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Review

Saints Row IV Review

  • Game release: August 20, 2013
  • Reviewed: August 14, 2013
  • X360

Saints Row IV's crazy missions, fun superpowers, and funny writing make it an enjoyable way to live out your destructive fantasies.

by

After Saints Row: The Third, it was hard to imagine how this series of increasingly zany open-world crime games could possibly get any zanier. Rather than attempting to tackle that challenge head-on, Saints Row IV sidesteps it by being an almost completely different type of open-world game. Sure, the core of Saints Row is still there; there are still plenty of absurd weapons, costumes, and activities. But the way you interact with the world has changed. No longer are you an ordinary earthbound mortal. Saints Row IV turns you into a superhero capable of running up the sides of buildings and flinging people with your mind. This isn't a refined game or a challenging one, but it is a sometimes hilarious playground of a game that gives you plenty of fun abilities to use and plenty of opportunities to use them.

How does the game explain your new capacity for doing things like leaping tall buildings in a single bound and zapping enemies with freeze blasts? It's simple. You saved the world from a terrorist threat and became the president of the United States. Then Earth was invaded by aliens, and the evil alien overlord had you placed in a Matrix-style computer simulation of a city where, much like Neo, you can acquire all manner of abilities that break the rules of the simulation.

Saints Row IV mines its goofy premise for all it's worth. When "What Is Love" by Haddaway comes on as you're escaping from an alien spaceship, the juxtaposition of grim sci-fi visuals with '90s dance beats is so unexpected that it's delightful. And there's an infectious joy in the way your extremely customizable character, puckish rogue that he or she is, delights in it all, whether you've opted for one of the male voices, one of the female voices, or the aptly named Nolan North voice.

There are no words.

The simulation in which you spend most of the game is a virtual re-creation of the city of Steelport, and the city's layout hasn't changed much since Saints Row: The Third, but the evil alien overlord, Zinyak, has remodeled a bit, and he likes to keep it gloomy. Because there's no day-night cycle during the course of the campaign and the whole city is shrouded in darkness, Steelport is a drab, monotonous setting. But it's much more attractive on the PC, where objects are sharp and defined well into the distance, than it is on consoles, where objects even a short distance away look muddy by comparison.

Given that this is a game in which you can run around naked shooting people with an Inflato-Ray, you might expect the humor throughout to be crass and juvenile. And, for the most part, it is, but not always in the ways you expect. The game's humor is unabashedly stupid, but it's smart about being stupid, working in references to Shakespeare, clarifications about the distinction between alliteration and assonance, and knocks at those silly people who don't know the difference between a robot and a mech suit. The banter among Saints is consistently sharp and will definitely have you laughing out loud on numerous occasions.

Keith David is very convincing in the role of Vice President Keith David.

Very early on in Saints Row IV, you acquire the abilities to leap incredibly high and to sprint at superhuman speeds, and by collecting ubiquitous glowing blue clusters, you can enhance these abilities and the others you gradually unlock. Once you can sprint, you'll probably hardly ever use a vehicle again, since you can run faster than any car, which makes all of the car customization options carried over from earlier games feel a bit superfluous. But it's hard to lament the lack of emphasis on vehicles given the exuberance that can accompany leaping 15 stories into the air and gliding all the way across town.

Those collectible clusters are visible from a great distance, so on your way from point A to point B, you're constantly incentivized to divert from your path, zipping up this building or leaping atop that house to collect them. And if you've attracted too much unwanted attention from the authorities, you can wipe out your notoriety by pursuing a golden snitch-like alien computer orb as it zips around the streets of Steelport and destroying it. It's a refreshing take on the common process of wiping out your wanted level in open-world games, and one that makes using your sprint ability a lot of fun.

While sprinting may replace driving as your primary way of getting around, the powerful attack abilities you acquire, like freeze blast and telekinesis and stomp, don't totally replace your regular weapons, but instead just augment your arsenal. Your offensive abilities need a brief time to recharge, so in between each use, you have a reason to switch to another ability or fire a few shots of whatever weapon you have handy. Unfortunately, though enemies may sometimes overwhelm you through sheer numbers, their AI is thoughtless, so the satisfaction of battle comes not from overcoming a challenge, but from reveling in the power fantasy of obliterating them with energy swords and dubstep guns.

