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The Saints Return to the Hood

Written By: Elliott Thomas

Sept 3rd, 2013

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  • Publisher: Deep Silver
  • Developer: Team Volition
  • Rating: M for Mature
  • Genre: Action Sandbox
  • Players: 1-2 (Online Co-Op)
  • System: PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360

Since it's debut the Saints Row franchise has been the most insane, comical and completely over the top saga in the history of gaming. What some originally saw as nothing more than a GTA clone has become one of the most popular and unique titles in the sand box gaming genre. This series has taken open world gaming places where other franchises could never follow. Now comes the climactic final chapter of the current Saints Row saga.

Just The Facts:

In many ways Saints Row IV is your typical open world game, at least on the surface. However once you actually spend time playing the game you quickly realize there is nothing else like this title on the market. The plot is simple, the main character from the previous games, simply known as "The Boss" has now become the President of the United States of America. He and the Saints now occupy the White House. All your favorite characters are here from Saints Row 3, along with a few surprise guests including veteran actor Keith David who plays the part of the Vice President. On the eve of a major public summit Earth is invaded by an evil alien species known as the Zin. They capture all the Saints, including the main character, and that's where the insanity begins. You quickly discover that everyone has been trapped in a virtual reality matrix, and the world around is you is just a virtual prison.

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Without giving too much away about the plot, this game centers around two primary goals. The first is to free your comrades from the clutches of the Zin. The second is to exact revenge against the Zin leader, the evil alien overlord known as Zinyack. Players spend time completing various story based missions as well as competing in challenges spread across the world map. These challenges include the typical activities such as causing mayhem, playing in traffic, assasinations and competing in the infamous Professor Genki arena. Both the story based missions and the challenges award players with currency which can be used to purchase upgrades to both your weapons and vehicles. You also gain super powers, and that's where the real fun begins.

Super powers are what truly sets this game apart from other entries in the series. Your powers range from the obvious like super speed and strength, to unique abilities like mind control and telekinesis. When I first heard about the super power angle I was a bit worried about this game. However I was fortunate enough to try an early demo of Saints Row IV at the E3 Expo, and once I tried the game for myself I was instantly hooked. The powers are what makes this game so great. There is nothing like the thrill of running up the side of a skyscraper or picking a car up with your mind and throwing it at a group of hostile aliens. It's completely over the top fun and I loved every minute of it.

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A Trip Down Memory Lane:

If you're like me you have been a fan of this series from the beginning. Longtime fans will be rewarded for their loyalty during the course of the game. There are many surprise guests and story elements that return from previous games. It's a nice pay off for those of us who have stuck with the franchise from the start. And for those of you new to the franchise, not to worry, the game is still a lot of fun even if you are not up to date on the Saints Row mythos.

The story itself is also very funny and at times wildly entertaining. I literally found myself laughing out loud several times while playing the game. The humor fits in very well and it only serves to enhance the overall gaming experience. It's also a satisfying conclusion to the Saints Row story arc. While this game may seem like the final chapter of the Saints, we know for certain that it's not the end of the franchise itself, just the conclusion of the current story.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly:

The best part of this game are the missions and challenges, all of which are made more fun by the new super powers and a host of crazy new weapons. To put it bluntly this game is enormous amounts of fun. It's crazy, can't put it down fun. You wont want to stop playing until you reach the end. Even when you do beat the main story you will probably want to come back and finish all the challenges. This game is completely addicting.

Saints Row IV is also one of the best co-op games I have ever played in my entire gaming career. This series has been known for its excellent co-op gameplay since the release of Saints Row 2. I have played through every game at least twice in both single player and co-op mode. Co-op super powered gaming is simply incredible. It's the most fun you will have playing games online with a friend. It's also a great reason to play through the entire game twice.

This game has very few drawbacks but there are some things that detract from the overall experience. First, there are a few story missions that feel like filler. That's not much of a problem as it's only a couple of missions. The in-game soundtrack is also very limited, and you may find yourself turning off the radio soon after you start playing the game. However my biggest complaint concerns the graphics. It's not that the graphics are bad, far from it, but the designers used a visual effect that simulates digital artifacts on moving objects that quickly becomes annoying. Remember, you're trapped inside a computer simulation, hence the choice to use this unique visual effect. Also, when you are low on health the screen will blur and pulse. I found this effect very taxing on the eyes. Putting these small complaints aside I still have played over 30 hours of the game, and will easily continue beyond 40 hours or more. So please take my complaints with a grain of salt.

The Final Word:

Saints Row IV is one of the most enjoyable games I have played this year. It is enormous amounts of fun whether you play it alone or with a friend. However this game only gets better when you play with a friend. Super powers are a great addition to the traditional gameplay, as are all the crazy new weapons and vehicles. The game has a story that's both funny and full of rewards for long time fans of the series. Whether you have played all the previous games in the franchise, as I have, or if this is your first Saints Row game, you will be sure to have a great time playing this game.

Saints Row IV is fun with a capital F-U-N.

  • Gameplay: 9.5
  • Graphics: 8.5
  • Audio: 8.5
  • Replay Value: 9.5

Final Review Score: 9/10