Digital Spy

Search Digital Spy
6

Gaming Review

'Saints Row 4' review (PS3): Over-the-top and outrageous

By
Released on Tuesday, Aug 13 2013

'Saints Row 4' screenshot

© Deep Silver

The Saints before the alien invasion


Release Date: August 20 (North America), August 23 (Europe)
Platforms available on: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Developer: Volition, High Voltage
Publisher: Deep Silver
Genre: Sandbox

Saints Row 4 has endured a chaotic two-year development process, starting out as Saints Row: The Third DLC, before evolving into a standalone release that was eventually snapped up by Deep Silver after the demise of THQ.

It's a good thing too, because the Saints Row 4 development team has well and truly thrown the rulebook out of the window, creating the game that finally steps out of GTA's shadow, even though it treads ever closer to a few others.

For all of its genre-bending gameplay, video game references, Easter eggs and in-jokes, the core Saints Row 4 experience feels like Crackdown and Infamous rolled into one, much to its benefit.

This shouldn't come as a surprise to those who played Saints Row: Third, because the series has been getting more and more ludicrous ever since a few unfavourable comparisons to GTA during the early years.

'Saints Row 4' screenshot

© Deep Silver

Zinyak leads the alien invasion



Saints Row 4 embraces the series' ever increasing lunacy, wearing its straitjacket like a badge of honour and bouncing around its padded cell with the exuberance of a teenager at their first rave.

In fact, the game's opening scene, where the Saints make their way through an enclosed bunker in order to stop a nuclear missile strike, feels altogether too restrictive when compared to the rest of the game's superhero-inspired action.
    It's the relationship between the crew that provide the more interesting plot strands.
Traditional third-person shooter sections, which haven't evolved with the times, still crop up on occasion, but the majority of the game is spent soaring through the skies of Steelport, raining down fireballs and lobbing cars at alien spaceships.

Even when you are forced to rely on your trigger finger, the Saints' arsenal is gradually updated with Dubstep guns that fire explosive beats, and inflator pistols that swell enemy heads to the size of beach balls. It's just as much fun as it sounds.

The first images of 'Saint's Row 4'

© Deep Silver

Soaring through the air in Saints Row 4



Driving, meanwhile, which remains one of the game's weakest areas, is no longer a requirement thanks to your ability to sprint through traffic quicker than Usain Bolt on fast-forward.

The Saints gain their superpowers after alien invaders hook the people of Earth up to a Matrix-like computer program.

After your heroics at the start of the game, which is masterfully scored to Aerosmith's 'I Don't Want To Miss a Thing', the leader of the Saints is sworn in as president of the USA - until, of course, the Zin show up, led by their well-spoken ruler Zinyak.

The alien invasion angle throws up some entertaining back and forth between the Saints and Zinyak - the latter of whom is wonderfully voiced by JB Blanc - but it's the relationships between the crew members that provide the more interesting plot strands.


Keen to punish the Saints and suppress any chance of an uprising, Zinyak creates separate computer prisons based on the gang's worst fears, and it's up to you to enter the program to rescue them.

Rescue missions offer a largely humourous, but occasionally insightful look at the Saints, although a crude sex joke is never far behind. We wouldn't have thought it possible, but the rescue missions actually take the outrageous gameplay to new levels of insanity.

In one mission you'll fight a giant can of energy drink as a 50ft statue, while another sees players attempt to silence the propaganda machine in a '50s take on Steelport.

Our favourite rescue missions undoubtedly involve video game parodies, and while we don't want wish to spoil them for you, be prepared to travel back to some of your favourite games and genres from the 8-bit era and beyond.

'Saints Row 4' screenshot

© Deep Silver

The Saints must face their worst nightmares



Though these missions rarely live up to the games on which they're based, it's difficult not to be impressed by their sheer variety and attention to detail. They ultimately add more talking points to a game that's blessed with many.

Unfortunately, the same level of inventiveness hasn't been applied to some of the optional side quests, which often contain rather mundane objectives and feel like they've been included simply to pad out the game.
    In one mission you'll fight a giant can of energy drink as a 50ft statue, while another sees players attempt to silence the propaganda machine in a '50s take on Steelport.
Likewise Steelport, which was never the most memorable city to begin with, doesn't appear to have undergone much of a transformation under the new regime, other than a glowing red spaceship and thick cloud hovering above the landscape.

Reminiscent of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon's red mist, the perpetual glow makes each district blend into one, which isn't ideal in an open-world adventure.

'Saints Row 4' screenshot

© Deep Silver

Sprinting through traffic in Saints Row 4



Still, with many of the game's missions taking place in space or in the minds of your crew, the drab cityscape doesn't have a hugely negative impact on the experience.

And while Steelport may look a bit samey, there's lots of areas to liberate, challenges to undertake and energy orbs to discover, all of which take advantage of your excellent super powers.

Furthermore, players can cause chaos while listening to the game's mammoth soundtrack without the need of a vehicle. Saving Earth to Haddaway's 'What is Love' is pleasingly surreal, and there's more than 100 other songs to choose from, assuming '90s Eurodance isn't your thing.

Saints Row 4 may not be perfect, but it will, at least, be remembered for its brazen video game parodies, over-the-top set pieces and outrageous weaponry, rather than being a poor man's GTA. This, in itself, is a certifiable step in the right direction.


You May Like

Comments

Loading...