Saint Row 4 box art(http://www.saintsrow.com/) Rated M for Mature by ESRB. The 3rd Street Saints are back again, in an even bigger, funnier, and more thrilling game than ever before. When we last left the Saints, they were riding an undisputed crest of international popularity. But now, the Saints have reached whole new heights, since you, the leader of the Saints, are now the President of the United States. However, not soon after you’re elected, there’s an alien invasion! The Zin–giant, red and gruesomely ugly alien–come from a distant galaxy and abduct everyone on Earth, including you (the newly elected President), as well as all of the members of the Saints. They’ve entrapped everyone in virtual simulations of Steelport, and it’s up to you and the few who have managed to escape the Zin imprisonments, to break down their virtual reality simulations and free everyone on the Zin mothership. Your playground is still Steelport, but now it’s a version of Steelport created by the Zin, containing spaceships, evil alien monsters, and alien technology that you can play around with.

Saint Row 4 box artSaint Row 4 logo(http://www.saintsrow.com) Rated M for Mature by ESRB. The 3rd Street Saints are back again, in an even bigger, funnier, and more thrilling game than ever before. When we last left the Saints, they were riding an undisputed crest of international popularity. But now, the Saints have reached whole new heights, since you, the leader of the Saints, are now the President of the United States. However, not soon after you’re elected, there’s an alien invasion! The Zin–giant, red and gruesomely ugly alien–come from a distant galaxy and abduct everyone on Earth, including you (the newly elected President), as well as all of the members of the Saints. They’ve entrapped everyone in virtual simulations of Steelport, and it’s up to you and the few who have managed to escape the Zin imprisonments, to break down their virtual reality simulations and free everyone on the Zin mothership. Your playground is still Steelport, but now it’s a version of Steelport created by the Zin, containing spaceships, evil alien monsters, and alien technology that you can play around with.

 



Presentation:
The new Steelport looks largely the same. It’s still composed of the same districts and areas, but now there are some added spaceships in the sky, along with alien architecture and some new vehicles. However, since this is a virtual simulation, Kenzie (your old pal from Saints Row 3), is able to hack into the simulation, and find some stray bits of code to give you an advantage to better your chances of breaking the simulation and freeing everyone trapped within it. These advantages are given to you in the form of super powers. The game starts you off with both super speed and high jumps, which are both passive abilities. As you progress through the game, you’ll obtain more powers, some of which remain passive, and others that will give you an upper hand in combat. These super powers make Saints Row 4 so much more hectic and fun. It’s unbelievable. The concept at the heart of the game–that it’s up to you to “beat the alien scum and save the Earth”–is full of humor as well. Many returning characters and themes from the previous games (even the first two games) come up in Saints Row 4, which is a nice nod to those long time fans.

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Graphics:
Although Saints Row 4 is a fully fledged new title, the graphics don’t offer much of a leap into the future. This “new” entry has graphics that are very similar to what we last saw in Saints Row 3. Since they weren’t bad to begin with, and since this is the end of a console generation, I didn’t hold very high expectations for stellar graphics from the start of “4” anyhow. I have to admit that the developers added one nice touch with the digital effects that you will see while within the Steelport simulation. For example, instead of calling for a car to be delivered to you, you can just select the car from your phone, and it digitizes right in front of you. Or, while going through menus, you might see the game get “blocky” like a digital glitch too. If you liked the graphics in Saints Row 3, you’ll like these graphics just fine, but don’t expect any serious graphic overhauls. One slight problem I had with the virtual Steelport was that it’s very dark, which makes it look like the game is taking place in the nighttime.The dark colors make the neon and glow much more apparent, but sometimes it would have been a nice break to see a little more daylight in the city.

