Zero Lives Left – Saints Row IV

Game: Saints Row IV
Released: 2013
Available On: Xbox 360 (Review), Playstation 3, PC
Genre: Third Person Sandbox

Gaming is escapism. I could play games that involve me going to a door company and writing up orders all day, but that would be a terrible way to spend a day off. I had a hard enough time as is finding any enjoyment in Skyrim’s Hearthfire when it told me I needed additional hinges to build the door for my house. I personally play video games to get away from the monotony and mediocrity that is my life. I want to feel like a badass and for all of the characters in the game to scream ‘Justin, you are a badass!’ — It actually gives me a reason to wake up. If there is one thing that the Saints Row does better than most is make you feel like an untouchable badass. Saints Row IV just amps all that up by giving you the ability to run up buildings, sprint faster than cars and fly across the entire map. It is why after a long day of selling doors I enjoyed Saints Row IV so much; imagine how many doors I could sell if I had super powers.

The story is an exercise is excess. Actually, in all consideration that would be an apt description for the entirety recent Saints Row. Saints Row exists in two realms of existence: Saints Row 1 and 2 on one side of the coin and Saints Row the Third and IV on the other. The realm of realism is long gone in recent Saints Row, this side of the coin celebrates absurdity and over the top spectacle. In Saints Row IV you play the President of the United States of America. Mind you, you are still the boss of the Saints because it is the natural progression when your gang has already reached the top. It is a normal day as President until an army of aliens invade Earth and kidnap most of the gang. You are then thrown into a simulation of your city and you need to find a way to undermine Zinyak (the alien leader) and get revenge for what he did to Earth.

This is where the super powers come into play. Due to being in a simulation you can ‘alter the code’ and somehow gain the ability to jump higher than most buildings. The super powers are an absolute blast. You get various passive powers and a few active ones. The active powers include telepathy, element energy balls, ground smash and element buffs. They are very simple in idea and execution, but when you use them all in tandem you become a powerful killing machine. Isn’t that the point? The freeze energy balls will freeze spaceships and cause them to come crashing down, the telepathy can pick up enemies to throw at other enemies and the ground pound can cause them to shrink down to bug size. Imagine now switching between all of those at a moment’s notice, you are in complete control and you won’t let it up for a second.

There are a bunch of weapons that are incredibly fun to add to your arsenal. On the simpler side of things is the Bounce Rifle and the Disintegrator. Jumping back into the land of excess however are the heavy hitting weapons like the Dubstep Gun, the Inflatoray and the Singularity Gun. The Dubstep Gun plays dubstep and shoots pockets of explosive energy at your opponents while the singularity gun shoots literal black holes that eventually burst causing massive damage. This tongue in cheek ridiculous transfers over to the story missions; notably in two missions where you enter a Splinter Cell/Metal Gear Solid parody and another where you enter a side scrolling beat ’em up. The game also does a damn fine job in reference the three original games, especially the first one.

Technically the games has some faults. There is some glaring slow down in the game, especially when an achievement pops up. After you get some of that sweet gamerscore goodness, there is a lot of stutter and hold up as the pop up disappears. I am too addicted to getting that high of an achievement popping so I can’t say if you disable all notifications if that slow down would go away. I did not notice any of the slow down during combat alone, but if an achievement would pop up during a fire fight it would get pretty annoying waiting for it to go away so I could play without lag again. I also had three instances where the game froze completely and I had to hard reset my Xbox. Saying this was annoying would be an understatement. If there is one thing technically that can get me in a sour mood it’s freezing. I can deal with lag, I can deal with audio glitches on start up, but if I need to get up off of my couch I will be very, very upset.

I’ve seen some whispers on the internet ragging on this game for essentially being ‘retail DLC’. This is because Saints Row IV initially started as the idea of DLC for Saints Row the Third that was put on hold when THQ went under. This has been expanded and turned into a full length game while the original DLC ‘Enter the Dominatrix’ will come out later. If this has any relation to the original DLC, I have no idea. This has lead naysayers to criticize that you are playing on the same map as Saints Row the Third and ultimately this game is lazy. I can admit that some of the side quests are disappointing because they are all the ‘activities’ that were in previous Saints Row games, but the loyalty missions and the rescue missions for your homies are an absolute blast. This game isn’t lazy in the sense that Volition did this just for the money, you can tell they love their games and the world of Saints Row. This game has a lot of detail and heart behind it. As much heart as you can fit inside of a dubstep gun.

In the end I have a recommendation for Saints Row IV. I enjoy the heck out of these games, they are a great way to spend some hours being silly and laughing about how absolutely ridiculous it is. The game will make you laugh and the story is fun, albeit predictable. Most of the faults I have with the game fall into the realm of technical and dull side quests. The game itself doesn’t feel like a grind however, which is a very good thing. The main campaign is fulfilling yet short and the voice acting during the cutscenes is top notch. I recommend this game, it won’t change the gaming world but it isn’t trying to. Now let’s just wait eagerly for some DLC or the next game where you’re a literal Gangster in Space.

Saints Row IV:  7/10

I’m going to try and keep Zero Lives Left going weekly again and hopefully inspire some of the other gentlemen to join me in bringing TUG back. As for a little hint for next week’s review to ensure I stick to my guns and update:

Bathroom Break

In the meantime follow Justin on Twitter at @KingCauti and like The Ubiquitous Gentlemen on Facebook.

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