Back to Steelport: Saints Row IV First Impressions

Posted on August 20, 2013 2:00 PM by Rob Williams

Saints Row IV is interesting for a couple of reasons, and it’s not all tied to its content. For starters, the fact that there is a fourth game in the series is nice to see, given that when THQ folded, Volition’s future was in question. Well, Deep Silver picked the team up, and I have a feeling this won’t be the last Saints Row we’ll see, based on initial reviews and gamer feedback that I’ve seen.

So there, I just gave it away: Saints Row IV is a great game. Personally though, I’ve only been able to sink about 2 hours into the game so far, but it’s easy to already tell that it’s going to deliver the same sort of fulfilling experience as Saints Row: The Third – and if you’ve played that game, you’ll become comfortable real fast with IV.

Saints Row IV - 1920x1080
Click here for multi-monitor widescreen version.

We’re back at Steelport, but one that’s been overrun by aliens – it’s not quite as attractive as what you’ll remember. Unlike the last game, this one takes place in some sort of simulator, so everything you do in the city of Steelport here is essentially being done in the simulator – meaning the real world may very-well not be affected. There are a couple of pros and cons to this: on the pros side, you’re able to get away with some ridiculous things, such as being able to save a vehicle to your inventory and spawn it later, wherever you are. The cons will be seeing the buildings and other objects glitch a bit on occasion, reminding you that what you’re seeing isn’t actually real.

We’ve come to expect serious randomness from the Saints Row series, and a lot of humor – and nothing’s changed here. Within 15 minutes of starting your adventure, you’ll be hopping onto a shuttle that’s making its way to space, trying to save it from exploding once it reaches the proper altitude. As you do this, Aerosmith’s I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing starts playing, and as much as that song isn’t to my tastes, I couldn’t help but laugh by the Armageddon movie throwback.

That’s the great thing about Saints Row IV – it’s simply hilarious, and in many different ways. Many things that can make you laugh might actually be very subtle jokes, but that makes them all the better. And again, this is the type of game that changes things up fast, so one moment you might be battling aliens on the White Crib’s lawn, the next you may be starring in your very own 1970s-esque TV show, Leave it to the Saints.

Saints Row IV - 1920x1080
Click here for multi-monitor widescreen version.

Combat in the game is as good as expected, especially if you’ve played The Third. There are a wide variety of weapons to choose from, from serious to silly, and all of them can be very effective. My personal favorite so far is the rocket launcher, as its damage is simply incredible. Though if we’re talking about vehicular combat, nothing can touch a tank for sheer destruction.

In the two hours I’ve played so far, I have experienced a couple of bugs. First occurred near the start of the game, where my co-op partner was able to go on and customize his character, while I was left just staring at a screen I had no control over. After a forced Alt + F4, I was back to where I was within a minute, able to customize my character. I found the audio to be a little hit-or-miss as well. Throughout the entire gameplay, I heard a very faint siren – likely a sound that happened earlier on, but just never shut off. After restarting the game, the problem went away, but it’s clear to me that the audio problems of the original have made their triumphant return – though also like the original, they may be exclusive to co-op.

On the upside, there are a couple of great things technical-wise. Multi-monitor works beautifully, as can be seen with the screenshots here, with nary an issue to report. The GUI orients properly, menus stick to the center screen and the FOV, to me, is fine (though I’m not as fussy about the FOV as many gamers).

Saints Row IV - 1920x1080
Click here for multi-monitor widescreen version.

I’ve only put a bit of time into the game so far, but I can already tell it’s going to be another great Saints Row adventure. There’s a lot to do, like in the last game, and a lot of laughs to be had.

Brandon is heading-up the duty of taking an even deeper look at the game (you know, with more than 2 hours of gametime in), so stay tuned for his review to be posted within the next week or so. 

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