Monday, 20 January 2014

Puckish Rogue of Saint's Row IV

My first entry to the Saint's Row, was the third game. At time of its release, I considered it a piece of art, something extraordinary, a game that is in first place meant to entertain, and only by sheer coincidence be a critic of pop culture at the same time. If you would ask me about the game of the year in 2011, I would without a moment of hesitation say Saint's Row the Third.

Now though, things have changed. Saint's Row the Third was a game about a gang that became too distanced from their roots. It was a game, where you started to come back to what you really were, no more a sellout, but a true Third Street Saint who bleeds purple. You slowly but steadily threw away shackles of commercialism and embraced the insanity of socipathic killer that does as he wants.

And along the way, you challenged the world to open war with your gang, as you pronounced your own independent city state of Steelport, or if you went the other way, saved Shaundi and forced the STAG Initiative out of the city. It was a great conclusion to an epic chapter. After all the murdering and ridiculous stunts I pulled as the leader of 3rd Street Saints, it ended in a way that left me wanting for more.

When I first heard they are making fourth game, and it would be centred around Steelport, I was excited. Imagine the possibilities, new gangs emerge, politicians trying to corrupt the leader of the Saints, and you fighting the corruption until the whole city is left in ashes. All this filled with a number of epic references to all the things we know and love, and plethora of murder, mayhem and wanton destruction.

I expected the Saint's Row IV to follow the suit. Entertaining, a lot of fun, with plethora of side activities, and a story that is so over the top, but you cannot help and just muse at it. Instead, we got over the top. At times, I think they went too far. Yes, it is fun, it is exciting, and when you are following the story it is great.

It is great primarily because you do not have access to your superpowers in most of the main story missions and the loyalty side quests. The premise is, that the leader of 3rd Street Saints became a President of United States. As this began, I started wondering what did they do with the cliffhangers of the third game. It seems that cannon is that the Protagonist saved Shaundi.

That aside, the story itself is entertaining, the Earth is gone, and you need to destroy the simulation of Steelport in order to destroy the Zyn Invaders. Yes, the game is full of references. From Jane Austen to Call of Duty. And these moments are great. Unfortunately they are too few. I finished the story in about 18 hours. The whole completion was a little above 50%.

I find no reason to go back and finish the game. I already did all the missions and side quests that mattered. The remaining 14 or something quests, are just chores. Hack this, destroy that, run here, sit there. There remaining quests can be completed by actually just roaming the city and engaging with the activities.

The character creator is as awesome as it was in the third game. As detailed as ever in fact. They added the slider for the pitch of the characters voice. Now, you can first choose the voice, and then change the pitch of it to the one that feels good to your ear. Which, is awesome. In theory, you can even make the character sound like yourself, which is at the same time as great as it can be disturbing.

Also, I hate the dark in the game. I like to see what I am doing on the screen. I like to see my own character. It is the same as I like to see my own reflection in the real world. I cannot do that in the dark. All the bloody talk about how this is a simulation, and how your friends are playing around with your super powers, but does anyone remember to set the sun in the sky?

No, pitch darkness with weird alien dubstep towers piercing the night sky. Only when you finish the final mission, can you hack into the simulation, and change the weather into something else. You can choose among plethora of options, from rather bizarre, to pleasantly appeasing and easy on the eyes.

At the end, when all is done, Earth is still destroyed. There is talk about travelling back in time, yet I am more interested if they will take it one step further, or will this be it, and Saint's Row IV a conclusion to the saga. To be honest, I am intrigued. I keep wondering what can they make of the current situation. I honestly want to see how they get to deal with all the problems the Universe can throw at them.

I want to see Saints take on the Universe. A Space saga that is built on mayhem, destruction, and comedy. I want to see how that would look like. Also, pistols feel a lot weaker than they did in the previous game when fully upgraded. I used to blow people from one side of the street to the other, now, they just fly a meter, and then fall to the ground. That, is the real disappointment.

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