Up Up Down Down: Saints Row 4
It's very likely that when a lot of people played Saints Row: The Third, they immediately wondered what the heck Volition could do to follow up with a sequel. That's exactly what I thought, and never did I imagine that said sequel would turn out like Saints Row 4. Simply put, this latest entry in the series is absolutely insane, and if there are still people out there slandering the good name of Saints Row by calling this series a Grand Theft Auto also-ran, they really need to educate themselves on this series and actually play these last two games.
This time on Up Up Down Down we're going to step into the wild virtual world of Saints Row 4 and discuss the awesome and not-so-awesome things that make up the deliciously nonsensical adventure.
Up Up: More of the same
I clocked in just over 100 hours into Saints Row: The Third. That includes beating the campaign once by myself, once with a buddy in co-op mode, playing through the three DLC packs, clearing every side mission, earning every Trophy, and just messing around. To be quite honest, the only reason I didn't spend more time playing was because responsibility crept up on me and I realized I needed to play other games, too. Saints Row 4 gives you another reason to engage in that same brand of dumb craziness that was so brilliant and addictive in Saints Row: The Third. If you wanted more destruction, nudity, comedy, and jiggle physics, that's exactly what you get.
Down Down: More of the same
Of course, if you were hoping for a lot of evolution and innovation, you might be a tad disappointed to find out that Saints Row 4 doesn't push the envelope too much. While there are plenty of new missions and side quests available, the core experience is deeply rooted in the hijinks that you probably already became highly familiar with before. More of the same doesn't exactly make for a terrible experience, but if, unlike me, you got your fill the last time, then you might not be too stoked about the lack of advancements.
Up Up: Even more wholesome absurdity
Saints Row 4 may deliver a lot of what became instantly enjoyable in its predecessor, but it also packs in even more absurdity to boot. The game is literally bursting with stupidly (and amazingly) rad things to do. You can jump to insane heights, run faster than cars, and freeze enemies. It's almost as if you're playing with all of these great cheats enabled, but you're not; this is the way the game is meant to be played. In essence, you get all of the “holy sh*t” moments that cheats would create without that lingering feeling that you're playing the wrong way.
Down Down: Not as novel this time around
While there's plenty of new wackiness to keep you enthralled, it's hard to shake the feeling that the series did a lot of this before. That's not a bad thing, because Saints Row 4 does a great job of sucking you into its jolly world, but if you invested some solid hours into the previous game, you'll notice that the novelty isn't as strong in this game. There's still plenty that's novel, but it's definitely not as impactful as it was in Saints Row: The Third.
Up Up: So much to do
Aside from just running around, freezing people, and creating chaos, Saints Row 4 also boasts loads of side missions. These are highly reminiscent of the extra objectives found in the previous game, but they're mostly new and require you to perform different tasks such as racing through fake Steelport on foot, using telekinetic powers to toss cars and people through rings for points, and shooting everything with a black hole gun to see how much property damage you can accrue. Returning favorites include battling waves of bad guys and ragdolling in front of cars to collect insurance cash. There are also collectibles, some which you just need to seek out and others that act as upgrades if you snag enough of them.
Down Down: Some extra activities can get tedious
Due to the fact that each side mission comes with multiple rounds, you may tire of your least favorites. Additionally, earning gold medals on everything requires that you play almost flawlessly, so if you're desperately hoping for bragging rights, expect to spend a lot of time playing through these side quests. Some of these optional missions grant you upgrades, which is undoubtedly cool, but if you're not fond of the whole do-extra-things-for-awesome-prizes deal, you may grow weary of playing through them.
Up Up: The return of glorious two-player co-op
Some of the most fun I had with Saints Row: The Third was during my co-op run. A buddy and I were always more than happy to wreak havoc across the streets of Steelport. That same level of raucous tomfoolery is back, and really, everyone should play Saints Row 4 with a friend. There's no local co-op component, but if you and a pal grab a copy of the game each, you can engage in some blissful destruction all over fake Steelport. Seriously, it's just as fun as it was the last time, if not more (because super powers, man).
Down Down: Kind of straddles the line between sequel and expansion
Take nothing away from the sheer fun factor of Saints Row 4 — this game really is as great as it looks. That said, there were many times where I felt as if I was playing an expansion more than a completely original game. Granted if it was an expansion, it would be one with over 20 hours of gameplay if you count the campaign and all of the extra things there are to do. Still, the fake Steelport setting, reused animations and graphics, recycled physics, and other returning elements and themes kind of make the whole experience seem like less of its own thing and more a part of Saints Row: The Third.
Left Right Left Right: Saints Row 4 is a big ball of happiness
If you played Saints Row: The Third, you already know whether Saints Row 4 is for you. The game, much like the title that came before it, is just a ton of fun to play. I find it almost comforting that Volition has not only created something with an actual plot in it, but also an experience that delivers the utmost catharsis and just persistently rewards you every few minutes that you're playing, be it with a new power-up, worthwhile upgrade, cash, or weird environmental occurrence. Saints Row 4 will make you smile, laugh, and shout, “F*ck yeah!” More importantly, though, this game will just make you really, really happy.
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