If you ever wanted to be Neo from The Matrix trilogy, but didn’t have a fancy hovercraft with broadcasting and hacking technology – and if you missed the boat with The Matrix Online – then Saints Row IV is the next best thing. You get all the superpowers and none of the responsibility. Well, there is a level of responsibility, but it has more to do with the fact that in order to best the game, you have to create as much chaos as possible. Then, there are the aliens. Lots of aliens.
To begin with, you’re still the boss of the Third Street Saints gang turned national folk heroes. Except that after a bout of heroism where you save America from being nuked by a rogue ex-military leader you encountered in the previous game, you’re elected President of the United States. And…well, then some aliens invade and blow up the planet. Although, at this time you’re already locked inside a computer simulation of Steelport, creating havoc and generally trying to stuff up the plans of the alien leader Zinyak.
So, while you’re in the Steelport simulation, you’re given these literal superpowers to bend the rules of the game, jumping to extreme heights, running as fast as a speeding bullet and even elemental powers. While this renders the whole point of the cars completely useless for the vast majority of the game, I couldn’t really care less. I am having too much fun barreling through everyone and everything and to be honest, the driving physics in the game are hardly that good at doing anything other than reenacting a Russian dashcam compilation.
In fact, the entire game is hilarious fun. It’s a testament to the skills of the folks at Volition who managed to make it as awesome as it is whilst their owners went through bankruptcy. Yes, the fact that the game puts you in a rerun of Steelport with largely the same graphics from Saints Row 3 feels like a complete nod to their lack of money and resources. This does mean that it feels and plays largely like Saints Row 3, especially in the combat mechanics. However, the fun and frivolity of the dialogue and the levels of insanity you can now wreak on the virtual citizens of Steelport more than makes up for this for the most part.
All in all, Saints Row IV feels like an extreme version of its predecessor. It invokes The Matrix, it invokes alien invasion disaster movies. It turns everything up to eleven and doesn’t care what you think. I like the attitude of the game, full of nonsense, snide quips and innuendo. Unfortunately, it does feel a bit recycled due to the overall map of Steelport being largely the same, but you know what? It doesn’t matter all that much. It’s a laugh a minute and that’s what counts: entertainment value. Now, where the hell is my alien tentacle bat?