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This review? I didn’t write it. Hell, I haven’t ever played more than a few hours of any Saints Row game. Luckily enough, our friend Mr. Erich Wildgrube has played them all, and was gracious enough to provide us with this freelance review. Not for money, or even a whole lot of thanks, really. In fact, he’s buying me a copy of Saints Row IV just to prove to me how awesome it is in co-op.

Hey! Who wants to write our Diablo 3 review? You’ll need someone to play it with, obviously…

This is the Way the World Ends; Not with a Bang, but a Wub-Wub : A Saints Row IV Review

First off, let me just say that I love the Saints Row games, but SRIV sets a new bar. A lot of people have complained that this game feels disjointed, that it feels like DLC for SR3; Others griped the superhuman abilities within the simulation world are (forgive my internet-speak) OP, while paradoxically complaining the real-world sections are too hard.

I would argue the way certain reviewers have been playing this game makes it disjointed.  This game is designed to go back and forth between the simulation and the real world; if you exhaust all the free roam content and then do all the structured missions, there is no payoff to getting “super homies,” extra weapons, and new powers that are then available to you.

I am aware that this title’s core concept came about as an April Fools’ joke, that then transitioned into DLC for SR3, that then became a full game; but after playing it, I am fine with its release as a standalone title. If we are all honest here, we could admit that this game would have been a nightmare as downloadable content. If nothing else, it would have required several patches for balance and bug fixes, and I don’t even know if that would have been enough to deliver a truly finished product.

The first two Saints Row games are dark, serious tales of criminal life interspersed with bits of whimsy; in contrast, The Third and IV have much more of a campy vibe – I am looking at you, dub-step gun. At the same time, this game has a few genuinely touching moments. There are character missions you do with your crew in order to progress their stories and unlock new abilities; the ones with Johnny Gat help solidify him as the “heart” of the series, while the ones with Shaundi reveal far more depth than her buxom figure and foul mouth would outwardly indicate. Fans of the series will get even more from these moments, as many of them are direct throwbacks to previous games.

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The Saints Row games are known for some clunky controls, SR1 being the worst offender, and SRIV does not go unscathed. The best way to describe it is “Tom Clancy Syndrome,” where you have so much you can do that you forget which button does what, when.  For instance, I never really got taunt or compliment to work right, and only figured out the radio 75% of the way through the game.  Now as far as major mechanics go, I love me a ring menu, but the D-pad works well this time around.

Shooting is tight, and the new weapons feel very good.  Still, nothing beats the feel of jumping a hundred feet in the air, aiming where you want to land, equipping lightning as your buff, slamming into the ground as hard as you can and wiping out an enemy base without a shot fired. By the end of this game, you are nothing less than a dark god unleashing your powers on the world around you; but if you are following the flow of the game, this is a goal reached after segments where you are outnumbered and outgunned by the enemy, most of which are as intense as they are rewarding.

Photo courtesy gametrailers.com
Photo courtesy gametrailers.com

This is the only Saints Row that does not look significantly better than the one before, but it is also the only Saints Row that I did not notice any lag or freezing during gameplay.  I have never seen more customization options in a game, and your guns look awesome. The dialogue in this game is utter perfection; whether you are listening to Shaundi arguing with… Shaundi, or talking to Keith David about his favorite video game.

When SR1 came out all those years ago people accused it of being another GTA clone… it was probably the truth, plain and simple. SR2 was a step in the right direction, but SR3 was the jump that set these two franchises apart.  SRIV simply continues that next step.  Is it silly? Yes. Can it be unbalanced at times? &@^$ yes. Does it ever stop being Saints Row? Not even for a second.  This does not feel like a “new” game so much as it feels like coming home to Third Street to find your crew ready and waiting to hit the streets once more.

[amazon_link id=”B00BRQN2EM” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Saints Row IV was reviewed on Xbox 360. It is also available on PlayStation 3 and PC.[/amazon_link]

Like Erich’s style? Follow him on Twitter! https://twitter.com/JSWolfwood

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