Because the game is so good about doling out new weapons and abilities at a steady pace, you often feel like you have some fun new toy with which to torment your puny alien oppressors. However, because you have so many ways of so effectively overcoming them, combat eventually starts to feel rote and inconsequential, and you may often find yourself just freeze-blasting and shattering your enemies repeatedly to be done with a fight as quickly as possible. And it doesn't help that even though many of your weapons have crazy visual effects or other gimmicks associated with them, they lack any sense of oomph.

It turns out blowing stuff up with a tank is still fun.

Thankfully, there are activities that give you a compelling reason to use some of your abilities. In the twisted game show Mind Over Murder (from the mind of returning murderous madcat Professor Genki), you need to use telekinesis to hurl people, cars, and Genki heads through designated hoops, and it's empowering to zip around the city streets, picking up hapless pedestrians and sending them flying for your own benefit. But the best activities are the old familiar standbys. Hopping into a tank to cause as much destruction as possible is a simple, explosive pleasure, and hurling yourself into oncoming traffic is still good for a few morbid laughs.

Saints Row IV definitely recycles plenty of ideas from earlier games in the series, but it's also frequently inventive, not just in its shift from absurd crime game to absurd crime game with superpowers, but in the content of its story missions. You play a 2D beat-'em-up, return to the series' Stilwater-set early days, complete a Metal Gear Solid-esque stealth mission, battle a Godzilla-size can of the Saints Flow energy drink, and get embroiled in all manner of other insanity. Almost every core story mission and optional crew loyalty mission has an entertaining concept or a funny surprise in store. However, these missions often focus on the same ho-hum combat you find throughout the game, so even though the ideas on display are varied, the gameplay feels a bit flat. Still, it's well worth playing through the story missions just because of their outrageous scenarios and sharp writing.

Story missions pack plenty of surprises.

Even if combat sometimes falls into a rut, there are more than enough surprises in the game's story missions to keep you entertained, and as in previous games, you can increase the mayhem by inviting a friend along to do missions and other activities. Saints Row IV owes a lot to games like Crackdown and Prototype, but the absurd humor that infuses every aspect of this game gives it an identity all its own. The simulated city of Steelport doesn't offer deep gameplay or the most satisfying challenge, but it is a great place to mess around.

The Good
Fun movement and combat abilities
Wild story missions
Some very funny writing
The Bad
Combat grows dull despite your varied powers
Monotonous setting
7.5
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Saints Row IV

About the Author

/ Staff

Carolyn has been wreaking havoc in urban open worlds since the release of Grand Theft Auto III. Alas, she hasn't yet figured out how to leap around San Francisco like some sort of real-life Neo.

Discussion

391 comments
Warmuro
Warmuro

Never played such a funny game !!! Oh my god this game is a complete parody about almost everything !! I think producers smoked weed or something because i never played such a game ! Graphics and gameplay are amazing, voice acting is great too. Don't expect a great story but total bullshit-nonsense fun ! If you want realism do not ever play this game, but if you wanna laugh so hard and just have fun, this is the best game for you !

TheRealCNorris
TheRealCNorris

I find this game politically muddled and profoundly misogynistic.

outlawst
outlawst

giving the player all of the super powers known by mankind,jumping higher than a skyscraper,running faster than a bullet,freezing,firing,telekineses,stomping ,running up the walls and etc...NOT necessarily make a better game.and taking all of them from the player(in most of main quests) is even worse ! in my opinion "this game is a mess" it's not better than the previous one in any aspects(other than the graphic).5 or 6 of 10 at the most.

ZeratulPrime
ZeratulPrime

Why poor me can spawn tank, vtol, heli etc without limit, making this game ultimate EASY.... is it bug or something??

Talisac
Talisac

Why do people keep trying to choose in between Saints Row or GTA? Saints Row started as a copycat, sure, but it has long since quit being anything similar to GTA games. You don't have to like GTA nor Saints Row, but PLEASE stop being children and quit the "GTA/SR is better" bullshit. I've pre-ordered GTA V and am about to start SR IV (just finished SR The Third), so see, your brain is not going to explode if you accept both games for what they are. Some times it feels it's just a bunch of kids who can't purchase both games so they have to defend themselves by lashing out at the one they enjoy the least in order to convince themselves that "they didn't want it anyway"... Fuck...

