Think of a popular third person sandbox game such as Grand Theft Auto. Remove the missions that are grounded in reality such as stealing cars and robbing banks, then replace them with missions such as committing as much vandalism to a city as possible, jumping in front of traffic, spraying buildings with sewage & streaking and you’ll end up with ‘Saints Row’. If that wasn’t enough then take the previous entry to the series, modify it to within an inch of its life incorporating aliens, space travel & super powers, then bundle in all the previous DLC and you end up with a glorious package known as ‘Saint Row IV: Re-Elected’.
The Story So Far (contains mild series spoilers)…
Up to this point in the series your custom protagonist has become the leader of a street gang known as ‘The Third Street Saints’. After decimating rival gangs and corrupt corporations the Saints have become celebrity icons with their own clothing brands, energy drinks and TV shows.
Saints Row IV begins with the gang heading out into the desert seeking one of the antagonists from ‘Saints Row: The Third’ named Cyrus Temple. On storming his military base Cyrus launches a nuke which our hero bravely disarms, this in turn earns him / her the admiration and trust of the American people who elect the gang’s leader as president of the United States. This term in office is short lived as during your presidency the earth gets invaded by a militia of hostile aliens. They abduct the smartest and strongest human specimens that they can lay their hands on and imprison the president in a computer simulation of a 1950s style American sitcom. Your mission is to break out of the simulation, rescue the surviving members of your gang and find a way to overthrow these alien overlords.
Yes, this game is completely insane! If I’m honest that is one of the main reasons that I like it. When I originally encountered the series back in 2008 it was this sort of wacky, off the wall story & game play that appealed to me and since then each installment has become crazier and crazier. Madness aside for a second, SRIV is a very addictive game. It includes a sequence of fun story driven main missions, tons of optional additional activities to earn experience points, upgrades & cash, and challenges to unlock additional achievements.
The main missions that progress through the story usually revolve around saving crew members from the simulation. Saving each crew member often involves engaging in a variety of different play styles and completing parodies of other popular games. For example, there are missions which involve playing a crude text adventure, some that include Atari style ‘Combat’ challenges, arcade style ‘beat em up’ missions and a ‘Metal Gear Solid’ style stealth segment.
In addition to the various game parodies SRIV also pays homage to significant moments, characters & missions that have appeared throughout the series. The simulation allows the protagonist to delve into his / her past and relive various moments from the Saints history (occasionally incorporating new and disturbing twists). This is great if you’re a fan but may alienate new players. If you are new to the series then SRIV may not be the best place to start.
Optional activities can be accessed from points on the main map and range from throwing yourself into traffic during ‘Insurance Fraud’, destroying property in ‘Mayhem’ and throwing people & cars through hoops using the only power of your mind in ‘Mind Over Murder’. Many of these activities are not compulsory for beating the story however they do lead to experience points and bonuses to make the president stronger and more powerful.
This game (like all the entries in the series) handles and controls with incredibly comfort. The left analogue stick is used for movement while the right is used for free aim. The triggers are used to zoom in & fire your weapons while the face buttons are used in interact with the environment and access you weapon wheel.
Like in previous titles the controls are also really comfortable when driving vehicles. However this isn’t particularly important in this edition as the latest twist in SRIV is the use of super powers (something that had been experimented with briefly in a DLC episode of ‘Saints Row: The Third’). As the president is playing the game in a virtual simulation he / she can develop powers which can make them run faster than cars, jump so high that they can leap from one island to another, run vertically up skyscrapers and glide over vast areas of the map. The abilities that can be earned here are so overpowering that vehicles become obsolete and you’re now playing Saints Row by a completely new set of rules.
In addition to the special new movement abilities there are a selection of attacks & elemental powers such as ice / fire balls, earth shattering stomps and one of my personal favorites, ‘telekinesis’. When being attacked by an angry mob of aliens you can now either use conventional weapons or use the power of the mind to launch a lorry at them!
Speaking of weapons SRIV has all the goodies from the previous titles such as SMGs, shotguns, assault rifles and rocket launchers, but that’s not all as there’s also some fun new alien hardware to boot. Of all the weapons in SRIV my personal favorite is the new Dubstep gun which fires waves of thumping dubstep music at your foes. You can carry up to seven weapons at any one time (one from each category) and your set up can be changes by accessing your weapon cabinet in one of the many ammo stores. Between the weapons and the super powers it won’t take long before the president is a force to be reckoned with in this virtual world.
The graphics although competent are nothing particularly breathtaking. I haven’t noticed a significant improvement in the details since Saints Row 2. As this edition is available on the latest generation of console it would have been nice to see a Saints Row game which looked a bit more polished compared to other high end titles such as ‘Assassins Creed: Black Flag’ or ‘The Last Of Us’. Despite this I can forgive SRIV’s graphical shortcomings for two reasons…
1) Because of the intense speeds that you can travel around the map a higher standard of graphics would more than likely have had counterproductive effects on the games performance.
