Friday, August 30, 2013
Saints Row IV review - Hail to the Chief
Trying to describe Saints Row 4 is like trying to describe insanity itself, because for all intents and purposes, that's what it is. Imagine a world where anything you want to do is possible, and anything you don't want to do is also possible. Now take that world, toss it in a blender, add some bananas (K?), a few slices of chaos, and a dash of nud-oops, all of the nudity-, sit back and hit frappé. Once this glorious concoction of gleeful violence, murder, and mayhem settles, toss in some elements of The Matrix, any superhero comic/movie, Crackdown, and Prototype, and you've got yourself the newest Saints Row game.
Starting a game by fighting your way through an enemy entrenched stronghold, doing spinning-heel kicks and fancy over the top awesome moves, only to "sacrifice" yourself by jumping onto a launching nuclear missile, scaling it while it's in midair, to yank out and the controls, causing it to harmlessly detonate, sending you plummeting through the ceiling of the White House into the Oval Office where you casually put your feet up on the presidential desk seems like you just used up all of your story and the rest of the game is just boring. Au contraire, it is merely the first 5 minutes of what is sure to be the most wacky game you have ever played.
Crashing through the White House roof seems to be all it takes to become President these days, as your little stunt with the nuclear missile suddenly turns you from a crime lord pop culture icon into the leader of the free world. As you saunter down the hallways of the W.H., surrounded by your Saints Secret Service detail, through the intriguingly chosen decor, one cannot help but admire the rich, bright purple suit you are decked in. For most President's this would look horrible, but not on you, definitely not. The appearance just fits with the character and your memorable background. On your way to a press conference you also get to decide if you're gonna be the guy who solves world hunger, or cures cancer forever. FUCK CANCER!
The absurdity of the superpowers you obtain is what makes them fun. You are basically greater than NEO in the The Matrix. You can't fly, but after obtaining maxed jump and speed which allows you to glide across the entire city, you may as well be.Tearing across the streets like Sonic on LSD is amusing, and jumping over a neighborhood would make Superman jealous. Picking up cars with your mind and throwing fireballs from your hands is just some of the coolest things you've ever done in a video game. You are the single most powerful force in that entire digital world. Unfortunately therein lies the problem that Volition may not have anticipated. The game becomes too easy. Why use a car when you can be like The Flash and just zip around everywhere? Why bother meleeing an enemy when you can just pick them up with your mind and throw them 10 stories into the air? The quests are relatively simple when you can just race up the side of a building and dive bomb the enemies on the ground, killing them all with a localized earthquake. On the flip side is the quests outside of the digital world you control. These missions aren't difficult by any means, but you have become so attached to your abilities, that to not have them makes the quests seem annoying. Easy though it may be, running around with these awesome abilities is some of the most fun I've ever had, reminiscent of swinging around NYC in Spider-man 2.
The game is not all that smooth however. There are some bugs in the game that really should have been dealt with before launch. Visual and audio sometimes glitch out, leading to a desperate strain on your patience during cut-scenes. One glitch set me back about 20 minutes, as the game would not progress. Thankfully it was at the beginning and it merely needed to be restarted from the last checkpoint.
While the game is not exactly perfect, it is a large amount of fun to play. Being an overpowered badass in a world that bows down to the worshiped Saints is an exhilarating rush. The superpowers you obtain in this game are some of the best lineups you could hope for, and even though they make the game almost pathetically easy, they also make it so much more fun. The character customization is a great system as well. Using super jump while looking like the Hulk feels like you're an Avenger, racing around the city dressed as George Washington is hilarious, and combining everything as the Fonz is just the best. It's got some issues, but lack of enjoyment is definitely not one of them.