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October 15, 2013
Saints Row IV - PS3 Review
Release Distributer Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
19/9/2013All InteractiveDeep SilverVolition Inc12
Media HDD Install Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating
Disc4200MB720pNoNoMA15+

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Saint's Row IV sees you as the President!
One of my favourite franchises in recent years has been Volition's Saints Row which is now up to its fourth iteration with Saints Row IV. Of course comparisons to Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto are a given - both are open-world games based around criminals with similar gameplay mechanics between both titles. To us, Rockstar's title has always had that little extra spit and polish while Volitions Saints Row always seems to get the edge in humour, crudeness and wackiness. Does the trend continue with this latest release?

In Saints Row IV, the head honcho of the Saints has been elected to the Presidency of the United States however this path takes a dramatic turn when the White House is invaded by aliens and the planet Earth is destroyed. Fortunately the Saints crew has been transferred into a bizarre Steelport virtual reality simulation. Fortunately for the President this virtual world also allows him to gain super powers in the fight to free humanity from Zinyak's grasp.

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This game is as whacky as expected.
Saints Row IV is an open-world action title, but where the original games were rooted in real world gangs, this fourth game takes the franchise in a whole new, superpower enabled, alien level. With the majority of the game taking place within a virtual reality simulation your character, which can be fully customised in appearance including clothing, physique and tattoos, has superpowers which include superfast sprinting, massive jumps, telekinesis (where you can pick up objects and throw them) and several others. These superpowers are critical during battles, and Volition have done a good job to integrate these into the main game.

It's not just your characters superpowers that are a bit "out there" with the weapons on offer also ranging from normal pistols, assault rifles, sniper rifles, shotguns and rocket launchers to more unique alien weaponry including the Abduction Gun, Dubstep Gun, Lasergun Arm, Bounce Rifle, Alien Pistol, Black Hole Launcher, and Disintegrator. No matter which weapon you select they are always entertaining, and each can also be upgraded in terms of damage, reload speed or special abilities.

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Saints Row IV introduces superpowers.
While the main campaign will keep you playing for a considerable amount of time we guarantee you spend even more time playing the numerous Activities littered around the city of Steelport. These Activities include Professor Genki's MOM (Mind Over Murder), Mayhem (be it Tank, Mech Suit, UFO or Telekenesis), Blazin, Rifts (Platforming, Speed or Telekinesis), or Fight Club. There are several versions of these activities around the map with a Gold, Silver or Bronze medal awarded depending on your performance.

There are some other elements to this game too. In order to access the stores (gun shops, clothing, tattoos) you will need to hack the security system with a small mini-game, fail within the time limit though and enemies will come swarming. Virus Injections will see you taking on waves of enemies while other objectives will see you stealing a vehicle and returning it to a designated point. Finally the game also has collectable audio logs, and also sees you collecting hundreds of blue "clusters" which are littered all over the map - by collecting these you can upgrade your character, or gangs abilities. It's just such a joy to jump high into the air, spot a cluster below and then glide down towards it.

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Might want something better to hide behind.
Good news for fans of the game too with the developers planning plenty of DLC with the first being an expansion called "Enter The Dominatrix". This expansion was actually planned for the previous game but when THQ hit financial troubles before collapsing it was rolled into Saints Row IV. That first expansion is due within a couple of weeks, and will be followed by several more packs including "How the Saints Saved Christmas" which is a Christmas themed pack due for the Holiday season.

What I love most about Saints Row IV are the references to other games, films and books with nods to Star Wars, Mass Effect 3, Star Trek, Streets of Rage, Predator, Hackers, Pride and Prejudice, The Matrix, Armageddon, Tron, The Terminator, The Truman Show and Minecraft among dozens of others. One of the missions sees you infiltrating an enemy base with stealth, you need to shoot the lights, but when you alert the guards the game makes the same noise from an alerted guard in Metal Gear Solid and puts an exclamation mark above his head. It's hilarious, but only gets better when you find a cardboard box!

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Shooting down some alien spaceships!
Of course this game is pretty funny with plenty of low-brow humour. Even in the opening minutes of the game you, as the President, will be walking through the White House corridors, get harassed by someone and have two options "Punch a Dickhead" or "Punch a Dick In The Head". As you progress through the game you can "Romance" any of your gang members, the funniest being CID, the floating droid, after he mentions he's well versed in pleasure before drifting off the bottom of the screen and making several R2-D2 styled beeps and squeals. Again, low-brow, but hilarious.

As we mentioned in the preview, if you've been following the games press, or indeed Futuregamez, you would be aware that Saints Row IV was originally Refused Classification in Australia meaning it could not be sold in its original form with the Classification Board's issue revolving around the "Alien Anal Probe" which pushed the sexual content, but more so due to a mission where drugs were used to give the player improved powers and abilities (having performance enhancing drugs as a reward in a game is a big no-no in Australia).