2) This game takes place in a grim, nightmarish alternative version of a city that was already used in a previous game. I doubt it really would have been worth the time and resources in making it look more realistic. In the case of GTA V where you can drive around in the blazing sunshine surrounded by beautiful terrain the effort it took to re-master the graphics was well worth it. I doubt the same could be said about this dark virtual rendering of a grim & mostly urban environment.
The game still sounds as good as ever with fully scripted cut scenes & in game dialogue from a very professional voice over cast including talents such as Terry Crews & Neil Patrick Harris. Our custom character has the usual option of the 3 male voices (I personally love the British guy), and 3 female voices. As a bonus Saint’s Row IV now includes an all new forth male voice in the form of prolific voiceover actor ‘Nolan North’.
The sound effects are convincing and just like in the previous entries there is a nice slate of commercial songs. As you won’t be driving so much in this game the radio can now be turned on at will, regardless of if you’re in a car or not. Saints Row has always had many great musical moments throughout the series where characters would start singing along to certain songs or particular pieces will play during specific moments of game play. Having said this SRIV has done the best job in this regard. Little touches like Areosmith’s ‘Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’ playing while disarming a nuke or ‘What Is Love’ by Haddaway playing during the space flight stage really are a thing of beauty to behold.
Saints Row IV isn’t a particularly difficult game to beat (there are three levels of difficulty to cater for mixed ability players), but with so many side missions and collectables to grab I’d estimate that there is at least 20 to 30 hours of enjoyment to be had here. Post story some players may find that there’s too much grinding to be done to beat all the challenges, but I tend to find that by the time I need to begin the cleaning up I have so many upgrades that this chore becomes a joy anyway.
For any fans of the series wondering what ‘Re-elected’ has over the vanilla version of ‘Saints Row IV’ the answer is disappointingly ‘not much’. I’ve played the original version for 40+ hours and this new ‘Re-elected’ version for 20+ and without doing a side by side comparison I haven’t really noticed any graphical improvements or new features that weren’t available in the original.
The only improvement I’ve noticed was that in the original version there was an occasional bug that caused my character to shake violently when gliding. It didn’t happen very often and it wasn’t anything game breaking, however this little glitch appears to have been ironed out of this new version.
The only additional feature I’ve noticed is that a ton of previously available DLC is now included on the disc. Much of this DLC is superfluous such as cars that you’ll never need to drive, some additional weapons & costumes, but the highlight here has to be the two additional mission packs.
Included for the first time on the game’s disc is ‘Enter The Dominatrix’ which is a selection of missions from the cut Saints Row stand alone title which eventually became Saint’s Row IV. It includes many mocumentary style cut scenes with characters from the game breaking the forth wall and concept art. However the highlight for me was ‘How The Saints Saved Christmas’, which is a festive set of missions where you and the gang assist Santa in saving Christmas by delivering presents from Santa’s sleigh, having a Scrooged style shoot out at the north pole, and killing an army of ginger bread men and giant elves.
Given the crazy, high energy, overblown nature of Saints Row you are almost certainly going to encounter a few bugs and oddities here and there. I distinctly remember dashing to my car during an early mission (before any super powers had been enabled) and found that a NPC was standing straight through the trunk. Little issues like this are hardly game breaking however unfortunately as I’ve come to expect with Saints Row this game did crash a couple of times. The first time the game simply exited to the PS4 menu and asked me if I wanted to log an error report. The second time I was not so lucky as the game crashed the console completely and I had to resort to unplugging it from the wall to shut it off. These crashes seemed to happen at random intervals with nothing obvious triggering them. It’s unfortunate that I’ve come to expect these occasional indiscretions throughout the series, but given the size & scope of the game coupled with the fact that these occurrences are infrequent they do not put me off playing them.
Overall, Saints Row IV is the most bizarre and entertaining edition from this incredible series. It doesn’t take itself in the least bit seriously, so if you’re after some shameless action, destruction and all out mayhem then this is a title I would highly recommend. If you’ve already bought the vanilla Saint’s Row IV then do not expect anything special from the Re-elected edition unless you’d like to own a physical copy of the DLC.
Saints Row IV Re-elected is available on PS4 and XBox One as part of a twin pack along with ‘Saints Row: Gat Out Of Hell’. Although all the content for ‘Saints Row IV Re-elected’ is included on the disc ‘Gat Out Of Hell’ is not. The ‘Gat Out Of Hell’ content is only included as a download code and the game itself is around 7GB in size. If you already own ‘Saint’s Row IV’ and would prefer a physical copy of ‘Gat Out Of Hell’ then discs are available for PS3 and Xbox 360.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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