The Saints Row franchise has always been known for its ludicrousness, and Saints Row 4 continues that tradition with perfection. The Saints gang has ascended to the highest office in the world, and their leader has become the most powerful man on the planet. In his spare time he chases down rocket ships and gravity dives into the oval office to meet with his cabinet members. When the Earth gets invaded by the galaxy conquering Zin he tries to defend it by strapping himself into a giant-sized dual turret that packs more firepower than a 4th of July celebration, and just so happens to be a lawn ornament of sorts on the White House lawn. All of this absurdity takes place in the game’s opening minutes, welcome to Saints Row 4.
Volition truly amped up its ridiculousness game in Saints Row 4 as is evident in its opening few moments. From there things get even zanier when Zinyak, the supreme leader of the Zin, imprisons the Saints in a Matrix-like simulation program to keep them from spoiling his attempts to destroy Earth. This scenario is what leads to Saints Row 4′s greatest feature – the inclusion of super powers.
Thanks to the simulation and its resemblance to the Matrix, Volition was able to believably change the mechanics of its popular open world crime game into a superhero adventure, complete with purple dildo bats and dubstep guns. Jumping entire city blocks, gliding through the skyline, and shooting powers out of your hands and feet provide a God-like feeling that turns Saints Row 4 into the most enjoyable entry in the series. Sometimes the action in open world crime games can become stale after the first 5 hours of driving from point A to point B to steal X for Y, but that isn’t the case in Saints Row 4. Volition’s creative use of storytelling to believably include super powers in a franchise where they don’t seem to make sense paid off in spades, and their inclusion is the best part about SR4.
From the out-of-this-world Matrix meets Mass Effect tale, to the thrill of having super powers at your disposal, Saints Row 4 doesn’t disappoint in the least, but it’s not without faults. Quite frankly its visual design is lacking, and this critique isn’t in reference to the purposely programmed pixelated imagery used in the simulation. Overall the graphics look dated, and on the Xbox 360 the framerate stuttered quite often, creating a screen tearing effect during quick camera movements. The character models aren’t as crisp as other 2013 games either, which adds to the slightly cheap feel that Saints Row 4 offers.
Even with the slightly dated visuals Saints Row 4 is still a must-play affair. The inclusion of super powers and the real-world rule breaking simulation only help to add to the non-serious tone that this franchise is known for. There’s well over 30 hours of enjoyable gameplay contained within the main campaign, and there’s a great mix of main missions, side missions, and challenges to keep the formula fresh each and every time you pop it in for a spin. Saints Row 4 proves that it’s quite alright to develop a game that doesn’t take itself seriously, and its easily one of the best and most fun gaming experiences of this triple-A packed year.
The reviewer paid for their own copy of this game on the Xbox 360 for review purposes.
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