Saints Row 4

You Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing

Hey! Sorry I’ve been away for a while. I got a baby on the way, you know. And I’m learning to drive. Exciting! Anyway, games.

Everyone should have a “game of the year” shortlist by now. I’m guessing The Last Of Us (which was fucking excellent) is at the top of most of them. It’s not at the top of mine.

Saints Row 4 is a fucking stunning game. Apart from the fact it re-uses the art and assets from Saints Row 3. That is the one and only gripe I can think of, and even then it’s not much of a gripe, because there’s been more than one game set in Vice City and Liberty City, and no-one complained about that. So there you go. Saints Row 4 is flawless.

Let’s see which critic-required boxes it can tick.

Originality – well, kind of. It’s a game that is genuinely funny for a lot of the time, which is something that other games don’t always manage. It’s also a spoof, which historically is never done well in games. This one nails it; from the super sprint / super flight mechanics (which kinda take the piss out of Infamous, Prototype and any other games like those that I’ve forgotten),  to the obligatory and funny as fuck stealth mission, Saints Row 4 aims at the higher targets, and skewers them every time. OK, so it might not be very original really, but it does feature the Dubstep gun. Every single game ever should now rip off the Dubstep gun.

“Art” – an awkward box, but it’s on every fucking critic’s list. Is it arty? Does it bring the best of film / TV / music / painting / sculpture / knitting together with the best games have to offer? You know what I mean; when critics really get stuck into a game, and can’t help but dip into the wank hat. Well, I would argue that Saints Row 4 is a Dadaist masterpiece (I had to look that up on Wikipedia to make sure I was right) (I hope this means I’m a proper critic now!). Within the story missions, anything can happen. And I mean anything. Like, ooh, I dunno, your character singing along to the radio in the car. And his friend, in the passenger seat, singing along with him. And then the main baddie in the game, who is not in the car, singing along with your character and his friend, until they both realise the baddie is singing along too, and then they start swearing at him. Also, the side missions are slightly demented. One of them has you throwing people, cars and disembodied heads through hoops using telekinesis while two commentators talk about how hard it is for Americans to speak in a British accent. I think I’ve made my point by now.

Emotional content – this is the reason why I predict The Last Of Us to be top of most GotY lists this year. It is sad! And it is. But then, look at Saints Row 4. Near the start, it shows you Earth being blown up. It’s gone. The Saints don’t fight to save their world, or their people. They fight to avenge them. It’s pretty fucking harsh. Then there’s the hidden audio logs, which generally fill you in on character’s backgrounds. Until you get to Kinzie’s, and she confesses to being in love with one of the Saints, who is dead now, because he was on Earth when it blew up. This one is rather sad. And if THAT doesn’t tickle your tear gland, finish the game. Wait until the end credits. Listen until the cast starts singing Just A Friend. Wait until the end of the song, and realise that is Michael Clarke Duncan singing and laughing at the end. I’m not afraid to say, I shed a tear. Fuck The Last Of Us, it doesn’t have shit on this.

Finally, there’s that “je ne sais quois” thing. you know, that gut feeling you get when you’ve played greatness. When something deserves to be lauded by your peers, discussed in a million forums, passed down from father to child kinda thing. Sure, The Last Of Us had it in spades. I’d happily argue that Saints Row 4 has more of it. And why, you ask? Because it is fun. FUN. Capital motherfucking letters. It gave me 35 hours of non-stop grinning like an idiot, either because it was funny, or stupid, or both, or just at the sheer joy of throwing my character across the entire city and back at breakneck speed, because I could. Why does it feature a re-enactment of Keith David and Rowdy Roddy Piper’s epic fight from They Live in it? Because it can, and because it is funny, and why the fuck not?

If The Last Of Us is the movie The Road, then Saints Row 4 is Airplane. And I fucking love Airplane.

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