06
Oct
13

Saints Row IV

So does anyone still care about Saints Row IV now that Grand Theft Auto V is out?  I’ve only just begun the latter game, but now I’ve had time to complete Saints Row IV and share my thoughts.  While I purchased, started, then aborted an attempt to play Saints Row the Third after the THQ Humble Bundle, Saints Row IV is my first attempt to complete a game in the series in earnest.  The marketing surrounding the last two games has always been outlandish, and with Saints Row IV that outlandishness appeared to hit a boiling point.  You can see parallels in terms of genre and game play between Saints Row and Grand Theft Auto, but with the fourth entry in the series there is no mistaking this game for a poor man’s GTA.  You blast your way through space and a simulation of life led by a Shakespearean alien tyrant with a comic variety of super powers and weapons.  And you’re the president.

Boss

SR4 delivers both in terms of game play and comedy.  I found the game to be reasonably well balanced and challenging, giving the skill/stat progression a satisfying crunch.  You start unlocking super powers early on.  And while they are flashy, they don’t immediately give you the means to dominate the game right away.  And being a simulation, you’re not the only one out there with these powers.  It works well by providing both low-pressure opportunities to play with the powers by either messing around with traffic, pedestrians, and police, as well as more intense scenarios where alien forces intervene with tanks, space crafts, and super powers that even the odds.  There are plenty of realized opportunities to enjoy game play mechanics for fun and challenge.  Mini-games and side quests are also strewn across the game that continue to make the most of these mechanics.

The game’s sense of humor is also uniquely its own.  Combining both the history of the series with rock solid grasp of popular culture, you get a game that’s capable of poking fun at, and satirizing other games, movies, society, itself, and you, the player.  But what really makes it enjoyable is that the game strives to make you a participant in the joke, rather than the butt of the joke or someone who is just supposed to laugh at the jokes that the game thinks are funny.  And here, I think Saints Row IV holds the edge on games like Grand Theft Auto V.  SR4 lets you actively make contributions to your experience, and provides opportunities to interact with the humor, rather than just have it forced down your throat.  I really hope that the game isn’t overlooked in favor of lavish production values and “cinematic” qualities.  If you haven’t given Saints Row IV a spin yet, you’re only missing out.

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