Saints Row 4 Review: May The Saints Be With You

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Attention! This is a public service announcement for the citizens of the United States. We are receiving reports of an all out alien invasion. The White Crib has been attacked and the fate of our country is in peril.

It’s advised that you stay indoors and out of sight of our alien invaders. Our only hope now rests with the president of the United States–the leader of the 3rd Street Saints. Stay calm, stay safe and may the saints be with you all.

Saints Row 4 once again drops you into the shoes of The Boss, leader of the Saints and now the free world. While preparing to give a speech at the White Crib in Washington, Earth is invaded by aliens known as the Zin–led by their ruler Zinyak. Upon making themselves known and destroying the White Crib, the Zin begin capturing people–the Saints included–and imprisoning them in a simulation of Steelport.

Steelport itself is a huge, sprawling city full of houses, skyscrapers, industrial plants and gigantic alien towers. Throughout the city you will find all kinds of collectibles like data clusters, statues of Zinyak to destroy or old school text based adventures to name a few.

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Whether you’re cruising around in one of your fully customizable rides, blowing up parts of the city in a giant mech, throwing yourself in front of cars to collect the insurance money, or just having a blast causing wide spread destruction and mayhem, there is always something to do in Steelport.

Wide spread destruction and mayhem isn’t anything new for Saints Row games though, so Volition thought it would be a good idea to add something new; super powers. When this was first announced I was admittedly worried that the Saints Row I had come to know and love would be gone forever drowned in a sea of fire balls and super jumping, but I’m happy to say this is not the case.

Volition has done a great job in limiting how much you can use your powers through cool downs, sections based in the real world and other ways later in the game. Still having all of these powers like super sprint, super jump and telekinesis to name a few are amazingly fun without being too overpowered to take the enjoyment out of the game.

While your super powers do play a large part in Saints Row 4 you would still be nothing without your weapons. Since sections of gameplay are in the real world and your powers have cool downs, your arsenal of insane weapons will still be extremely important.

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You have access to all your standard weapons like 9MM handguns and assault rifles in the real world but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Weapons like the inflato-ray, singularity gun and my personal favorite the Dubstep gun bring a combination of pain and hilarity to the alien overlords and the general public while in the simulation.

When it comes to customization, Saints Row 4 takes the gold. If you see something in the game and think wish you could make that look even more awesome you most likely can.

Let’s start with your character. You have full control over everything from gender and clothing to head size and sex appeal. With so many options to chose from in all the different categories, anyone should be able to recreate themselves fairly easily. I spent a good hour making my character and still didn’t even scratch the surface of all the possibilities there are.

The customization doesn’t stop there though. Cars are fully customizable from bumper to bumper. You can add decals, tint , body kits, underglow lights and all sorts of cosmetic awesomeness. If looks aren’t really your thing you can always customize what’s under the hood. You can add torque to give yourself a little speed boost and reinforced bumpers and tires to keep you running people over long after you’ve made your escape from the Zin.

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If customizing your character and cars isn’t enough for you, Volition has taken gun customization up a level. Now instead of just being able to power up your guns you can change the way they look and in some cases sound. For instance you can take your rocket launcher and put it in a guitar case or change the style of the Dubstep gun giving it a whole new track to play while firing it.

Graphically, Saints Row 4 hasn’t changed very much. It still has the cartoonish style that Saints Row: The Third had, but with a little added flair. Since Steelport is based in a simulation, things will glitch out sometimes like certain walls whose bricks constantly move or pedestrians who become pixelated.

It’s a neat little effect that does two things. It makes you feel like you are really in a simulation while covering up the pop-in you find in huge games like these. I still noticed the pop-in but it didn’t bother me because it feels like it lends credence to the fact you are living in a simulation.

Steelport is a beautiful city full bright lights and thrilling views. Huge neon red alien towers dot the sky just begging to be explored. That first time you climb to the top of the tallest tower and look down on this huge city full of things to do and then jump off is amazing fun.

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The voice acting in Saints Row 4 is done well and even includes a voice setting for your create a character called Nolan North. This isn’t exactly an emotionally driven game though so don’t expect an Emmy winning performance, expect hilarious one liners and copious amounts of cursing in the most gratuitous of ways.

Where Saints Row 4’s audio really shines is its radio stations. Volition has done an amazing job getting some of the top artists and songs from multiple genres and generations including artists like Cypress Hill, Kendrick Lamar, Aerosmith and Paula Abdul for the game.

That’s just a small sample of the 109 tracks split between 7 different radio stations. 8 stations if you include the custom play list where you can make your favorite in game songs.

There is an online co-op mode that lets you play the entire Saints Row 4 story with a friend but it wasn’t available during the review period.

Overall Saints Row 4 is a fantastic addition to the franchise. The over the top action is always fun and there is never a shortage of things to do while roaming Steelport. Saints Row 4’s action packed story is full of insane twists and amazing cinematic moments take the franchise to a whole new level of crazy leaving only one question. Where do the 3rd Street Saints go from here?



A review copy was provided to us by the publisher of the game Deep Silver. Reviewed using the PS3 version of the game.