|Release||Aug 20, 2013|
|Genres||Action, Third-Person Shooter, Sandbox|
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Saints Row IV is a new standalone expansion for Saints Row: The Third. It makes some changes to the city and mechanics of the base game. A few buildings and some stoplights have been replaced with more alien-looking structures. The cops have been replaced by aliens. The superpowers that you could unlock as cheats in the base game are now abilities that you unlock as part of playing the expansion. Various cool new weapons have been added. A small handful of new wardrobe pieces were added. A couple new characters were added. Many new minigame challenges have been added. New sets of collectibles have been added for you to explore and find. The overall look and feel of the game was altered to make it seem more like The Matrix. It has a plot, but it mostly consists of making up reasons for you to go through and do all of the new minigame challenges one by one. Lastly, it adds an alien ship that you run around on in place of all of your safe houses. That's about it.
Almost everything added Saints Row IV is just a parody of something else. That's a nice way of saying that they just took other people's ideas to save money on creative costs. The superpowers pretty much just turn you into Alex Mercer from Prototype. The aliens who serve as the game's antagonists put you and most of the rest of humanity into a simulated world that is literally The Matrix. The ship you walk around on when you are outside of the simulation, while obviously analogous to the Nebuchadnezzar in The Matrix, is also a parody of Mass Effect with regard to the clothing and the fact that you can "romance" crew members. Everything else is exactly the same as in Saints Row: The Third.
Speaking of saving money, they also didn't bother to make a new city. After wandering around a couple new places for a while, Saints Row IV puts you right back in Steelport. It's a "simulated" Steelport designed by the main antagonist alien, so it has random alien crap around, but those differences are minor. Most other new places are very lackluster, with the low-resolution computer graphics style seen in the Decker gang quests in Saints Row: The Third. Some look a little nicer, but either way, they are only available for a couple missions, then you never see them again.
One thing that's not the same as in Saints Row: The Third is the notoriety system. Saints Row IV completely ruins it. Half the fun of every past GTA and Saint's Row game is gaining full notoriety and running around with tons of enemies trying to kill you. That element is now gone. Notoriety in this game not only goes up so fast that you barely have time to kill ten aliens, but once it hits maximum, all enemies disappear except for a single boss called a warden. The warden is not in any way challenging or fun to kill. Once you kill him, your notoriety resets back to zero. Yeah, have fun with that.
Also, the game seems to be very inconsistent in giving credit to both players when quests are done. Usually you will both get credit, but every once in a while, you won't. Be on the lookout for this.
On a side note, my co-op partner did not take kindly to Saints Row IV being called an expansion just because it was in the same city. The addition of superpowers "completely changes the way you play the game". Cars are pointless except as toys for you to fling around with telekinesis. You spend a lot of time climbing buildings. Really though, I wouldn't call that a complete change to the way you play the game. It is a minor change - a drastic streamlining at best. Cars were replaced with running; flying vehicles were replaced with air dashing. It is that simple. You can literally look at it as "hold the shift key to enter a fast car" and "hold the shift key in air to enter a plane". Other than that, the way you play the game is exactly the same as in Saints Row: The Third. The other superpowers are no more involved than new, really crappy guns. Personally, I think driving cars and planes was much more fun. Especially since fully upgrading your super sprint power will occasionally cause cars next to you to explode, sending you into "oh no, I'm on fire" mode. Pretty ridiculous that there's no buff to give you immunity to that.
Either way, all that just makes Saints Row IV a superpower sandbox. I wouldn't call that a full game. If it had a full-length storyline, then maybe it could be called a full game. I'm actually not sure I agree with that assertion, but either way, the storyline was not very long. In my mind, if it could have been an expansion, then it doesn't deserve to be called anything but an expansion, just because you buy it separately for the price of a full game. Hell, all sources seem to indicate that this game was supposed to just be a DLC for Saints Row: The Third in the first place, prior to THQ's downfall. It only became a full game when Deep Silver took over. That's probably because the new publisher figured they could get a lot more money by tricking fans into buying this expansion for a full-game price, and all they had to do was just call it a full game. I imagine the profit margins on this game are going to be pretty massive, as I can't believe very much money went into it. One thing we agree on is that this game is not worth the $50 asking price on release.
The bottom line is we spent barely one-third the amount of time playing Saints Row IV that we spent playing Saint's Row: The Third. Granted, the previous game has the benefit of multiple DLCs to keep it lasting longer, but I would honestly rather play new DLCs for Saint's Row: The Third than for Saints Row IV. It's a fun game, but it gets old fast. It is a standalone expansion; there is simply no way around that fact. So, do not spend more on it than you would on any other expansion. We made the mistake of pre-purchasing it, thinking that it would be worth it. We should have remembered the fact that all modern games are basically scams, and trying to get in on them when they first come out is how they get you. Remember kids, slow and steady wins the race. Wait for games to go on sale. Or, you know, that other thing...
In conclusion, Saints Row IV is pretty fun, just like Saints Row: The Third. However, it should not be considered its own game, because it offers nothing more than a typical expansion. If you haven't played either game, it's hard to say which one to buy. The previous game definitely feels like a more complete game and a fuller experience. Saints Row IV is pretty much just a sandbox where you dick around with superpowers. Considering you can already do that to a lesser degree with cheats in the previous game, I guess I'd have to recommended only getting Saints Row: The Third if you don't want to buy both. If you do want to buy both, I recommend waiting for a Steam sale.Posted by Nick on Aug 24, 2013. Last updated on Sep 14, 2013.