The Saints Row franchise has always been compared to anything that GTA does. It’s after all an open-world sandbox game. Because of this it’s always played second fiddle to the monster that’s the GTA franchise, until now. I’m about to tell you something very important. Something that you need to take a moment to process… Saints Row IV: Re-Elected is one of the very best ‘Super Hero’ games ever made.
Out with the old, in with the new
I am the first to admit that the first two Saints Row outings weren’t anything special to get you overly excited, which is a shame, as it’s the benchmark for many players looking at anything ‘Saints Row’ related going forward. Saints Row: The Third improved quite drastically, but Saints Row IV: Re-Elected, which is the remaster of the original Saints Row IV on last gen consoles, is a unique proposition. Things start off in an over-the-top Saints Row fashion where your character (you play yourself and you’ll design it from head to toe) ‘The Boss’ is indeed the President of the United States after events, which took place five years earlier, that had your popularity shoot to the top.
On your way to the office you’re bombarded by ludicrous questions, such as ‘Curing Cancer’ or putting and end to ‘World Hunger’. Once making those simple little choices you head towards your office when the next thing you’re bombarded by an alien invasion. I can’t make these things up. Not before long you’re confronted and, after a battle, abducted by the alien warlord, Zinyak. When you wake up you’re in a 50’s version of Steelport. Everyone is happy and The Boss even walks in a comically happy fashion. Things are not quite what it seems. You see, you’re stuck inside a simulation and it’s because of this that your world is about to be turned upside-down and inside out.
It’s fun, lots of fun!
In the simulation world you’ll quickly learn to leap higher than most skyscrapers, to run faster than a speeding bullet, endure more attacks than Superman in his wildest dreams and soar like a bird as you glide (no, you can’t quite fly) for kilometers. To receive these various powers you have to beat Wardens, a tough alien that will test your skills. Once you’ve weakened it you tap the R2 button and jump inside it. Yes, yes you do some weird things in the game. Once inside the PS4 touch pad comes into action by having to quickly swipe in left, right, up or down QTE motions. Once completed you’ll gain that skill and it can be upgraded. This is where the fun begins.
To upgrade your powers you’ll have to collect glowing blue clusters. You’ll see it scattered all over Steelport. You’ll also find some clusters stuck to the side of some buildings or beneath the floor underneath you, but I’ll leave you to discover how to deal with those for yourself. Once you have enough clusters you can ramp up the speed at which you run, or the height that you jump at. You can also upgrade the damage and range of your ‘blast’ power or the distance your telekinesis throws object and the damage it does when connecting your target. There’s LOTS to upgrade and doing so is a enormous amount of fun.
Where we going we don’t need roads
Yes, there are vehicles, both land and air, but when you have these super powers there’s absolutely no reason to use it, other than perhaps picking it up to use as a weapon. I lie, now and then you’ll have to drive or fly a vehicle when taking part in a side quest that has it as a requirement, but it’s not often at all. The side quests will involve the destruction of alien troops, mech suit and telekinesis mayhem, hacking, blazin (where you run on a course against time, instead of driving), fraud, explore rifts (speed, platforming and aiming challenges) and many other activities to keep you entertained.
Your main aim however is to find and rescue your Saints Row team that includes Pierce, Shuandi, Matt, Ben, C.I,D., Ash and the big dog himself – Johnny Gat. As before the writing is as silly as any Saints Row before it, though at times I think it’s reached the pinnacle of bonkers. For example, when you decide on the voice for your character you’ll see Male 1, 2, 3, Female 1,2,3 and Nolan North as an option. Guess what I, and many other players, went for? Playing as Nolan North will also see him making fun of himself in the game. Furthermore there are very direct references to Mass Effect, Metal Gear Solid and Streets of Rage. The writers knew exactly who they were poking fun at and did a grand job at doing so. So what’s new with this remaster.
Some extra crazy just for you
Other than the graphics being upscaled to 1080P for the PS4 and a dim purple light shining on your controller there’s not much else in terms of anything new. What is new, if you missed out on it in the original game, are the two sets of DLC. ‘Enter the Dominatrix’ and ‘How the Saints Saved Christmas’. Both packs will last you just over an hour each. The latter DLC is not as festive as it sounds, but Enter the Dominatrix is a very special kind of crazy. Let’s just say that it involves a Game of Thrones throne made up of dildos, a gimp onslaught and dinosaurs.
It’s as if the Saints Row developers finally realised that it’s time to make a game immensely fun, while GTA goes off doing the ‘serious thing’. The radio stations are more entertaining, playing great music and if you’re in the mood for co-op campaign it’s a blast, especially when you phone your homies for support. The action never ends. Throw in weapons that Insomniac wish they had thought of such as the Dubstep gun, Rectifier, Black Hole Launcher and you have a game that’s made purely to entertain you right up to the point that the credits role. It’s worked and they have roped in a fan of old — hook, line and sinker. I would re-elect this game to be replayed by anyone if you had the opportunity and spare cash to do so.
Please Note: The Expansion Pack, Saint Row IV: Gat out of Hell will be reviewed later this week.