The Ninjabot

Saints Row 4 Review: A Tribute to Saints Row

Posted on August 30, 2013 at 9:33 am by Will Wells

The Ladies of Saints Row

Saints Row 4 is a sandbox crime game developed by Volition. And providing a fuller introduction seems like a waste of time – if you’ve played Saints Row 2 or The Third, you know what kind of game it is. And if you haven’t… what are you doing reading this review?!  Go play them!  Particularly Saints Row 2.

Also – warning, this review will contain spoilers (mostly spoilers already revealed to the public at large, but if you want to go in absolutely unspoiled, then skip to the numbers at the bottom). You have been warned.

Okay, for those of you still here, I’ll cut to the chase and answer the question that you’re asking – how does this chapter measure up to the previous two? A lot of people had issue with some of the changes and tonal shifts in Saints Row the Third. Some felt that the Third put the Saints in a position of power too early, so that it didn’t feel like they were achieving anything in Steelport, and that the wackiness took away from the story by making the world too absurd. Others disliked how disconnected from the story of the previous two games the Third felt. After all, almost all of the (surviving) characters from Saints Row appear in Saints Row 2, even if just a mention (King and Dex) or a brief cameo (Troy). The Third, meanwhile, introduced a pile of new characters and seemed to push aside the older ones.

To those concerns, I say this: Saints Row 4 is a loving tribute to the entire series. Ben King and Julius are both characters and homies for the first time. Shaundi revisits how she changed and considers that she perhaps needs to lighten up. And if that’s not enough, you get “fun Shaundi” as a homie.

I far prefer "fun" Shaundi.  It's the hair, I think.  And the voice.

You can even take them out together and let Shaundi talk to her younger self.

And Johnny mother-%$&@ing Gat is back.

Johnny Gat is sexy in anything - including alien slime.  ... especially alien slime?

YYYYYEEEEEAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!

I see a few of you getting up to leave. Because that sounds bizarre and you liked the series more grounded? Well, weirdly, we have that too. Okay, brief plot synopsis.

Aliens invade, kidnap the Saints (and others), and put them in a VR simulation Matrix style. To defeat the aliens, the Saints have to overload the simulation to take out the alien computers. All the weirdness takes place in the simulation, where Shaundi can talk to herself, characters you killed in previous games can become homies, and you have super powers because you’ve hacked the Matrix and downloaded them from enemies.

Where did Pierce get that hat from?

Fashion outside the simulation is pretty much limited to jumpsuits.

The game outside VR Steelport is actually quite grounded – for an alien invasion plot, anyway. It spoofs Mass Effect 2 quite vigorously, including having each team member ask you to go on a Loyalty mission that determines if they survive the final suicide mission or not. I know this because the quest menu comments, tongue-in-cheek, that you had better do them all if you want the best ending.

Nice boob window you have there, Kinzie.

Loyalty Missions also change your Homie’s clothes and give them super powers.

Thus Saints Row 4 is more grounded than the Third, but also more wild since you have super powers in the simulation. And those super powers are incredible. I have never, EVER had more fun in a sandbox game. Prototype and Infamous pale in comparison to Saints Row 4. Why? Two reasons: Tone and Utility.  The Boss (or the “Player” as Keith David/Julius calls you) is having a blast being a super hero. When you’re running down the street faster than cars, she will often say things like “this is so much fun!” She laughs and generally enjoys herself. I say “her” because I’ve played a female boss since Saints Row 2 when Laura Bailey started voice acting for the franchise. I love her work, and she’s a pleasure throughout.

I mentioned Utility? In the aforementioned sandbox games with superpowers, many of the powers were fairly useless. On the other hand, I used every single power in Saints Row 4. A few I used only occasionally, but they always felt useful and powerful. You get some of the best powers – super running, jumping, and freeze blast – very quickly, and they are useful throughout. Freeze Blast, in particular, was essential during the final boss fight to hold minions at bay.

Aside from pure super-heroic fun, this game also takes a deep look at the relationships between the characters. Each character is stuck in their own personal virtual hell, and so we get a glimpse into each character’s psyche.  And that glimpse is playable. Johnny Gat’s is particularly memorable – his hell is a parody of Double Dragon, in full 2D. Also noteworthy is the new character, Asha (not to be confused with Aisha, which I did at first – I was rather sad not to get Aisha as a homie) whose hellscape is a parody of Metal Gear Solid, complete with cardboard box.

One of my favorite moments is when *SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER*

And let’s not forget Pierce’s personal hell. Or maybe it’s better if we do.

I said before that this game feels like a tribute to the entire Saints Row franchise. I didn’t just mean callbacks to previous games. Saints Row 4 feels like the best possible combination of everything from the previous three games. And, it feels like the best combination of all currently existing sandbox games. It has super powers, gangs, exploration, and wanton destruction (not quite to the level of Just Cause 2, but almost). It may be the most satisfying and addictive combination of sandbox features I have ever played, and I am excited to go back and replay the game to try things differently.

Oh, and since much has been made of it, I will say this – the sex scenes (all of which are PG rated aside from language) range between hilarious and oddly touching. The scenes with Shaundi and Gat particularly brought a bit of mist to my eyes.  Kinzie’s was my favorite though.

"Hey, Kinzie.  Wanna fuck?"

All in all – if you are a fan of Saints Row series – any of the previous games – you should play Saints Row 4. It’s a great end to a great series. And yes, I’m pretty sure (like, 90%) that this is the end of the series. I won’t spoil any of the several reasons why.

So what are you waiting for? Go play Saints Row 4! And, if you haven’t, check out Female Voice 1 (aka Laura Bailey). She really bring her best this game.

Presentation: 9

Gameplay: 10

Replay: 10

LEGACY SCORE: 9.7

This review based on the Playstation 3 version of Saints Row 4.

Geek Legacy’s review scores are on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest possible score.

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