We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
PC games software Reviews
15,497 Reviews PC Advisor Recommended

Saints Row IV review

£39.99

Manufacturer: Volition Inc.

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

The anti-GTA explores a whole new world of perma-grinning absurdity

With the chest-thumping GTA V preparing to take over the world next week, now seems like exactly the right time to cleanse the palate with the latest instalment of its sometime rival , Saints Row. While driving cars and clobbering passers-by is both games' bedrock, Saints Row IV is an entirely different animal. Like Saints Row: The Third before it, it takes absolutely nothing seriously, least of all itself. The big switch here, however, is that it's left its satirical gangster foundations behind and gone full-on sci-fi.

This is a game in which the president of the USA gains superpowers and battles an alien invasion. There are reasons of a sort as to why that happens, but if you care about those reasons you're approaching SRIV in the wrong spirit. The only answer to any question of 'why?' is 'because.' And so it is that you can leap tall buildings in a single bound, levitate lorries with your mind, freeze hordes of aliens or fly hover-turrets around the skies at speed.

Frequent diversions have you donning mech suits, finding yourself transformed into a 50s house wife who refuses to break the speed limit, climbing impossible alien towers that would give Babylon a run for its money, or listening to the invaders' pompous leader performing dreadful recreations of Romeo and Juliet. The game's full of chaotic merriment, to the point that on paper it sounds doomed to be a confused mess, but unbelievably it hangs together, becoming a vast, joyful theme park without barriers, rather than a irritating glut of gimmicks.

Drive (or super-sprint) (or fly) (or power-jump) to any intended objective, no matter how tantalising it might be, and an hour later you'll realise you were merrily sidetracked by a dozen other things you hit en route, finding yourself in a spaceship, 'liberating' entire city blocks with your arsenal of customisable and appropriate weapons,  or by getting lost in upgrading the deliriously overpowered abilities.

The game's remarkably irritation-free, and smart at ensuring little time is wasted in the event you die or otherwise fail and objective. Perhaps it robs meaning and sense of achievement at times, but the wall-to-wall distractions, quip-riddled dialogue and chain reactions of mayhem means you're simply too busy enjoying yourself to care about why you're doing it. Where so many games create challenge by imposing restrictions, Saints Row IV sees what happens if it tries taking all the brakes off and giving you everything.

 Saints Row IV

Letting the side down a bit is that the game can be pretty damned ugly. It's technically proficient enough, graphics-wise, but the murky lighting and reliance on the sort of spiky-with-strip lighting sci-fi architecture that's used and abused by so many other recent games means the joy of the unbridled interactions it offers can look muted in practice. On the other hand, some of the powers and their effects are so outlandish that it basically doesn't matter that the world's clad in permanent darkness.

When it wants to - such as that temporary visit to a Leave It To Beaver-styled 1950s small town - the game's entirely capable of visual vibrancy, so it's just a shame that tends to be the exception rather than the rule.

But given SRIV offers far, far more than any other open world game to date does, that's a small price to pay. Of course everything about it is lightweight and throwaway, but it knows that and intends it to be the case, which is why it gets away with it so well.

The question we're left with, inevitably, is where can Saints Row possibly go after this? Well, we said that after the last game too, and Saints Row IV answered with aplomb.

Saints Row IV Expert Verdict »
Available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. PC system requirements: OS: Windows Vista (x86 or x64) Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 | AMD Athlon II x3 Memory: 4 GB RAM Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 260 | AMD Radeon HD 5800 series DirectX: Version 10 Hard Drive: 10 GB available space
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

By all rights, Saints Row IV should have been an irritating, juvenile and disjointed attempt to keep an exhausted formula on borrowed time. Instead, it's an infectiously delighted festival of impossible activities, and a successful attempt to see what happens when gaming's usual rules are relaxed.

There are currently no price comparisons for this product.
  • Saints Row: The Third review

    Saints Row: The Third

    A consistently improving open-world franchise embraces its inner-cheesiness.

  • Watch_Dogs review: GTA starring a magical, miseriguts hacker

    Watch_Dogs: GTA starring a magical, miseriguts hacker

    'GTA starring a magical, miseriguts hacker' is a cruel summary but an appropriate one for this much-hyped next-gen open world action game

  • Gigabyte GM-M6880 review

    Gigabyte GM-M6880

    Gaming peripherals usually restrict themselves to enthusiasts on account of their price. However, Gigabyte has attempted to break this trend with its GM series of gaming mice that do not cost the earth. The Gigabyte GM-M6880 is a laser mouse that falls into this category.

  • Alien Breed 3: Descent review

    Alien Breed 3: Descent

    Alien Breed is a franchise that's been around for a long time, and it's the kind of game that will always have an audience. Alien Breed 3: Descent is a game for PC, PS3 or Xbox 360.

  • Sleeping Dogs review

    Sleeping Dogs

    The artist formerly known as True Crime: Hong Kong does GTA in the Far East.


IDG UK Sites

Motorola Moto G vs Nokia Lumia 530 comparison: What's the best budget smartphone

IDG UK Sites

Everything you need to know about Apple's iPhone Camera in iOS 8

IDG UK Sites

Why you shouldn't trust password managers

IDG UK Sites

How to make an 'Apple iWatch' using an iPod nano and a 3D printer