fri 15/12/2017

Saints Row IV | reviews, news & interviews

Saints Row IV

Saints Row IV

The Grand Theft Auto rip-off series has turned into a brilliantly silly superhero game

'Saints Row IV': Gang warfare and pedestrian smashing has largely been replaced by leaping tall buildings in one bound

The Saints Row series has always been something of a magpie, stealing liberally from other games. It started out as a cheap second-tier Grand Theft Auto clone. But here, it transforms into a very silly, but great fun knockabout superhero game - the most gleefully rampaging fun gameplay you'll see this week.

Trying to summarise the plot of Saints Row IV should give you some sense of exactly how seriously the game takes itself. The members of a street gang, called The Saints, decide to put their gangbanging past behind them and turn their appetite for destruction to good – they take on a terrorist cell, only for the leader of The Saints (that's you, the player) to end up jumping onto a nuke and disarming it mid-air before plummeting back to the Earth to land, literally and figuratively, in the President's chair as a hero.

Saints Row IV completes change from Grand Theft Auto clone to inFamous/Crackdown superhero action gameFive years later, with you as President in a White House now fitted with stripper poles, you're about to start a press conference when an alien overlord, Zinyak, teleports in, kidnaps you and your cabinet of Saints, and declares war on Earth. You wake up to find yourself locked into a Matrix-like virtual reality world created by Zinyak to torture you.

Soon, it becomes clear that your job is to create as much mayhem in this simulation of your old gang-torn city as possible. And the more mayhem you create, the more superpowers you get. Pretty soon, you can leap tall buildings in a single bound, turn enemies to ice and run superfast etc. In doing so, Saints Row IV effortlessly twists from silly freeroaming gang-banger to silly freeroaming superhero action-adventure. It riffs freely off other game series such as inFamous and Crackdown. And it mocks videogames and videogame cliches left, right and centre.

The end result is a game where you still get to run over pedestrians by the thousand, transform your character into the most ludicrously decked-out, cross-dressing fool you want to, and shoot stuff with an amazing array of weaponry for fun. Only there's none of the attempt to give the story a moral backbone as Grand Theft Auto does; and there's none of the moral dissonance that creates as your gangster-striving-for-success character then decides to go on a rampage in a shopping mall with a sword.

Saints Row IV completes change from Grand Theft Auto clone to inFamous/Crackdown superhero action gameThis is a videogame, inside a videogame. Those aren't real pedestrians you're running over, they're binary code. And those cops you're shooting to bits, they're alien software out to get you. So, hey, why not shoot them with a ludicrous dubstep-sounding portable black hole gun? And while you're at it, take a bazooka to the nearest tank, or run about naked apart from a tutu swapping crude chat-up lines with your gang associates? And brilliantly, Saints Row IV lets you dress and cross-dress how you want, be either gender and have sex with both genders – it's polymorphously silly.

Gleeful, idiotic and over-the-top – Saints Row IV doesn't deliver depth in story. But in chaotic gameplay terms it's an absolute blast.

Those cops you're shooting, they're alien software out to get you. So why not shoot them with a ludicrous dubstep-sounding portable black hole gun?

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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