September 15, 2013
How Saints Row IV Killed Saints Row The Third
Saints Row games have always embodied and embraced the idea of starting from the bottom and building yourself up, which is why Saints Row IV is much more interesting than Saints Row: The Third. Seriously, big props to the guys at Deep Silver who managed to pull this series back together from the burning wreckage of the last one and put together something that brought even some of the hardest SR2 fans and still escape said wreckage in what can only be described as Michael Bay’s Wet Dream.
So, how does it do this? Well, first of all they centralized the villains into one main gang, if you can even call it that. Although I’ve heard the argument that Saints Row: The Third tried to do this with the overall antagonist being the Syndicate, but then again I’ve also heard that goldfish can survive in mineral oil. It’s not that they did anything wrong in trying to connect the gangs together, but whenever you’re so used to the turf wars having a deeper story than Matt Miller or Killbane fucking you over, it just seems lazy, almost intentionally poorly written. In reality, the only aspect this changes is that instead of gang operations scattered throughout the city, they’ve been replaced with “flashpoints,” which is exactly the same thing only not because buzzwords.
As I mentioned, the villains from Saints Row: The Third, with the exception of Killbane (to an extent), weren’t very fleshed out. Zinyak, however, feels more fleshed out and even more insane than Julius. It’s remarkable how he is almost a direct contract to the typical fast talking, trigger happy psychopath who would rarely spare an opportunity to rearrange your face with hot lead and yet still both evil and easy to hate. Hell, he even gives you a chance to turn your life over to save the crew, and if you choose it in game, it even rolls the credits only to be taken away to the sound of his growling laughter. Periodically throughout the game, he talks to you within the simulation, but he never makes it clear just what he wants. At times it seems like he wants to break you, but other times it seems like he’s trying to sleep with you. Perhaps this is why he’s the best villain, because he’s practically a mirror image of you.
As far as gameplay goes, on the other hand, it’s pretty solid. The addition of super powers to the game gives it a great fast pace and chaotic feel to it without going too overboard, but it still lives a little to be desired. Where this may just be a personal critique on the super powers, it feels like they completely missed out on combos. Half the game you’ll have barely enough unlocked to get an ice shot fired off before you’re winded and have to switch to another power frantically in an attempt to avoid death. But whenever you use the next super power, it doesn’t maintain that fast paced chaotic feel as you have to walk over and whack on your enemy.
Also, there was that whole issue everyone brought up like it was a cure for cancer regarding the cars, with so many modifications added to them and being outdone by the super powers. To that I say: would the team at Deep Silver have been criticized any less had they not put them in? That kind of criticism seems like petty minded rambling to me. Saints Row has always pushed the boundaries of “freedom” regarding whatever they’re doing, so to leave out a cornerstone of the game, such as the option to customize cars, would be fatal.
There are so many things I could ramble on about with little end in sight, so I’ll TL:DR (Too Long: Didn’t Read) this bad boy. Saints Row IV beats out Saints Row: The Third because it’s not trying to be a serious game, therefore brightening up even the more serious moments. And while it may not be the quirky crime drama SR1 or SR2 were, but I do think that had they tried to make another one it would’ve gone the same route as Grand Theft Auto Liberty City.
Image Credit: Deep Silver Volition