I’m not usually the sort of person who buys games on their release date. Typically, I wait until a few weeks after or really any time I can conveniently go buy them. There are exceptions, of course, for games that I’m pretty sure I’ll like. Such exceptions in the past have been for Skyrim & Mass Effect 3. And now, thanks to having the day off, Saints Row IV (which for some reason I keep wanting to type as Saints Row 5 — curse you Roman numerals!). And I have to say, so far this may be my favorite Saints Row game yet.
I think what makes me love the game so much is that, while it’s the most out-there game in the series as far as plots go, it actually comes across as more grounded than in SR3. The game starts with the Saints, for some reason not fully explained, helping MI6 (that’s the British Intelligence Agency for the unfamiliar) taking out some Arabic terrorists & some white guy leading them, who was apparently important but whose name I didn’t recognize. But even though he falls in a vat of boiling liquid, he still has time to fire a nuclear warhead at the US. So the Boss climbs aboard to disarm it, all the while Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” playing in the background. It’s at this point I start cracking up. But this melodramatic act of heroism literally lands the Boss in the Oval Office. Fast forward six years later & the Boss is now President when aliens invade claiming that humans are scum of the galaxy & abduct the best & brightest to be placed in simulations.
Yeah, definitely over the top. But the craziness that happens in the game actually seems plausible under the rules of the game world. Take, for example. the super powers you pick up. Rather than being super powers per se, they’re codes that let you change the sim. The whole thing has a very strong Matrix vibe. But I love messing around with the powers. Super Speed & Super Jump get ridiculously overpowered but make traveling around the city so much easier. I rarely use cars now, which is sort of a shame because now you can “save” any vehicle you get into in your virtual garage & call them from wherever. Also, because bits of code you can use to improve your powers are scattered everywhere, it gives you a reason to explore the city.
Another change I like is the structure of the missions. Most take place within the sim, & you actually have sidequests you can complete for your homies. Most of these take you through the various activities & diversions in the city. I like this structure because you can still do the activities on your own. If there’s a mission that required you to do that activity, it’ll mark that you’ve done & move to the next. There’s structure but not at the cost of freedom. Another good thing is that missions unlock different outfits & abilities that can be very useful.
SR4 also has a lot of personality & references without coming across as blatantly pointing something out. It’s less of a “Remember this” & more like an homage. I already mentioned the Matrix, but the ship that acts as your real-world hub reminds me of Mass Effect (as does the “Romance” options), there’s a droid homie you pick up that reminds me of Goto from KoToR 2, I’m pretty sure the golden droid you can catch to instantly get rid of your notoriety is a giant golden snitch & there are Terminator enemies. But again, the developers don’t really draw attention to these facts so I don’t find it annoying. If anything, it makes me laugh. Like during Matt Miller’s loyalty mission when I was dying at Matt explaining the intricacies of fanfiction.
I’m looking forward to continuing to play & enjoy this game.