Sparkrr
Sparkrr

For me, this game is fun to play with a friend and everything. I'm happy for this game to come out and it is just great. I've been waiting for so long. But the think is, i feel like Saints Row the Third and Saints Row IV are the same gameplay with superpowers and aliens added into the fourth! I don't want this series to go bad. Overall I do like the game, it makes me laugh, I enjoy playing with friends. But I feel like after a while i'll get somewhat bored and I hope I don't

7/10

net_demon_demon
net_demon_demon

After playing the game for a few days and getting closer to the end I will say that it is a great game and well worth playing. Its fun and enjoyable. My only real issue with the game is that they really did not come up with a new idea. Most of the ideas of this game was taken from movies and other games. They put them together and then made it work. Sure yes the idea did work and I am having fun with the game but still yet. For once I would love to see a game that gets released and that was not a mixture of other ideas that other people thought of. While playing I some times feel like I am playing a matrix game only its the saints.  Then it has that prototype 1 and 2 feeling so again great game but not really their ideas.

Bahamutx21
Bahamutx21

Wow this realy sucks!!!its like playing third all over again,and the most anoying thing is they haven't realy improved the battle system and the one that realy anoyed me the most is all the vehicle's had the most anoying engine sound ever looks like they repeated the sounds over and over when you are at hi speed it was the same on the third.what they realy should of done was a whole new map ,steelport is prety munch a boring map and the running fast and flying around is a no no for me it ruineds the game whats the point having vehicles in the game.this not a superhero game after all.GTA5 ROCKS!!!..lol

leezer4000
leezer4000

i don't think i'll get this crazy is fine but it's getting a little bit to crazy for me now gta 5 is the 1 for me

DonRoosevelt
DonRoosevelt

This is basically just an add-on or expansion for Saints' Row The Third... I'm glad I rented it, because it really didn't breathe any new life into the series.

cashnmillions
cashnmillions

I've enjoyed the game so far. The only annoyance for me is the poor sound quality, I can never even hear the vehicles half the time. SR4 is fun, which in the big scheme of things, that's what a video game is supposed to be. GTA series has better worlds, but the gameplay is still lacking, I hope they've improved gameplay for GTAV.

thebigzezo
thebigzezo

this series is the best of all :D, i like it...

pure_evil_80
pure_evil_80

Imo this series tries too hard to be wacky and often misses the mark for me.
It always felt a little late to the punch too.

Did like bits of Saints Row 2 and the whole time I was playing it felt like an amusing send up of open world crime games in general but after that it started feeling less focused and more like compilation of things you had seen before in other places.

There's always room for silly games but this series is sorta becoming like those lazy spoof films that come out every damn year.
The ones where it's less about actual humour and more about just references.

MooncalfReviews
MooncalfReviews

Good score :D I'll be picking this up, as the 3rd one was also good.

00J
00J

Heh, would I JUST get Saints Row 4 and not get GTA V? Hell No! Everyone is going to get GTA V.

But Saints Row 4 is a very good game. So if you like Saints Row, you'll like this one. 


D1N02982
D1N02982

I felt like yelling shut up! When I watched the video review cause the reviewers voice is so annoying!

nomadski69
nomadski69

Im more on the GTA side of gameplay preferences usually, and certainly preferred it over SR2. Quite enjoyed SR3, although the city felt lifeless and flat in comparison to GTA IV (which was far from perfect IMO).

What they have done with IV though is actually genius IMO, they have further distanced themselves from what Rockstar do best, and kept in place what they do best, those little wacky funny moments and ideas.This game has those on almost every mission. Funny games are THE most difficult games to do right, most fall flat.

This game is absolutely hilarious. From the prologue rocking Aerosmith while you scale a rocket in mid flight, to the streets of rage mini level, and a hundred things in between, this games genius will unfortunately pass by a lot who look at the game as a puerile GTA wannabe, which it absolutely no longer is. Don't hate the change, embrace it for this one game.

By ripping the game out of reality it has allowed the developers to go up to 11 on the insanity scale, and given an anything goes vibe sorely lacking in today's sandy grey dull shoot em ups and realistic morbid adventures. Let SR IV take you by the hand and take you on a journey into the unknown, just check you still have your watch at the end!

As for the main review, I really don't think Carolyn did the brilliance of the story and side missions any favours, and I thought the shooting was actually more fun than GTA snap locking mechanic. Certainly handles melee much better.

jo8n3645
jo8n3645

this game really surprised me i thought it was just going to feel like an overpriced dlc but it turned out to be really fun and fairly long. took me over 20 hours to complete.

