Play
Please use a flash video capable browser to watch videos.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Review

Saints Row IV Review

  • Game release: August 20, 2013
  • Reviewed:
  • PS3

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.

Being the president means having to make the tough choices.

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.

Sprinting around at super speed: the only way to travel.

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.

You will do a barrel roll. Keith David demands it!

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.

The sun never rises on Zinyak's Steelport.

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.

For the love of god, put some pants on!

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

27 comments
Gixzr
Gixzr

the ending...  :)

rivercube
rivercube

This game is meh. The writing is actually horrible. In plot writing, you have 2 threats. A big on and a small one. You care less for the big threat because you know the status quo will reset and everything will be normal. But the small threat is more fucking weird scary "oh my god is that going to happen" moment, and it keeps you on the edge of your seat. But this game just sort of throws the fucking sink at you without a big actual threat? Like, the world is already destroyed. And it isn't too funny, because there aren't that many serious moments. Game wise, it's pretty good. But for a long time Saints Row fan, this game is disappointing as fuck. It's a parody of EVERYTHING. Romancing people? - MASS EFFECT

SuperPowers- Basically, Crackdown and Prototype

That mech suit thing - It's music at  one time resembles the Pacific Rim theme.

Hacking - Pipedream

Bone Claws - Wolverine 

etc. 

It's a good game production quality wise, but theres something missing. Where did the serious and intimate gangster side of Saints Row go? Im so sad, and so disappointed because this game could have been so much better :(

eggmanstudio
eggmanstudio

I'd describe this as everything you wanted to do  in Saint's Row III but couldn't without turning on cheats. This game is even more insane than SRIII, and a total blast. Loving it!

Zekethompson22
Zekethompson22

I want to play this really bad the third game was so good. 

lordgoregore
lordgoregore

This game WAS great till I go to 85-90% Now it crashes constantly ! I'm at the part with RP on the roof top . it took 6 try's to get here now it doesn't end every time I get to the end it just locks up . All my other games play fine and I haven't even tried any codes . Anyone know whats up with this ?

jubeio
jubeio

This game is absolutely incredible, I'm having so much fun with it, just wanted to spend a bit of a break to see how it reviewed compared to how I feel, kind of disagree with the bad I love the combat so much!

low_earth_orbit
low_earth_orbit

I drive by volition studios everyday! sometimes leaving the pubs, i stumble by! Bring back red faction you bums!

djclintonk
djclintonk

It's almost identical to Prototype1 and 2. The only difference is that Prototype 1 & 2 had different cities. Saints row IV is just like Saints Row III only with a new coat of paint. Still a fun game though. (so far)

gunslinger_boy
gunslinger_boy

Playing it now, and having so much fun! Being a fan since the beginning, I definitely appreciate and enjoy how the team took it a different path than GTA. Saints Row 4 is really wacky, funny, and most of all, FUN! And for those who were wondering if the story was better than 3, well it is!

BlackDragon74
BlackDragon74

Can't wait for the UPS guy to drop my copy off today! Game looks low brow and crazy. Just what the Dr. ordered after a boring day at work. key word here...FUN!!

Kr3isen
Kr3isen

I got bored of SR3 about 4hours in so i think ill pass on this ''expansion''.

40Sac2Frdm
40Sac2Frdm

Does anybody else feel like the series fell off after SR2?

Derugs
Derugs

Ughh...  not even remotely interesting 

axelx666
axelx666

Also, does everybody notice how Carolyn reviews ALL the blockbuster/hit games?

i mean i know shes a transgender, but you don't have to constantly show everybody that you're not against transgenders.

i wish somebody else would review the top games..i mean she's a good reviewer. but somebody else should get the spotlight for a chance :/

axelx666
axelx666

i miss Sr2..back when everything was Gangsta.

Sarijon
Sarijon

Same old same old dull gameplay and stupidity - there appears to be a lot of potentual here but I'm afraid its sadly lacking.....

Llednar7
Llednar7

Seems like fun. Fun matters :3

Travian1
Travian1

When I saw the previews, I was hoping they were going to have something similar to agility orbs like in Crackdown. This sounds like it will be a lot of fun!

ErickPS4
ErickPS4

I liked third, but forget this game. Is the same Saints Row Third with new missions. You can see it trying inauguration station, but with worst graphics.

GLOK1132
GLOK1132

So saints row went from being a super juvenile Grand Theft Auto to being a super juvenile Prototype.   WTF

RussellGorall
RussellGorall

I cringed as soon as I saw this person was doing the review. I will look elsewhere for an opinion.

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

Huh forgot this game was on its way out the door too bad I have no intention of getting it maybe when it hits the bargin bins...

TheLamaKnows
TheLamaKnows

@rivercube I agree. The game is a comical reskin of Prototype. Like that other game, the powers are cool and fun, for a brief time. But the game relies too much on spamming them in virtually identical situations over and over. When will game devs learn that if something is fun once or twice, doesn't mean that putting 50 of them in the game must be that much better. Make single encounters more meaningful, mechanics deeper- instead the mission list reads like any other fetch/kill quest grind from any other game. 

IMO, SR went the wrong direction. It was a perfect foil for GTA, and indeed GTA V seems like it tried to be a bit Saint Row itself. Considering things like never actually needing to use vehicles, yet there is a hijack mechanic and car customization functions. It almost seems as if SR began as a more 'normal' story and like an Ed Wood film full of last minute cuts and revisions- ended up nothing what was intended originally. 

It's a fun game, briefly. But becomes very easy to put down rather quickly. 

RussellMartin
RussellMartin

I'm pretty sure her doing reviews has nothing to do with her transition, probably more about her knowledge and ability.

contraigon
contraigon

You, sir, are prejudiced! :P Personally, I don't care for "her" reviews either, simply because I find them somewhat mediocre (like most of Gamespot).

Saints Row IV More Info

First Release on Aug 20, 2013
  • 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 727 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:
Action, 3D, Open-World, Adventure
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