Saints Row IV ReviewGuest_Jim_* - August 28, 2013
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Saints Row IV spawned from an idea for a DLC for Saints Row: The Third. I mention this here because the engine appears to be the same for both games, and this game's origin may help explain that. Of course in the past two years the developers have made some tweaks, but these changes are not always that noticeable. Indeed most of the changes concern gameplay, but that is another section.
Being an open-world game, the graphics are not the most detailed you will find in a modern game because of how much is loaded at a single time, and a lot is. The draw distance is pretty large, and definitely larger than that of the previous title, with multiple square kilometers being laid out around you when you are up high enough to see it. On the ground though, you will be able to see the pavement and some car panels reflecting the lights of the environment. Also you have some very nice volumetric lighting caused by explosions and fog; mostly the former.
Explosions are definitely beautiful to watch in this game, making you want to cause as many of them as possible. This time there are also different kinds of explosions. Of course you still have exploding rockets and vehicles, but you also have shotgun blasts that shoot out particles upon striking an opponent, the dark explosion from the singularity launcher, and the Dubstep Gun. Not entirely sure how to describe the Dubstep Gun's explosions, other than bright and filled with colorful particles. There are also some nice graphical touches, such as blinking directionals on your vehicles, if you are following a path and are coming to a turn. Because the game primarily takes place within a virtual world, there are graphical glitches that occur quite often, such as objects pixelating, reminding you of the false-world you are in.
Along with these beautiful graphics are some dated ones, from 8-bit gameplay segments, and one classic side-scroller beat-em-up. When applicable, your customized character is recreated in these other graphical styles. Cinematics are also rendered using your customized character, and selected personality, so what you create is everywhere for you to enjoy.
Here are my computer's specs so we can start talking about performance:
- Processor: AMD A10-5800K @ 4.40 GHz (44.0x100)
- Cooling: Corsair H110
- Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M PRO
- GPU: EVGA GTX 570 1280 MB
- PhysX: MSI GTS 250 1 GB
- G.Skill Ripjaws 4x8 GB (32 GB total) at 1866 MHz 10-10-10-27
- PSU: OCZ Fata1ty 750 W
- OS: Windows 7- Professional 64-bit
With this build I was able to run the game at maximum settings, in a borderless window, at my monitor's native 2048x1152 resolution at 60 FPS, or at least near it. At times I did notice some micro-stuttering, as though it were dropping some frames, but there was never a serious performance hit. The only actual graphical bug I have noticed is occasionally facial animations will not occur when a character is speaking. There are also instances of clothing clipping through bodies, but generally I forgive games those (except for games that are supposed to offer the very best graphical experiences, but this is not one of those).
The audio follows a similar formula to previous games, with most music being delivered by radio stations, or a mix tape you put together. Occasionally specific pieces are played, depending on the situation, such as a particularly tense mission. As you are a character within a virtual world, the radio can be played all of the time, and not just when you are within a vehicle. Personally I found the radio to be somewhat quiet, compared to the sound effects, at least for the classical channel. Naturally I turned up the music volume, which helped, but then the music that plays at specific times was also louder, almost to the point of drowning out other sounds. I did not notice any volume issue with other radio stations.
Naturally the music and other sound effects are drowned out by the Dubstep Gun, which plays its own music over the worlds.
One audio bug I have noticed is that after loading up a saved game, an audio log will be playing. When this happens, there is nothing you can do but wait for it to finish. Also during battles with the simulation’s wardens, the audio of the warden and myself will become muted. Finishing the battle restores the audio though.
Something I have noticed in multiple games, but never as much as in this game, is a discontinuity between subtitles and what is actually said. Normally what I will see in a game is a word being pronounced differently, or simply being replaced by a synonym. In Saints Row IV though, the subtitles and spoken words can be completely different. Perhaps it is my human preference for my sense of hearing, but I found the spoken lines to typically be more entertaining than what I read on the screen.