Still Teeming With Customization
The series’ staple customization options are back, as you’d expect. Rim Jobs are still sitting around the environment waiting for you to bring in your cyber cars for a tune-up or visual overhaul. And, of course, the Boss can be custom crafted to your liking with a few new options tossed in for those looking to do something besides port their last character. You’ll even find a few gems tucked into the returning clothing shops, allowing you to rip off the likeness of Goku, Han Solo or Jango Fett. The main new customization attraction is on the weapon side of things. Weapons can be customized to look and act like completely new guns. The starting SWAT SMG can be changed into a Tommy Gun or rubber band gun, further amplifying the oddball behavior of the title. Other guns can be turned into a nailgun, blunderbuss, water gun and many other random forms. The push to go beyond simple color changes is something we can all get behind. Not to mention this helps you choose the best looking weapon to compliment your attire whether you’re still playing as a hardened gangster or a bounty hunter from a galaxy far, far away.
It must be said that Volition knows exactly what they’re doing when it comes to pairing action and music. They have found the perfect fit for each situation and let the tone flow forth through the appropriate beats. Over the course of the game, I heard I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing by Aerosmith during a life-threatening missile ride, What Is Love by Haddaway during a daring escape with homies and The Boys Are Back In Town by Thin Lizzy during a reunion scene with a fellow Saint. If the punchlines weren’t enough to get me laughing, the expertly combined music and events on screen definitely did the trick.
The Saints’ latest adventure suffers from a bit too much deja vu, mainly when it comes to the content packed within the game. A vast majority of what you’ll see in Saints Row 4 was directly pulled from Saints Row: The Third and its DLC. A trip to any clothing store will immediately prove this point. That’s not to say it’s a terrible thing to reuse content, but it doesn’t help the game pull away from the expansion feel rather than a new entry. Nearly every side activity is back and have received a few variations to accommodate the new powers. So now Insurance Fraud is a bit more silly since you can sprint 100+ mph into oncoming traffic or just go ragdoll 30-stories in the air. Then you have your unsurprising Mayhem variants which see the introduction of a Mech suit and UFO. Steelport may look darker and try to convince you that it’s brand new, but it mostly feels like too much of the same.
Certain Features Lack Relevance
Who knew that superpowers could be a bad thing. The problem isn’t that the Saints’ newfound powers aren’t fun, it’s that it nearly makes everything else in the game useless. During my 20+ hours with the game, I jumped into a car only when the game forced me to. What’s the point of driving between Point A and Point B when I can super sprint to my destination in half the time? Then there are the weapons. As cool as some of them are, they were only used to experiment with or used in some tight situations. Most of the time the Boss was capable of sprinting between Zin and performing one-hit kill cinematics while taking little to no damage, thus voiding the necessity for firearms in most situations. And if your punches don’t get the job done, those handy powers sure will. Ice blasting UFOs out of the sky and TK throwing cars around became the usual approach. It feels as if the new features were directly injected into the formula from Saints Row: The Third without too much concern for their impact on other aspects of gameplay.
Technical Issues – Console
We here at JPS were fortunate enough to try out Saints Row 4 on both PC and on the PlayStation 3. Graphics aside, the differences were quite apparent. The console version fairs a lot worse from a technical standpoint, and I guess some may come to expect this from a near decade-old platform. The title would hang for a little if the player tried to initiate an activity while the game was autosaving, it hard-locked the console a handful of times, a certain audio log repeated on every start up and the frame rate dropped to a crawl when the action was too intense. That last one is probably the most annoying. Being given the ability to sprint unbelievably fast through cars and enemies was fun until the game couldn’t handle everything going on at once. If you’re looking for the smoothest Saints Row 4 experience, PC should be your platform of choice (when is it not the best choice anyways?).
Saints Row 4 boosts itself into all new levels of insanity thanks to superpowers and alien forces. It may be a far cry from what the franchise once was, but the humor is still there and the Loyalty missions show us that Volition still remembers the series’ core. Although the game is sure to provide hours upon hours of fun, alone or with a friend, it looks as though certain parts of the game may go largely untouched due to the new abilities. Guns just can’t match stealing someone’s life force or causing earthquakes with your foot. Get passed that as well as the rehashed content and there’s one of the funniest and zany gaming experiences out there. But be warned, the console version suffers its fair share of technical issues. In the end, we’re left wondering just how Volition will one-up this entry come time for Saints Row 5.
[Editor’s Note: Saints Row 4 was reviewed on the PS3 and PC platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Saints Row 4 (PC/PS3) Review,