that I started to notice a trend in it. It would only happen when there were a lot of enemies on the screen. With all the explosions and the particles going through the air, that seemed to be the main culprit. There was also a great deal or red color during those scenes. I am not sure if that would be an underlying case though. Not only was this a problem on the PS3 but I have heard a few people complain about the same issues on the 360. That seems to tell me that it was a programming flaw in the game. It does happen enough where it will get annoying but it will not be enough to break the fun of the game.
You will come across some of the street characters that are walking upside down. Have extremely long limbs and their legs are backwards. At first I thought to myself that this was really inexcusable. These characters are actually close to an Orb that causes this. In case you come across this don’t think anything about it. It is part of the game.
Some of the other things that could have used a touch up was the graphics themselves. SRIV is not the best looking game you will ever play on this gen hardware. It is certainly not the worst either. There are a lot of drop in, draw distance and overall graphical problems. I had one instance where I jumped up into the air and materialized a plane. The plane never showed on the screen. I was in a sitting position flying through the air. It didn’t hamper anything as far as using the guns or actually flying, it was there and really shouldn’t have happened. I think I fell through the map only once as I get hit by a car while standing on the street, I got stuck inside a rock as an explosion sent me flying backwards and I fell through a platform I was standing on while trying to climb one of the towers. Things like these to me should not be overlooked. I understand this is a huge game and not every little bug can be found. I would have gladly waited a couple more weeks for testers to do a little bit better job. Also some of the dialog on the screen was complete to what the characters where actually saying. That really should not happen in any game. They read from a script and that script is typed into the game. That bothers me the most.
As far as the gameplay goes, it was spot on. I didn’t have any troubles with some of the action button sequences or anything registering. The driving was fairly consistent and you could feel the differences between the cars and bikes. The bikes where a bit touchy but after driving one for a while you got the hang of it. Hitting the brake and sliding a car around a corner was fun as well. I never did really master that but the carnage I caused by hitting groups of people or destroyable objects on the streets was rewarding. Flying the aircraft was simple but felt really slow. It was definitely the quickest way from one side of the map to the other. Running and jumping had the most fun while traveling around. The destruction you brought once you got fully upgraded was just over the top. Plowing through big rigs, garbage trucks and highly congested areas was a blast. Just turning around and seeing the line of destruction was satisfying in its own right. If you wanted to take the time you could go back and collect the money that was lying around. That was tedious work. Why do that when you could just smash up more things.
Even with the flaws this game has, it is a ton of fun. SRIV is not a game to take serious. If you are looking for an engaging story line with twists and turn, you will not find it here. If you are looking for a game that has a lot of sexual innuendos, humor, over the top powers and tons of fun, you will find it all rolled up in this game. This game provided a nice break from all the other games coming out there that want to be serious. Just sit back, relax and be prepared to enjoy your time.