The Saints Row franchise has garnered a plethora of attention for its original take on open-world action and adventure; sharing similarities with Grand Theft Auto at its origin, Saints Row evolved into something more and more ludicrous, over-the-top and dramatic with each instalment. Saints Row IV is certainly not a break in that chain.
Saints Row IV puts your as-always-customisable character, The Boss, into the shoes of the President of the United States who's simple life of sitting in an ivory-gold tower commanding constituents is turned upside down when aliens from the Zin Empire, led by Emperor Zinyak, attack the White Crib and kidnap the President and his/her cabinet. The Boss/President is now trapped inside a digital simulation of Steelport and has to do what they can to break free, save the other Saints, eliminate Zinyak and save the world from the aliens' control.
It's an action packed adventure, as always, and throws you right into the action after an interesting monologue delivered by Kinzie Kensington, essentially highlighting the transition from Saints Row: The Third to Saints Row IV, and how The Boss became the President.
Now, when I said that Emperor Zinyak placed the Saints in a simulation of Steelport, don't think too much about the Deckers' simulation in Saints Row: The Third. It's not at all like that; it's actually the Steelport we remember from SRTT, except now there's technological aspects like Kinzie hacking the simulation to give you superpowers, being able to materialise a car from your garage directly in front of you, play music out of the sky so you can listen to the radio while on-foot as well, so on and so forth. It's Steelport as we know it...just with a hint of space-age technology and it's a bit darker, since Zinyak is all about that "doom and gloom."
Did I mention superpowers? That is correct, dear friends. The Boss, rather early on, gains access to superpowers thanks to Kinzie's hacking skills. You start off with super-sprint and super-jump (think back to the Prototype series) and you are able to upgrade them with Data Clusters, but more powers are not available until you progress more. Data clusters are glowing blue...well, clusters of streaming data that look a bit like The Matrix green text on the black background that moves up and down on the screen. Data clusters are placed around Steelport, on monuments, houses, the tops of buildings, billboards, you name it. Walking or running through these clusters adds them to your cache and you may use them to upgrade your current powers or purchase new ones as they become available, and it's incredibly fun collecting those clusters.
Overall gameplay is quite reminiscent to Saints Row 2 while taking the fun and over-the-top aspects of Saints Row 3. They come together gloriously and are instrumental in delivering quite the experience. Remember in the first two Saints Row games, you had to complete activities to gain respect and unlock missions? Remember in Saints Row 3 when activities WERE the missions at some points and we felt robbed? Well, in Saints Row IV, activities are side-quests that initially serve as fun and interesting how-to's and the main missions are at your disposal whenever you'd like to play one. There are also a few throwback activities that were seen in Saints Row 2 but did not get carried over to Saints Row 3, and there are also some strictly co-op activities, so be sure to grab a friend.
Customisation in Saints Row IV is similar to that of Saints Row 3 and one would have noticed if one experienced the SRIV Inauguration Station. There are some new clothes, some new hairstyles, new weapons and new cars. Weapons are now customisable in terms of weapon skins that change the colour and weapon skins that change the look of the overall gun. There's not a huge variety for each weapon, but there's a nice selection to choose from. Speaking of new cars, remember the Pacemaker police vehicle in Saints Row 3? Now it's a customisable civilian car and the police will be driving the Pagani Zonda...which is disappointingly not as fast as it should be. Also, I'm sure you're all familiar with the CanAm Spyder? The three-wheeled motorcycle? You'll find those in Steelport as well.
There's so much more I'd like to say about Saints Row IV, but it's quite impossible without giving away details that you'll want to discover yourself. It's undeniably a brilliant experience and I'm so glad I picked up the collector's...excuse me, the Super Dangerous Wub Wub edition because this is an experience I plan on reliving regularly.
Oh, before I forget, those who were asking about the Penetrator from Saints Row 3: the Penetrator itself has not made a return...but something even better has taken its place, and owners of the SR4 Season Pass will be even more pleased with a second addition.