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Saints Row IV Review

I was worried Volition had designed itself into a corner with Saints Row the Third, bringing the series to an unparalleled level of parody in games. How was Volition to top things like the Penetrator? Thankfully, my fears were unfounded and Volition brought Tentacle Bats and Alien Anal Probes to Saints Row IV. 

With Saints Row the Third, critics (mostly Yahtzee) voiced their concerns abut players having little motivation to progress through the game since they receive an arsenal of helicopters and rocket launchers within the first few hours of the game. It shirks the sense of progression that's found in the Grand Theft Auto series, where players have to put at least some amount of effort into obtaining an aircraft. In Saints Row IV, Volition showed that it took none of this criticism to heart and instead decided the most appropriate answer to this was a giant middle finger. 

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At its core, Saints Row is a series of comedy games and Volition showed that its perfectly willing to bend gameplay in favor of allowing players to have fun. As a result, Saints Row IV is centered around The Boss fighting off aliens in a simulated world as the president of the free world... with superpowers. (Think superpowers along the line of Prototype and Infamous and not Marvel/DC.) 

Yes, since "bigger and better" is apparently the mantra for all sequels, Saints Row IV decided to go the route of superpowers over better cars, guns, and airplanes. (To be fair, this isn't necessarily accurate about the guns as the guns do get bigger and better.) 

But it's not just gameplay itself that's been given the horse steroids treatment. The franchise has always been about poking funnies at the tropes of the sandbox genre. This time around, nothing is safe from the reach of Saints Row IV's dubstep gun. Movies and gameplay genres are all equally lambasted by the game's penis jokes and irreverent sense of humor. 

Originally, after the first few hours of playing the game, I was ready to write it off as the Scary Movie III of videogames. The jokes felt all too random to me and the gameplay a little too scattered as a result of all the gameplay genres it tries to parody. Essentially, I thought that Saints Row IV was trying too hard to top Saints Row the Third. I wondered whether I was truly enjoying myself, or if I was only cracking smiles and laughs because of how much Saints Row IV appealed to my sense of gaming nostalgia. 

A few hours later, it finally clicked with me. I was taking Saints Row IV far too seriously and holding it to a standard that the game wasn't trying to reach. Half of the jokes cracked were at the franchise's own expense. If parody, when done correctly, is the ultimate form of flattery, then Volition is writing a long love letter to the games industry. It manages to capture the essence of what we love about most games, even if each genre drags along with it very silly tropes. And in this day, where we're fast approaching photorealism in graphics and beginning to tackle on hard hitting issues with games, Saints Row IV is Volition's gentle reminder to gamers that games are meant to be fun. 

Though I did have a blast playing Saints Row IV, there were some technical issues I encountered with the game that did somewhat mar the experience. At a juncture late in the game, I was prevented from progressing in the game simply because the mission broke for me. I heard reports from fellow previewers who also encountered the same issue at a similar juncture. For reasons unknown, I was eventually able to get on through after reloading the same mission multiple times. Hopefully, technical glitches like this will be repaired come launch day tomorrow. 

In any case, while there may be games out there like The Last of Us or BioShock Infinite vying for your attention, leave a little space on your gaming shelf for Saints Row IV so that you can keep in mind that it's okay to laugh, especially at lowbrow humor, in the midst of all the angst.

Final score: 4/5

 

  • BringMeAnother
    Since when does Tom's do reviews? I'd rather they stick with tech related stuff since there are plenty of game review sites.
    Reply
  • patrick47018
    Why not have Toms make a seperate site for gaming?
    Reply
  • bustapr
    there is a site called Toms Games, but Im not sure if they still do anything with it. but I like the occasional game review for a game thats been in the news as much as this one has. Toms has had quite a few news stories following this game and it seems fitting to see a review up. Also, this site isnt just about electronics. this site has always done some gaming news.

    "The company’s flagship publications provide millions of readers with unbiased reviews, news and information on technology, consumer electronics, enterprise IT, and more, and helps simplify the purchasing process by providing high-quality content readers can trust. "

    I liked this game. it was very fun, but I think it was made less fun because of the super speed. there isnt much reason to get in a car when you can just charge down the road on foot like the Hulk.
    Reply
  • hakesterman
    Why not let Toms do gaming reviews, IGN does Wrestling reviews.
    Reply
  • CHINPOCLAVO
    Better do a performance review.
    Reply
  • x2ruff4u
    Tom's site isn't what it used to be. I've disabled ads because reviews/blog like this give me irrelevant ads. Hate that "1 weird trick" ad >.>
    Reply
  • mman74
    I don't mind one bit if Toms does the odd game review. Breaks the monotony of reading about hardware. Half of the hardware news don't interest me anyway, if you don't like, don't click.
    Reply
  • mobrocket
    Got to love SR series

    Glad this reviewer understood, that SR is a parody paying respect to the gaming industry thru comedy. People who bash this as a GTA rip off, just dont understand
    Reply
  • blppt
    @mobrocket
    I understand it is a parody, but for me--Just Cause 2 is the absolute pinnacle of the "sandbox parody" game, and it is so much more enjoyable than Saints Row 3, and probably this sequel (most sites I've seen say SR4 is slightly inferior to SR3).

    Plus the graphics in JC2 were light years better looking than SR3 too. Take a plane over the island---its freaking beautiful with the graphics maxed.
    Reply
  • cjmcgee
    1) No field of view setting!
    2) Only saves at checkpoints, which seem to be spaced out like 15 to 30 minutes apart at least at the beginning of the game.

    #1 has a hack to get around, but it is a real pain to configure. But, combined with #2 it means you will be spending a lot of time re-watching cut scenes and replaying the first 20 minutes of the beginning of the game again every time you have to exit to mess with the settings. Farcry 3 had these same problems.

    If Skyrim can manage to save the location and state of every single object and NPC in the world at any time I don't see why these other open world games can't manage to save anymore often then every 30 minutes.

    It pissed me off enough that I lost all my motivation to play within about an hour of getting the game.
    Reply