00J
00J

Oh yeah and the Aliens, I thought they would be swarming all over the streets, but it's not like that at all. Which is good. Sometimes you never see them, until you draw them to you.  So you can walk around and not get harassed unless you start breaking the rules. I was relieved when i played and this is what happened. 

You really have to play a game to get the true aspect of it. 

00J
00J

Professor Genki came out!  I was able to freeze him and hit him with the alien rocket launcher though, really fun game. 

Genki; I heard screams and saw people being punted over buildings, so i investigated, and guess who it was? Prof. Genki Rampage!

Oh and the entering and exiting the matrix bit is o.k. I don't think it's that bad because it changes up the game. 

No more Nebuchadnezzar missions though! 

Platforming is o.k. but keep the ship going through the Independance Day closing hangar doors bit to a minimum! lol



jeffosoft
jeffosoft

If you liked the previous games get this one. Its good. The arguments against it are the same tired arguments for every version of this game. Same stuff was brought up for saints row 3.

Will it win GOTY, maybe not but do any REALLY good games win GOTY? Arkham city was good. But Dead Island.. buggy bad story. Skyrim, like it or not its buggy and the story is kind of bad as well.

Anyway Saints row 3 never won tons of awards but it will be long talked about for being a good and fun game to play so will saints row 4. Its like a bad movie that become a cult classic. It outlives all the stuff that wins all the awards today. 

Great game, if you liked the other games you will like this one. If you missed out on Saints row 3 play that then play 4.

Jasondoreen
Jasondoreen

I was on the fence on this game, but I really like it... I fell like I am a BADASS of Saints Row.  Did you play the whole game before you rated it?  Cause Killing  PAUL WAS AWESOME!!!!! As well, there are alot of situations you get put in that you dont have super powers!!! so running around freezing guys and killing them the whole game , IS NOT POSSIBLE.

DeltaForce324
DeltaForce324

so basing on caryolyns reviews the less fun and more poltically correct a game is the higher the review ?

RepoxMan1225
RepoxMan1225

This is a great game. As a longtime SR fan, no, it isn't SR2, or even SR3, but it's a really fun time in its own right and should be checked out. Don't be bitter asshats because it's not the same game.

uprentiss
uprentiss

@Talisac so they stopped being a clone of gta and became a clone of prototype/infamous and crackdown? 

max-hit
max-hit

@00J They're two different type of games though. Not even comparable .

00J
00J

@nomadski69 You gave a good overview, you hit the nail on the head.

It's definitely, well it seems like they knew what they had, they knew the direction they wanted to go and they did it. It does not seem like they were not sure what they wanted to do. 

Not only that, but it is built on a good solid engine, so the animation and speed of the game are superb. 


Oh I wanted to add that it is still enjoyable to drive the vehicles and customize them, it really cool to have the vehicle customization engine built right in with all the new extras. 

00J
00J

@jo8n3645 I rarely feel like playing a game more than once, but this game is so good you just want to make another character and do it again. 

brandonm236
brandonm236

@jeffosoft I seem to remember really good games winning GOTY like bioshock, RDR, and even GTA IV (only SR fanboys think it sucked). Saints row 4 is good but it's just not a really good game that could win GOTY. Also SR2 and SR1 were nominated for GOTY. They may not have won but SR3 was not even nominated for GOTY. Just that part of your statement was invalid. Again no hate on SR4 so don't become one of those SR4 fanboys and start raging on me. 

00J
00J

@jeffosoft I agree. The people that complain about the game or don't like it don't make any sense. It's just a game, what is it supposed to be.

To each his own pretty much.

Superpowers VS. Conventional Weapons and Vehicles. 

This argument about the Superpowers making the character too powerful is unfounded since I've played the game, You can't own this game using only your SuperPowers so I don't know what the reviewers are talking about, if anything they are support abilities.

I find myself needing to utilize both Powers and Weapons AND vehicles.

The Vehicles provide protection from enemies, especially with small arms fire, and once you become powerful enough to not need vehicles it's great to have them in the game to switch up the game play if you get tired of playing Superman. Plus you can run over enemies and the combat vehicle weapons make short work of FlashPoints.

Everything seems pretty balanced out, so I don't know what the other game review sites were talking about? 

Oh yeah the SuperPowers, hey the Powers also have to recharge, so it's not like you can just go around destroying everything by snapping your fingers, another odd mismatch with the other review sites. 

You can't even fly around indefinitely because your stamina will run out, the same as super speed running. 

Again seems pretty well balanced out.





