saints row iv screenshot 01

We decided to do something different with Saints Row IV, and publish two reviews (here’s the other one). Because why? Because this is our simulated reality and we can do whatever we like with it. You’ve got two minutes before we put you back in your vat, human, so hurry up.

You know a game is off to a hot start when you throw yourself onto a nuclear missile in midair and Aerosmith’s I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing starts playing as your AI teammates gush about how you’ve heroically sacrificed yourself to save the world. You also know the game is taking itself about as seriously as a sneeze in September.

The absurdity only escalates from there, as your brand new presidency is plunged butt-deep into an ultra-authoritarian, ultra-intellectual, ultra-gameshow-obsessed alien invasion, and reality replaced with a simulation of reality prominently featuring hover tanks and tentacle-wrapped bats. This version is arguably more exciting, but it’s probably a good idea to save humanity from a future in vats of nutrient-enriched goo, so it’s Saints to the rescue! Wub-wub-wub.

“What if reality is, like, just an illusion? And what if that illusion… is, like, reality? I’m so wasted, LOL.”

“What if reality is, like, just an illusion? And what if that illusion… is, like, reality? I’m so wasted, LOL.”

After making its debut as a GTA clone back in 2006, the Saints Row series has slowly separated itself from any me-too pretensions and established itself as something much more idiosyncratic and arguably much more interesting than whatever Rockstar is doing this week. Saints Row IV is ostensibly a zany, rated M-for-your-MOM open world-‘em-up, but behind the hookers and hotdog suits is a sardonic satire of the American dream with a side order of pop culture parodies for the nostalgic nerd in us all. Okay, so maybe it’s still not that different to GTA but this game has superpowers.

There’s a lot of things to love about Saints Row IV, but the superpowers must be the best of the bunch and not just because you get to jump over skyscrapers and fly and sprint at mega-high-speed, but also because that means you don’t have to trudge around looking for a nice car to jack, only to smash the thing into a pedestrian 0.3 seconds later because they looked at you funny. It’s all about eliminating distractions so you can get busy with more important things, like saving the world. Again. It’s going to look so good on your next election campaign posters too.

That said, there’s plenty to do around town if you decide to put the hero business on pause and break stuff instead. In fact, breaking stuff is the whole point because every time you do something bad in the simulation, you undermine the aliens’ control of it just a little bit. Those bits add up, and before you know it, you’ll have reclaimed a whole terabyte of virtual space.

“And that’s why I punched him in the nuts, officer.”

“And that’s why I punched him in the nuts, officer.”

There’s so much to do, in fact, that this game could sell itself on the overwhelming amount of content all on its own. The campaign missions clocks up around 10-15 hours or so, but there’s easily double that or more in extras, and you’ll probably finish up just in time for the DLC. Because you know there will be DLC.  There had better be DLC.

My only gripes with Saints Row IV are that the graphics are maybe a bit dated (although the generous application of neon makes up for that somewhat) and the too-frequent Warden mini-boss gets old fast.

It’s hard to write much about this game without dropping spoilers, so put it this way – if you like games, you should play this game, and if you thought the romance subplots in Mass Effect 2 were awkwardly contrived, you should definitely play this game.

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