Saints Row IV ReviewGuest_Jim_* - August 28, 2013
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In prior Saints Row games, you were a gang leader trying to dominate the city you are in by crushing other gangs. In Saints Row IV though, you are the President of the United States, and instead of having multiple gangs to face, you just have the alien Zin Empire to defeat. When the empire invaded Earth, they took you and other members of the Saints gang prisoner, trapping them within simulations meant to break their will. Of course your response is to break the simulation, which does not go over particularly well with Emperor Zinyak. In response he throws you into a new prison, modeled after Steelport, but he makes multiple changes to demonstrate his dominance over the simulation. With a computer genius like Kinzie Kensington on your side though, the simulation becomes less a prison and more a playground as you acquire superpowers (super user powers?).
The main story is pretty straight forward, with your antics in the simulation eventually enabling you to face Zinyak in reality. Of course there is a twist here and there, along with a fair amount of fourth-wall breaking, before reaching the end, but I would not say there is a great deal of depth to the main story. Instead it is the character exploration that has the more interesting plots. The other characters were trapped within simulations of their greatest fears, and as you rescue them you learn more about how they think and why they do what they do. You are also able to go on loyalty missions, which explore the characters even more, while also granting your friends superpowers, for when you call on them to help you in the simulation. Through collectible text-based adventures, some interactions, and the classical-music radio station you also learn about Zinyak. It turns out he is a student of humanity’s arts, so he comments on the classical music and even performs readings of classical literature from that radio station.
I should probably also mention that the story contains numerous references to other media, including prior Saints Row games and pop-culture. The references to the previous games are given some context within this one, for those that have not played them, but the references will just make more sense and be more meaningful if you have played the games already. The pop-culture references, though, require less explanation. I have spotted some from Star Wars, Star Trek, Robocop, Ghostbusters, Men in Black, The Matrix, and Leave It To Beaver, amongst others. Quite possibly there are more I simply did not pick up on or have not seen yet.
Not the greatest campaign story, but it and the character exploration explains everything and motivates you to keep playing. Actually billions of reasons, but that could be a spoiler. Where it really excels is with the interactions with other characters, as you do missions with them, talk to them, and have sex with them… including the robot. Also, the game has two endings, with the second only being shown if you complete all loyalty missions first. This ending, however, does not include the content of the other, so to see both you will have to beat the game twice. This is not difficult; just save near the end with at least one loyalty mission left to play, beat the game, reload the save, beat the loyalty mission, and then beat the game.