SAINTS ROW IV
*FEAR AND LOATHING IN STEELPORT*
Deep Silver’s latest hyper-irreverent installment of the Saint’s franchise has you killing terrorists, dismantling active nukes, assuming the Presidency of the United States, thwarting alien invaders, becoming the Deus Ex Machina of a computer simulation, and naming the actor Keith David as your second-in command.
And that’s just the first fifteen minutes.
Saint’s Row IV magnifies their reckless, hyperbolic style to great effect this time around, pitting you against an Alien race that’s enslaved planet Earth and deposited your crew in a simulation that mimics the Saint’s hometown of Steelport. After being freed from your embryonic storage pod (one of many nods to the Matrix franchise,) you begin to attack the system by performing small tasks and missions that “hack” the simulation, allowing you greater control over a host of super abilities ranging from hyper speed to ice and fire blasts from your palms. Along the way you’ll drive cars from point A to B, destroy this specific structure, kill that targeted individual, and scout for “data clusters” that mirror the skill orbs from games like Crackdown. Nothing, other than the robot mayhem and insurance fraud mini-games, will seem unfamiliar to even casual gamers.
Where these aspects of the game fall a little short of expectations, the main story quests more than make up for it. Expect to lead a crew of narcissists, robots, super spies, and well, Keith David, through some of the most offbeat and offensive missions ever to see a TV screen. Ever stolen and consumed large quantities of alien narcotics? It’s just another day in the hood for you and your teammates. Having sex with everyone in your crew, regardless of gender? It’s a prerequisite for success in the brave new world of Saints Row 4.
The Saints also get a chance to show some love to their favorite movies, referencing T2, Tron, Armageddon, and in one particular instance, a love letter to John Carpenter’s cult classic ‘They Live’ where we’re privy to a shot-by-shot recreation of the Keith David/Rowdy Roddy fight scene, complete with Piper doing his own voice acting. (He later becomes an unlockable member of the crew). The soundtrack is also stellar, with Diplo’s ‘Mad Decent’ label on the dial blasting out some sweet trap beats that are a perfect match for the techno-nihilists you’ll be controlling.
While Saint’s Row IV rests comfortably in the open-sandbox niche Rockstar Games has carved over the past decade or so, it works overtime to dissuade you from calling it “just another GTA Clone”. In fact, it spends a large portion of its time trying to convince you that it’s a plethora of wildly different games, throwing in homages to Splinter Cell, Streets Of Rage, Metal Gear Solid, and even some text based adventures that hearken back to the days when video games came on cassette tapes. This goulash of references extends to the gameplay as well, combining the shoot/steal/murder aspects you’d expect, along with healthy doses of games like Prototype and Spider-Man: Web Of Shadows, creating a super-hero simulator so polished and robust it should have Superman frothing at the mouth.
I give Saints Row IV, 4 out of 5 Nerdskulls.
Check out the trailer here:
If you’ve played Saints Row IV, let us know what you think!
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