For those of you not able to shell out the big bucks for the special editions of Saints Row IV, we made sure to get you some nice box-opening pictures, as well as videos of the collectibles in action. Add to that the usual review and you get a very special edition of DenOfGeek game reviews.
For those of you who haven’t bought it yet and are trying to avoid spoilers, LEAVE NOW (or jump to the bottom to skip spoilers and go straight to the collectibles).
Years have passed since Saints Row: The Third, and the story starts off with tracking down and defeating Cyrus Temple, the pain in the ass who tried to get us all killed last time. He’s since lost his commission and become a terrorist, and taking him out in movie-star fashion makes us national bone fide heroes. Jump a few years into the future and we’re the sitting President of the United States. The jump comes in as your approval numbers are taking a turn for the worse, and you have a chance to make a couple of Presidential choices before the big bad arrives.
So, the big bad: ALIENS!! And not just any aliens, but aliens who have come to take over and lecture us for our love of leaping and for our bravado, which is to say they think we have no shot at all of defeating them which is kind of silly. They obviously haven’t been watching the last few games, where we seriously kicked some butt, am I right? Without giving too much away, the game basically becomes a mix between The Matrix, They Live (bonus Geek points if you don’t need to look it up first), TRON and Saints Row: The Third (and all in the best ways possible).
The graphics are both sharper and consistent with the series of games to date, but they show off their awesomeness in several side-quests and mini-games. They range from the usual crisp world all the way to deliberately glitchy computer world going to hell. As you try to take over the simulation, the world around certain points alters making funny and ridiculous things happen to the cyber-people in cyber-Steelport, from elongated arms to their eyes bulging bigger than their head. It’s truly a sight to laugh at and enjoy.
The gameplay starts like any other Saints Row game, with only minor changes to the controls due to the sheer amount of abilities added later. For instance, instead of hitting left/right on the control pad to compliment and taunt, you need to hold it down for a second or two. Not a big change, and they’re still in the same place, just a slight change on how to press it. I give them props for this since, as everyone who’s read my Assassins’ Creed 3 review knows, I HATE it when they radically change game controls within a series.
The gameplay soon becomes more complex as the story develops, and with side quests that include some double-dragon-like side-scroller action, this game has enough range for anyone to enjoy. They also seemed to take a page out of Mass Effect’s book, having Loyalty side missions for each member of your crew.
The powers cyber-you can appropriate over the course of the game are awesome, from super-speed running, super-high jumps and mid-air dashing and gliding to the abilities to freeze or burn people, and let’s not forget everyone’s favorite: Telekinesis. Not to be outdone even by themselves, the Volition crew even found a way to bring new Genki levels in to the simulation, making it Emperor Zinyak’s favorite Earth show.
The weapon customization is just plain cool, and the choices given for each gun are plentiful. The only thing I could possibly add is that, for Saints Row V, making them as customizable as vehicles, down to colors, patterns and silencers for all.
The sound is honestly amazing when you take the time to pay attention. The customizations to the weapons, for example, don’t just change how the gun looks but also how it sounds. One of the gun customizations for a handgun includes making it into Han’s blaster from Star Wars. It doesn’t just look like Han’s blaster, it fires laser shots from then on and the sound is a blaster to match. They truly did amazing and elegant work to make everything not just visually customizable but to make it immersive sound-wise as well.
The voice acting was amazing as usual, and I noticed in the Character Creation screen one of the voice choices is Nolan North (either as a standard or because I got the special edition, I don’t know), who is the voice of many of my favorite games, including Deadpool, Uncharted (all three since he’s the main character), and Desmond Miles from Assassin’s Creed series as well. Add to that the usual cast of amazing in Saints Row boss voices like Troy Baker and Laura Bailey (the default male and female voices), JB Blanc as Zinyak (who was awesome in The Count Of Monte Cristo as Luigi Vampa for those who like to play Six Degrees), Keith David, Daniel Dae Kim (who’s BACK!!), Michael Clarke Duncan and Terry Crews (MCD will be missed and Terry Crews did an amazing job filling some big shoes), as well as our favorites for Pierce (Arif Kinchen) and Shaundi (Danielle Nicolet, who if I’m right was also in an episode of Angel).
The only sadness for sound (other than the lack of adding music, which is my own personal gripe) was Jennifer Jules Hart as Shaundi from Saints Row 2 (there’s a story, it’s a thing, there’s two Shaundis, deal with it). While she did an awesome job, since the original was Eliza Dushku, not only is that someone whose voice we know well, but unfortunately it caught me mid-re-watch of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, meaning Dushku’s voice was fresh in my mind and I caught the differences. While I’m sure Eliza Dushku didn’t necessarily want to come back for the part, it’d be nice if we knew for sure they tried to get her for continuity’s sake, especially since they did their best to get everyone else (including Keith David).
One extra awesome was the inclusion of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, to cement the comparison I did earlier with They Live and to have me in full Geek-Out mode when I went through that part and will from now on every time I replay it, which I’m sure to.
I did already say I was going to replay it, which is usually a good sign. A better sign is that I’ve already created my second character, this time a Madame President, who is going to blast, punch and super-speed her way to kicking Zinyak’s butt in a much slower and methodical fashion so I can get 100% completion, something I didn’t do in order to get this review done sooner rather than later.
The Saints Row franchise has replayability covered. Between mini-games, side-missions and seven voices and personalities that change conversations and keep them interesting, there is very little that can’t be done or attempted, and there’s always another task or personality or achievement to unlock, even with 100% completion.
While I haven’t been able to check this out due to not having Xbox Live, I do find the new style of multiplayer innovative. Now, I know what you’re thinking, why didn’t I get it for PS3? Well, with series of games I try to stick to the same system, for continuity. That being said, the ability to drop into someone else’s storyline and help them out, kick butt and then go back to my own ‘simulation’ is definitely the wave of the future.
Games coming for PS4 and Xbox One are the only others bragging about this seamless ability and I give Volition props (again and again) for being one of the first (if not the first) to make the Campaign mode that easily cooperative and seamless if it works the way described.
Okay, for those who jumped straight here, I don’t blame you. For those who read the rest, I know you’ve been waiting patiently, so here we go.
Obviously, the first thing I had to do was open the box. I didn’t expect what awaited me…
The Special Edition box itself is something I’m looking for a place to display, since it’s both awesome and huge in its own right. As you can see from the size comparison, it’s about a foot and a half tall or so.
Inside, we see the Dubstep Gun mini-replica (12” long), the Doomsday Dubstep Button with a fleur-de-lis key to lock and un-lock it, the Commander-in-Chief Edition of the game, and the Johnny Gat memorial statue which, if you pay attention in-game is still not built due to some red tape.
Johnny’s statue stands at 8″ tall, and looks like it should be made of marble in real life.
Here are videos of the Dubstep gun and the Doomsday Button in action:
The only things I didn’t like about the dubstep gun are the trigger placement (which would be a thumb trigger instead of for a fore-finger) and that it only lights up for the first second or two, even though it plays music for a whopping 30 seconds at a time (which is not short at all for a single button-press).
The doomsday button plays for about the same, including an alien/robotic countdown before it begins. As you saw, the doomsday button also will not play without flicking the switch first (Safety First, Saints!), while the Dub-step gun has no on/off switch so I recommend removing the batteries when not demonstrating it (if you even play with it at all, since some people vacuum-seal collectibles right away).
All in all, the huge box is cool, the game amazing, the Dubstep gun fun and the doomsday button my favorite for having the fleur-de-lis key.