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Ummm, yes, Saints Row IV gets weird!
Fortunately for Australian gamers the game was re-submitted with confirmation that Deep Silver and AIE are pleased to report that the Australian Classification Board has now approved Saints Row IV for sale. They have granted the game an MA15+ rating. To achieve this rating one loyalty mission featuring the character Shaundi has been removed. This mission has been widely reported on and contains the use of alien narcotics to obtain certain superpowers. This mission represents approximately 20 minutes of gameplay out of the hours available to purchasers. Needless to say this does indeed represent a very small, non-compulsory mission to the main game and shouldn't affect your decision to buy this game - although if you want to play online with overseas friends the following might give you food for thought.

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No, this isn't a game for youngsters.
Saints Row IV doesn't actually include any competitive multiplayer modes which is somewhat disappointing in this day and age. What the game does include, however, is a drop-in/drop-out co-op experience so you can play through the campaign with a friend. Unfortunately Volition have confirmed that due to the edits made to the Australian version of the game we will not be able to join overseas gamers so bear that in mind.

Visually Saints Row IV isn't as polished as some games (I'm looking at Rockstar's GTAV in particular), however with such a large open-world environment the developers have done a good job in creating a city environment that looks alive, detailed and explorable. Using the same engine that powered Saints Row: The Third the game moves at a pretty brisk pace and has seen an engine upgrade to deal with your characters superpowers including super-fast sprinting, massive jumps and telekinesis among others. Naturally the world is also filled with effects such as explosions, smoke, fire, lasers (from the Dub-Step gun!) and much more and while the enemy design isn't terribly varied - many of the aliens look the same - they get the job done. Another minor niggle is that the game does, especially when jumping very high and gliding, does exhibit some pop-up and draw-in for buildings and objects in the game world.

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Shootout with some aliens in the corridor.
One aspect of this game that can't be overlooked is the soundtrack which is simply phenomenal and includes artists such as Cypress Hill, Aerosmith, Thin Lizzy, Robert Palmer, Papa Roach, Outkast, Haddaway, Paula Abdul, Junkie XL, The Bloody Beetroots, EMF, Blur, and the classic music from composers such as Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Chopin and Bach to name just a few. It's not just the great songs are in the game, but how they are used during missions - at one point a character in your car will start singing along to the music - badly, but it's funny. Another mission sees you climbing a missile trying to save the earth with some corny dialogue to Aerosmith's "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" just like the film Armageddon - it's perfect.

The game also features a tonne of scripted dialogue which, while at times very amusing, can also be a little out in terms of tone or delivery. Still there's certainly a lot more good here then bad and with a list that includes Keith David, Daniel Dae Kim, Terry Crews (who takes over from the late Michael Clarke Duncan as Benjamin King), Michael Dorn, Neil Patrick Harris, Troy Baker and Danielle Nicolet it's an impressive lineup. Oh, one final huzzah - you can even select Nolan North as your characters voice!

Unfortunately the audio does occasionally drop out, in particular when you're in a mission, shooting baddies, and then go to the menu. Upon returning you can keep firing but often the sounds will be seconds behind the action until the game "Catches up". We've also had occasions when an audio effect hasn't played. It's not game breaking by any stretch of the imagination, but it shouldn't happen either.

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No, this isn't a game for youngsters.
Let's face it, there is no way you can review Saint's Row IV without direct comparison to Rockstar's recently released GTAV and the comparison throws up a few more surprises then one would think with Volition's title coming out on top in several areas.

In terms of graphics - GTAV wins with a level of sheen and world detail. In terms of audio - GTAV wins, just with Volition's title having a better soundtrack, but some occasional glitches and limited dialogue. In terms of gameplay they games on par - GTAV is more serious and refined, but Saints Row IV is more "fun". In terms of fun factor - Saints Row IV wins with much more humour, more mini-games, and just more enjoyable characters. In terms of multiplayer - GTAV wins, but only by default as Saints Row lacks multiplayer beyond Co-Op, and GTAV's multiplayer is bitterly disappointing. So yar, each title has pros and cons and fans of this franchise will certainly get some enjoyment from Saint's Row IV.

Ultimately Saints Row IV offers an entertaining, albeit often crude, open-world game with plenty of variety and fun. Technically it's a few notches below what we expected, and what we've seen with Rockstar's title, but don't let that hold you back from purchasing this game.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSA solid open-world title with some neat visuals, but lacking refinement.
84%
SOUNDA superb soundtrack that hits the right notes, while some limited dialogue and ocacsional gitches bring the game back a bit.
80%
GAMEPLAYFUN. That's the best way to describe this open-world game which gets so much right.
93%
VALUEWith dozens of missions, collectables and mini-games this game will have you returning for weeks. Needed multiplayer modes to up the longevity though.
90%
OVERALLSaints Row IV is a fantastic title deserving a lot more sales then it will receive (well, compared to Rockstar's title). If you're after another open-world game when you've finished with Michael, Franklin and Trevor then check out the Saints Row gang...
88%

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