Sound:
Once again, Saints Row 4 does another top notch job of matching those memorable moments within the game’s campaign with some equally memorable music tracks. I am tempted to describe them, but will put on my gag and not spoil any of those moments, since they’re best-experienced firsthand. Saints Row 4 certainly does not disappoint musically, with the radio stations having a wide variety of songs, offering a range of classic and current hits. One new feature I enjoyed was that the radio can still be played even when you’re not in a car, which made sense since I found myself using my super speed and high jump abilities a lot. Saints Row 4 is also packed with an all-star voice acting cast including (but not limited to) Neil Patrick Harris, Keith David (from Saints Row 1), Terry Crews, and even Nolan North, whom you can select to be the voice of your actual character. The voice acting within the game is superb and plays well off the humorous script writing. Each song that the developers selected for those memorable game moments are in perfect synch with the action, and I tip my hat to them for knowing exactly how to elicit precisely the right mood through their musical selections.

Saint Row 4 screenshots Saint Row 4 screenshots Saint Row 4 screenshots

Gameplay:
Singleplayer
For the most part, Saints Row 4 plays very similarly to Saints Row 3, as it’s the same old song and dance until you get the super powers. The super power aspect of the game almost makes it feel like an improved version of Crackdown. As in Crackdown, you collect orbs which you can use to enhance your powers. In a parallel manner, the same goes for Saints Row 4, but you collect stray pieces of code instead, which can be used to strengthen your super powers. This part of the game is actually very fun, since the pieces of code are on tall buildings. I found myself using the speed run in combination with my high jump to soar from building to building to collect them. The super powers give players a whole new way to play Saints Row, and it’s exhilarating. You can still use guns (which are now more customizable) and vehicles to get around and destroy your enemies if you’re low on stamina, but once your stamina is back to full, you can also opt to freeze-blast your enemies or use your super strength to send them flying off. After collecting bits of code, you will be able to upgrade your powers. After collecting cash, you will be able to upgrade your weapons, and after collecting experience points from missions and side missions you can choose to upgrade your character’s abilities and perks. These enhanced customization options are a welcome addition to Saints Row, which also goes to show how much fun and freedom the game wants the player to have. The game’s campaign will concentrate on your efforts to take down the Zin simulation and free your friends. However, some of those fan favorite side missions also return, (such as tank mayhem), with some additional new side missions that are based around your super powers. One of my favorites was the tower climb. Using your high jump, you can scale incredibly large towers to get to the top to take them under your control. Each of these new additions to Saints Row–especially the super powers–keep the gameplay challenging, fresh and surprisingly funny.

Multiplayer
This time around, Saints Row 4 adds in more co-op features. Not only can you tackle the whole campaign with a friend, but you can also now participate in co-op-only side missions as well. They’ve also added in some competitive modes so that the two of you can battle it out using your super powers, which proves for some action-packed, large scale battles. The focus is still deep into the co-operative experience, however, and is still unfortunately limited to just two players. Co-op play was hugely popular in Saints Row 3, and will remain so in “4”.

Saint Row 4 screenshots Saint Row 4 screenshots Saint Row 4 screenshots

Innovation:
Although the use of super powers–such as super speed and high jumping–in a third person open-world game have been done before in games such as Crackdown, nobody has really made it quite as innovative as Saints Row has. There’s a wide variety of powers offered, which makes choosing which upgrades to select for each power a tough choice, but it does help to provide for a more unique gaming experience for each player within the world of Saints Row 4.

Longevity:
Saints Row 4 provides endless hours of fun whether you’re playing solo, or with a friend online. The campaign is action-packed with pretty memorable moments and the script is very funny and humorous. However, re-using the same city for this new game did make me feel a slightly cheated, but the developers made up for it by introducing some very innovative gameplay features. They packed in all sorts of new weapons and more customization options for your characters, which makes Saints Row 4 all the more enjoyable to play. While there aren’t quite as many memorable characters as there were in Saints Row 3, there are still lots of laughs to be had, as well as lots of alien butt to kick.

Conclusion:
If you enjoyed Saints Row 3, you’ll be very happy with Saints Row 4. New players to the series will likely enjoy the over-the-top action and intriguing gameplay mechanics. The super powers and new customization features are more than enticing enough to persuade old fans and newcomers alike to purchase Saints Row 4. It’s well worth your money; not many games out there will let you obliterate evil aliens, be President of the United States, and be granted super powers, all for the price of admission.

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