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Saints Row 4 Review

Posted by Matthew Hewson On Tuesday 10 September 2013Comments Off

Available on 360, PS3 and PC l Published by Deep Silver l Developed by Volition l Classified MA15+ l Supports 1-2 players

REVIEW IN BRIEF > The 3rd Street Saints make their controversial return and despite the trouble they had getting into the country, there is much fun to be had taking them through their paces once again. The addition of super powers is a brilliant move and makes the game feel fresh and exciting. There are some issues with repeated content and subpar graphics, but these are not enough to derail the wildest Saints adventure yet.

REVIEW IN FULL > I was recently taken on a journey. This journey involved a gangster who became the President of the USA. This Gangster, known only as “The Boss”, witnessed Earth’s invasion and subsequent destruction by an alien race. But this larger than life figure wouldn’t take that lying down. Like all good leaders, “The Boss” decided to rise up against the Alien Menace and, with the help of a small and dedicated group of followers (and Keith David), he returned fire. This was the journey of the 3rd Street Saints and how they saved humanity with determination, resourcefulness and a dubstep gun.

From the over-the-top characters to the insane plot, this was the video game equivalent of the Naked Gun.

I won’t go into further detail in regards to the story, not because it was particularly strong, but because to get the best out of SR4, I had to give myself to the experience. I had to let go of things like logic and reason and I’m sure that I enjoyed the game more because of it. This was a world that encouraged me to not only enjoy the ridiculousness, but to revel in it. From the over-the-top characters to the insane plot, this was the video game equivalent of the Naked Gun. It took all of the clichés and stereotypes that video gaming had offered up over the years and combined them into one entertaining and hilarious mess.

The biggest change to the Saints Row formula was the addition of super powers. I had a blast leaping from building to building, shooting fireballs at energy drink mascots and throwing aliens with nothing but the power of my mind. The city was the same one that I travelled through in SR3 (with a few changes and additions) but I found that my new powers made it feel like a fresh and exciting place to explore. I discovered early on, though, that these powers almost destroyed the need for vehicles, especially once I had upgraded them to their full capacity. After all, why would I drive a car when I could sprint, glide and leap my way to my destination in half the time? In fact, after the first half hour, I only drove a vehicle if a mission required it.

The story missions had always been a strength of the Saints Row series and SR4 was no exception. The variety that was presented in these missions constantly surprised me. It was during these levels and set pieces that the jokes came thick and fast. From sneaking up on guards in a cardboard box (a la Metal Gear Solid) to taking down a giant can of Saints Flow that bore more than a few similarities to a certain cinematic marshmallow man, the parody flew thick and fast. The great part was that, like the best parody, SR4 poked fun with love. It was clear that the creators appreciated the targets of their mirth and never once did I feel that the game was being nasty or vicious in its humour.

Speaking of missions, I would like to spend a little time talking about “that” mission. I was lucky enough to play the uncut version of the game and experience the level that the Australian Classification Board had such an issue with. This controversial segment was barely worth a mention. It involved escorting two people in their attempts to get a hold of some alien drugs that would give them super powers. Firstly, the mission wasn’t that entertaining. There was nothing particularly wrong with it, but when compared to the rest of the game, it was a little on the bland side (so my fellow Aussies, you aren’t missing much). Secondly, the fact that this mission got the game RC’d clearly shows that video games are held to a different standard in this country.  I have seen more explicit drug use in an M rated Cheech and Chong movie or an episode of South Park.  It is simply baffling that this clearly comical use of imaginary drugs could in any way be deemed unsuitable for adults.

Apart from this one easily avoided piece of DLC, though, SR4 was actually less offensive than SR3.

As for the “anal probe” gun, I didn’t bother downloading it. Even though I love the Saints Row series, I felt this had pretty much crossed the line. Apart from this one easily avoided piece of DLC, though, SR4 was actually less offensive than SR3. There were very few sexual references in the game, apart from some conversations I had with my crewmates, and these were clearly a (not so subtle) stab at dialogue-driven games such as Mass Effect.

There were a few issues that I feel are worth mentioning. The side missions were all pretty much rehashes from the previous games and weren’t much of a challenge once I had upgraded my powers. The second issue involved the graphics, which were severely dated. I could also clearly see that this game had started its life as an expansion, because 90% of the assets had been reused from SR3. Don’t get me wrong, there was more than enough content in the game to justify it being a full release (it took me around 20 hours to do just about everything) but it would have been nice to encounter some new scenery. This repetition carried over into the character creation aspects as well. There were still hundreds of ways to customise my character, but they were the same hundreds of ways that were present in the last game.

In the end though, none of these issues were big enough to detract from my time with the game. I enjoyed it in much the same way I enjoyed movies such as Hot Shots or Spaceballs. It offered tight, entertaining gameplay, some of the wildest weapons ever seen in a game (Google the ‘merica gun if you don’t believe me) and a massive world to explore all wrapped in a wonderfully humorous package. I gave myself to the absurdity and had an absolute blast because of it.

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