Every now and again, a sequel comes out that disappoints. The best way to create a sequel is to bring what is familiar and worked from the previous instance and grow on it. Some developers get the hang of this, others not so much, which is where you get Kane and Lynch 2.
Saints Row 4 is the perfect example of fixing what is broken and adding more to it, after the disappointing Saints Row The Third, Volition and Deep Silver have listened to the fans, picked up everything that hasn’t worked, and polished the entire thing into what is going to be one of the games of the year.
For the uninitiated of you, the Saints Row series has become one of the most globally known franchises as some of the most enjoyable crime based sandbox games around. This time around the Saints are set in a virtual simulation, after an alien invasion has left our protagonists fighting against the alien force known as the Zin by destroying the simulation from the inside out. To this end you embark on an epic story through time, space, and even cyberspace worthy of any AAA title. This journey spans all four games in the Saints Row series, seeing old and new friends, celebrity cameos, and homages to new and old movies, everything you can think of is in this game.
Gameplay consists of third person action with some fantastic set pieces, across a range of great locales from cyberspace to actual space to city landscapes, all in an effort to destroy the Zin simulation. The games virtual simulation setting allows for anything at all, allowing the developers to have your character pay homage to The Matrix, and even a Metal Gear themed level, with your character donning an eye patch and sneaking suit to take on his evil program twin. To go along with this simulation theme, your character now as access to a range of super powers, use of these allows your character true freedom in this sandbox, the ability to glide, run up walls, across water, anything you can think of for both movement, defensive, and offensive purposes can be done.
One of the best things about this series is customisation, and Saints Row 4 does not disappoint here, if you can dream it, you can create it. Want to create yourself and go all these crazy missions? You can go for it and create a true to life version of yourself (or if you’re anything like me, a more muscular version of yourself.) to go wild with. Or alternatively, you can go on your missions as a 4 foot tall 200 pound chrome coloured fat woman wearing a top hat and high heels. The essence of a sandbox is freedom of choice, and that is something that this series does to perfection. On top of this is a range of weapon upgrades and paint jobs to suit your play style and bring even more diversity to this play, and a huge range of fully customisable vehicles from the tyre profiles to the spoilers on them, it really is your choice on how everything goes in this game.
Visually speaking the game does the best it can, while it is not on the level of something like Crysis, Saints Row 4 is still visually diverse and pretty, serving its purpose brilliantly and framed by an epic score. The music in this game is brilliant, with the ability to listen to music in game anytime, not just while in vehicles, make for a more enjoyable experience, and the voice in the game is spot on, with the brilliant performance by the super villain Zinyak stealing the show with his sinister gentlemanly villain voice.
Now with everything positive we have said about the game, not everything is perfect. The side missions, while useful in their currency generation and the way you can unlock some additional weapons, can feel repetitive at times. During some of the more hectic battles, the camera is more your enemy than the Zin, and additionally, on average difficulty, the game is a little too easy, so we would definitely recommend bumping it up to Hardcore difficulty right off the bat to really get your money’s worth.
But all of those little inconsistencies do not take away from the game as a whole. With a badass story, tons of variation in both the main story and the sandbox when you want to just have some fun, high levels of customisation and co-op play. Saints Row is back on top, and Saints Row 4 is in our opinion one of the games of the year. GTA V is going to have to pull out some serious stops to be as fun and wild as this game has been, it’s a gaming experience with variation, fun, and throughout your play of it, you can tell that there has been some serious love put into this too. Pick this up; it deserves a place in any collection.