Saints Row 4 Review

I am mostly finished with SR4 and it has started to become a slog.  The game never really capitalizes on the promise of liberating itself from the shackles of plausibility.

Most of the complaints about the game seem to be that it a rehash of SR3 that reuses a lot of the same game assets.  But I think the developers did a good job using their mastery of the engine to pump out a sequel in a short time with some new features.  That is after all the appeal of a sequel, similar gameplay and reduced development costs.  I mean they at least tried to change the gameplay with super powers, though I will later question how well they did so.  It’s not like Zelda where every 3D version is essentially the same but you have to wait three years to get a game with last gen graphics at release.

So as you might have heard SR4 is completely over-the-top.  You open up as POTUS taking down terrorist cells with your own hands and then an alien invasion puts you in the Matrix.  This allows them to introduce super powers like super sprinting and gliding.  Surpisingly, they did a very good job with the extra mobility and it is on par with Prototype for joy of just trampling around a city with your god like powers.

The problem is that the killing portion of the game, which is fairly integral to the genre, mostly ignores your powers.  You are still going to be killing people with guns and you might as well not be powered up.  If you super jump you lose the ability to fire until you can land and wait a moment to pull out your gun.  The combat powers have a fairly long recharge and mostly boil down to similar area effect attacks and you can only have one mapped to a key at a time.  You can super sprint into an enemy and do an obnoxiously long cutscene instant kill.  There is just none of the fluidity to combat that I would expect to come from super agility and strength.  Combat is also insultingly easy yet at the same time the enemies have a bit too much health unless you upgrade your guns fully or headshot them.

The point where you realize the developers were in financial difficulties is the paucity of story missions.  Many of the quests are actually just lists of activities for you to do that maybe reward you with a funny piece of dialogue, but usually not.  Some of the new activities are fun, but a few of them are just mighty annoying and I have to grit my teeth through them so I can complete a sidequest.

All that said, the game is legitimately funny at times and plays its over-the-topness well.  For instance, one character uses the computer simulation to reenact a fan fiction he wrote for his favorite TV series.  Or there is the choice at the beginning of the game where you as the POTUS must choose between curing cancer or solving world hunger.  At this point I am mostly playing for these moments, which is rare for a game and at odds with the complete lack of care for plotting.

Considering the development time this is actually fairly impressive.  I just wish that there wasn’t such a clash between the decadent plot and super powers and the mundanity of much of the gameplay.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s