00J
00J

@Jasondoreen Agree. You don't really feel compelled to just freeze people and smash everyone either because your character has such a strong identity.

With the alien invasion bit, you don't feel right freezing and smashing innocent people. 


00J
00J

@DeltaForce324 It pretty much boils down to who you are. Some people can sit in front of the Sims for an entire day, some people can play shooters all night long then need to be up for work at 6am... 


Unbound72
Unbound72

@00J @jo8n3645 Agreed. I couldn't stop playing this game. Had a blast from start to finish. Not often a game can bring a smile to my face the way SR4 did.

SkytheWiz1
SkytheWiz1

@brandonm236 @jeffosoft I liked all of the GTAs from GTA III to San Andreas. When I turned on GTA IV, I was immediately laughing at how serious they tried to make the game - all the while having horrible dialogue and voice acting.

I just couldn't take it seriously, and - to me - that made it horrible. GTAV -does- look more promising, but I'll probably borrow it or pick it up when it hits $20 or so.

jeffosoft
jeffosoft

@brandonm236 @jeffosoft I dont believe GTA4 to be a bad game. SR3 and SR4 are similar games to GTA but with a different play style. You will either like it or not. It's a waste of time to argue which game is better because you can't its not a valid argument. Apples to Oranges. GOTY was a reference to a previous comment and yes some GOTY games were good and some are bad.

00J
00J

@brandonm236 @jeffosoft 

No one said GOTY, but it's a pretty good game. You can tell there is definitely some big money behind the game. 

Not only that but the world is SR3 which you will recognize and that's pretty cool too, with that little bit of nostalgia behind it.  It's familiar if you've played SR3.

AND you can jump clear across the city... 

The Glide Ability is just off from full on flight by just a little, mainly banking and the ability to gain altitude. Even then you can pretty much jump a mile up in the air then Glide half way across the map.

brandonm236
brandonm236

@SkytheWiz1 @brandonm236 @jeffosoft 

I hate people who have no idea you can turn off your phone or better yet, DON'T ACCEPT THE INVITATION. You HAVE to do these chores it's just a way to earn more respect. GTA IV deserved to be GOTY as it was a fun game with a long and fun story that many people would love to play. Just not you. 

00J
00J

@brandonm236 @SkytheWiz1 @jeffosoft 

There is no doubt that everyone is going to get GTA V...

NO DOUBT.

Saints Row 4 is very fun though! That is hard to say about most games. It doesn't feel like a chore, it actually feels like a fun and enjoyable game.


SkytheWiz1
SkytheWiz1

@brandonm236 @SkytheWiz1 @jeffosoft Please don't assume; it just makes you look like an ass.

I haven't said a single nice thing about SR. The games are fun, sure, but I didn't purchase SR3 and won't be purchasing SR4 (I rented both from Redbox).

Like I said, I enjoyed all the past GTAs. I enjoyed RDR as well. But GTAIV, to me, was laughable. On top of the terrible dialogue and cringe-worth voice acting, I felt like it was a baby-sitting simulator in which I kept having to take care of a bunch of adults that wanted to throw darts, shoot pool, and whatnot..

I said it earlier, I say it now, and you won't change my mind about that. Will GTAV be different? Possibly. But if I'm running into people like you who criticize without getting a single fact, perhaps I'd see it as a waste of money too.

brandonm236
brandonm236

@SkytheWiz1 @brandonm236 @jeffosoft You're saying things only a Saints row fanboy would say. GTA IV was awesome and the story was super long. It took me around 60 hours to beat. SR3 just tried way to hard to be wacky and over the top and the end result is a short and stupid story. SR4's story does seem better but the fact remains that if you look at SR3 at night and SR4 without the super powers the two games look identical. In my opinion it's not worth the $50 however GTA V is worth the money. Have you seen the GTA V gameplay. If you have then you should know that GTA V has a ton of variety in both the single player and the multilayer. Why do you not want GTA V besides the fact that you're a saints row fanboy? Or is that the reason? 

Saints Row IV More Info

  • Released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • Xbox 360
    When an evil alien overlord traps the human race in a simulated world to enslave them, only the Third Street Saints, having been elevated to the office of the President of the United States, can save the world.
    7.6
    Average User RatingOut of 733 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Saints Row IV
    Developed by:
    Volition Inc., Deep Silver
    Published by:
    Deep Silver, E-Frontier, Spike Chunsoft
    Genres:
    3D, Open-World, Adventure, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms