The lights are on
I love when a game works extra-special hard to impress me, I
may not have been very interested in the Saints Row series, but I gravitated towards
the fourth entry almost immediately, and with the game finally in my
possession, I can safely say that it’s not only everything I could’ve hoped
for, it’s quite possibly the best game I’ve played all year.
It seems like it would be difficult to top how outrageous
the previous entry was, but Saints Row IV wastes no time one-upping itself. And
when you’re a famous celebrity sell-out, where do you go from there? Why the president
of the united states of course. You first act as the leader of the free world;
keep aliens from blowing it up. What follows is a trip through space and
multiple realities to give the alien leader what-for, all while reaching
ludicrous levels of power.
Presentation-wise, the main difference from the last entry
is that the city is now a virtual simulation, which adds a few visual treat;
the world shimmers and buzzes from time to time, buildings ripple up close, and
the sky has been replaced with an oppressive red overhang and alien mothership.
It all creates a very immersive atmosphere that sells you on the fact that you’re
not in the real world, and it’s all complimented by a wonderful soundtrack,
(any game that has both The Romantics and Cypress Hill has to be doing
something right.) voice-acting is top-notch as well, with J.B. Blanc giving an
amazing performance as the alien overlord, plus Keith David is Playing Keith
David (If you don’t immediately find that awesome, than I don’t think we can be
friends.) of course presentation doesn’t sell a game, for that you need good
gameplay, and that’s where Saints Row IV shines even brighter.
Since this game largely takes place in a virtual reality,
there’s a lot of lee-way on what you can do, including kick-ass superpowers
that let run, jump, and glide across the city at break-neck speed or shooting
fireballs, making ground tremors, and throwing stuff with your mind. I’d call
it exhilarating but I don’t think that quite covers it, and making these powers
stronger simply entail gallivanting around the city looking for data bits, and
you know you want to gallivant around the city looking for data bits. Complimenting
your superpowers are a wide array of weapons that offer tons of diversity and
are an absolute blast to use. From alien rocket launcher to a gun that fires
dubstep, there’s plenty of ways to make everything dead.
As for the story, it’s every bit as ridiculous as you’d
expect it to be, taking you in and out of different simulations, taking away
your powers one minute, than super-charging them the next, all while making
your way across different worlds that pay homage to, and parody, a host of
different movies and other video games. It creates good pacing by constantly
mixing things up to keep you from falling into monotony and the level of crazy
on display is almost mind-numbing, but at the same time, it all makes sense in its
own demented way. Even more shocking though, is that it actually got to me, the
Saints problems truly felt like my problems by extension. That, coupled with
the generous rewards for completing missions, meant that I was always
progressing in some way.
If there’s any issue I take with the game, it’s that it’s a
bit easy, even in the early stages it’s not that hard to wipe out your enemies
in droves. But then this is a game about making you feel powerful, and any
issue I might have had with the difficulty is swiftly forgotten once I’ve made
a wave of baddies explode with waves of dubstep. Also some of the mechanics don’t
fit together all that well, once you have you super sprinting and jumping you’ll
probably get in a car again, which kind of renders all the car customization someone
probably worked really hard on kind of pointless. It’s certainly not an issue
for me but I’m sure some people won’t be happy about it, but it’s there if you
want to mess around with it, and even if you never do, there’s enough here to
keep you entertained for quite a while.
Saints Row won my heart almost immediately, it’s great
atmosphere, wonderful gameplay, and surprisingly compelling story all worked
together to make for one of the best, if not the best, game I’ve played all
year. Saints Row purists might shy away from it, but for everyone else, we have
a game that’s so much fun, there should be a law against it. Maybe that’s what
Australia got so worked up about.
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