Best Games - Saints Row IV
Let’s get this straight right off the jump. Saints Row: The Third is the best game in the Saints Row series. Volition made two games that could be fairly summed up as Grand Theft Auto clones with toilet humor before reworking the 3rd into a self aware comedy that was as much parody as it was forward looking. Saints Row: The Third raised the bar for what an open world character driven game could be and stood out as a truly wonderful experience all it’s own.
Then they made Saints Row IV. It would be easy to see this followup game as derivative. After all it did use a lot of the same assets and gameplay loops. The mission structures and events in Saints Row: The Third that seemed fresh and interesting were rehashed with the thinnest layers of polish in the 4th game. All of your favorite old characters were back. But they were old, and they were back. Like from before. Previous.
Still Saints Row IV made it here into one of my Best Games posts.
With Saints Row IV, Volition chose fun. If there was a decision to make between difficulty and fun they chose fun. If they had to choose between realism and fun they chose fun. If there was an opportunity to prioritize fun over engaging with the systems already in the game, they chose fun.
This is a game world full of a variety of fun cars and planes you can steal and roam around in, but your character can run like the flash so that is usually more fun than driving. This is a game with an arsenal ten miles deep and you never need to use it because running up a building and jumping down with the force of a small nuke is more fun. The story is absolute nonsense that straddles the line between The Matrix and Independence Day and it wears all of its influences proudly on its sleeve, but it is fun.
If you look back to reviews of the game you will see a lot of folks taking a few points off the game for being too easy. And it is. Saints Row IV is an absolute cakewalk. Past the halfway point there will rarely be anything that pops up that challenges the player in the slightest. And it doesn’t matter at all. Sometimes fun is what matters. Sometimes you have to prioritize fun.
The characters and their antics are genuinely funny, if a certain level of side eyed lowbrow is something you find funny. The kind of irreverent that is smart enough to know where to land it’s punches and when to just be silly. The writing in Saints Row IV prioritizes fun.
Saints Row: The Third is a rare beast. An open world comedy action game that refuses to be snide or gritty. There is an upbeat optimism woven into the mayhem. Violence so bizarre and unrealistic that it lends the game a sort of helium filled buoyancy. It was and is a brilliant game.
Saints Row IV does that all again but removes any and all barriers to fun. Do what you want. Be what you want. Become an agent of chaos in this simulated world. Just don’t worry, the pins will be set back up for you to knock them down all over again and again and again. In any way you like.
You know, Fun.
Fun is why Saints Row IV is one of the best games