Saints Row 4 picks up the story line from the end of Saints Row: The Third. You begin on a covert assassination operation. After successfully taking down your target, you save the United States of America from a nuclear strike. Then you become The President of the United States. The shimmer of being President doesn’t last long when your are attacked by aliens. The government and country are in ruins. The aliens are taking hostages and it is up to you to set things right.
The best way to set the game up is to say that The Saints got sucked into The Matrix. Basically you fight almost all of the battles inside of a simulated world that the aliens have constructed to torture you. This opens the game up for some pretty crazy game play, not that previous Saints games haven’t pushed those boundaries already. You get abilities that allow you to run faster than cars and jump over buildings just to name a few. The standard fare of weapons are available plus a few new ones, particularly from the aliens. For the good old times, event like Mayhem and Insurance Fraud are bask as well.
The scene and feel may very well be reminiscent of The Matrix, but the style and sense of the game reminded me a lot of Mass Effect 2. The campaign lays out as a semi-open world experience in that you have a set story you need to complete but some of it can be done in any order. There are also plenty of side missions to keep you busy too. Roaming around on the spaceship was very similar to Mass Effect 2 given that you could chat and romance crewmates, although the romance scenarios play out very differently in Saints Row 4 than any do in Mass Effect. The fact that there are loyalty missions for each crew member makes the game even more like Mass Effect 2.
Don’t go thinking the game is perfect. I experienced some control issues. There seemed to be some physics problems when jumping up the side of buildings that were not perfectly flat. In one part you are falling and must guide yourself through a tunnel. I died over ten times from bouncing off the walls due to the goofy control scheme while falling. Another instance I found both a control and physics problem. At one point you must deliver a tank and I found that controlling this was problematic. On two play throughs I got it stuck in the same place, on a light post. Really? I can drive the tank through a car but I can’t knock over a light post? Is it just this light post? And how do I hit the same one twice? Whatever you do don’t get the tank stuck either. I got caught in between a building and a guard rail. Think of the scene in the first Austin Powers movie when he is driving the cart. This caused me to fail the mission and hence my second play-through commenced. I also found that some of the alien weapons were underwhelming as they felt weak and sounded bad compared to the regular weapons of the game.
If you are looking to get your money’s worth from this game then you better plan on playing all the side missions and events. I played only the missions required to complete the story and I finished them all in less than a twenty-four hour period. Yes, I did take time to sleep during that same period. However, the humor does make up for some of the potential cost. Along with heavy references and homages to the previous Saints games, there are a ton of references to movies and music from the ’80’s and ’90’s.
Speaking of prices…Amazon is asking $50 for a new copy. GameStop is asking $45 online for a used copy but my local store had copies for $40. Why did I only play the campaign? Well…I played on the really really cheap. I had a free game rental from Red Box to use. Perhaps when the game drops to $20 or so, I’ll grab a copy and finish up all the other stuff in it.