"It's one thing to be revered as a hero, it's another to be a hero. And that, my friends, it where our journey begins..."
— The opening cinematicspoiler narrated by Jane Austen.
Saints Row IV is an August 2013 Wide Open Sandbox game developed by Volition. Due to THQ's bankruptcy, Deep Silver took up publishing duties for the game.Five years after Saints Row: The Third, the Boss has been elected President of the number one gang in the world: America. Unfortunately, this is followed by an Alien Invasion. Captured and trapped in a bizzaro Lotus-Eater Machine world, the Saints must escape their virtual prison and save the human race, in the most insane ways possible.The game's first trailer can be seen here. The second one here. The third one is here. The fourth one here. A demo was released in August 2013 in the form of The Inauguration Station, which is the character creation function for the game. Players may design their Boss and import their Saints Row: The Third characters via it, or just upload characters for when the full game comes out.Also, due to the vast amount of references from the trailers and character-builder demo alone, please find the Shout Out examples on the respective subpage.The game has two announced pieces of story DLC, the first, "Enter the Dominatrix", was released on Oct 24th, 2013 and entails the Saints retelling the story of the failed DLC for the third game that would later be expanded upon to become IV. The second DLC is "How the Saints Saved Christmas", a Christmas Episode where the President must save Santa Claus from his evil half, Santa Claws. It was released on December 10th, 2013.Has a stand-alone Expansion Pack with Johnny and Kinzie fighting The Legions of Hell, titled Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell
The President: We lost twenty points, we can get 'em back.
Pierce: We're at twenty points.
100% Completion: Made much more enjoyable than normal, because your homies give you specific tasks to complete in the game world, and doing groups of them give you new weapons or superpowers. And after clearing Matt's second sidequest, you get a collectable tracker that makes true 100% more of a go to point A and B than flailing around looking for that Last Lousy Point.
Action Bomb: During the last fight against Zinyak he'll summon exploding C.I.D.s to swarm you once he's at half health. You have to grab them with Telekinesis and throw them back at him to damage him through his force field until they stop spawning.
Action Girl: The female versions of the Boss, Asha, Shaundi, Shaundi and Kinzie. If they are female and have a name, it's likely they are one in this game. The female gang members in the simulation might count aswell.
After certain missions are completed, the girls start to look the part as well, adopting superhero costumes and personas in certain circumstances.
Future Shaundi in the How the Saints Save Christmas DLC.
Keith David plays himself, who in this world is the Vice President Keith David. He also played Julius, bringing Boss being his underling, Boss getting revenge when he tried to kill her/him for being too dangerous and Boss taking over the Saints and then being President full circle. This is lampshaded by Kinzie, who notes that it's really weird for the Boss to choose someone who sounds exactly like Julius as his second-in-command.
Adorkable: Kinzie. Cranked Up to Eleven during her cutscene interviews in the Enter the Dominatrix DLC (check out her "gag me" gesture at one point).
Given the customization options, the Boss can also be made to look this way, with some of the voice options, such as "Female 1", the American accent, lending themselves well to this.
Matt Miller during his loyalty mission where it's revealed the mission is a big piece of interactive NyteBlade "Mary Sue"-style fanfic.
Alien Invasion: The plot of IV involves aliens with a leader named Zinyak conquering Earth. The motherfucker has to learn the hard way who he's dealing with...
Alternate Continuity: Enter the Dominatrix is a fourth wall breaking example. Even the Saints seemed shocked by how crazy the plot is.
Always Night: The simulation is perpetually locked at moonrise until the very late game.
Anal Probing: The game features an alien anal probe as a weapon to be wielded by the player. The player can approach a target from behind and thrust the weapon between the victim's legs, before pulling a trigger which launches the victim into the air.
"The Zin Decree" as seen on the "The Zin" tab on this page:
Adhere to no one's law but Zinyak's.
Destroy anyone who dares stand in your way of complete and total domination.
Always take time to appreciate the finer things in life.
A commercial for the game features the following voiceover:
"The alien invasion has taken our planet. They have taken our presidents. They have taken our clothes."
Artifact Title: Subverted; you get to revisit the Row and the Church where the Saints first started in Ben King's rescue Mission.
Ascended Fanboy: After a particular loyalty mission The Boss uses their authority as the sole living world leader to grant Matt all official rights to the NyteBlayde property.
An Asskicking Christmas: The second (and last) mission DLC for the game is "How The Saints Saved Christmas" and not only contains enough insanity to make most other examples of this trope look tame by comparison, it establishes Boss as a character (hero seems like too much of a stretch, despite how heartwarming s/he is here) the likes of which we may never see again.
The Boss has been elected the President of the United States of America after saving the country from a missile attack by climbing the missile and ripping out wires along the way.
Zinyak became the ruler of the Zin Empire by conquering planets and offing his superiors.
Attack Its Weak Point: The Marauder enemy, a rolling ball that unfolds to form an explosive-shooting tripod robot that can only be damaged by shooting the back of its "head". It of course swivels to track your movement, and can swivel as fast as you can run around it without assistance.
Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" plays at the climax of the first mission, when the Boss saves America from a nuclear missle.
If flying a spaceship isn't cool enough for you, you get to do so while listening to "What is Love?" by Haddaway.
Speaking of Autobots, Stan Bush's "The Touch" is in the game, complete with an almost word for word quoting of a scene from the original Transformers movie.
You and Gat are running through Genkibowl, killing everything in sight to "The Boys are Back in Town".
Awesome but Impractical: The Sprint-Tornado power. While very fun to use, it is not very effective for combat or activities (except certain types of Mayhem). It also makes it very difficult to speed-jack vehicles, and tends to blow up cars and gas stations at the most inconvenient time (such as during Blazing). Most importantly, once you get this power, you cannot switch it off.
There's one major exception where Sprint-Tornado is supremely useful. By constantly sprinting along sidewalks and wrecking everything you pass by, it becomes trivially easy to earn Gold medals during on-foot Mayhem assignments. You can completely ignore the weapon or power you're told to use to rack up points just by sprinting around.
An even more extreme example is the nuclear attack upgrade to Death From Above. While it can nuke an entire section of the city, you have to get so high up to use it that you rarely have an opportunity; and the few things worth using it on have shields that you have to use your other superpowers to get through anyway. Plus, by the time you can get it, you can easily purchase unlimited ammo upgrades for any of your other weapons, making them far more efficient at clearing areas.
In-game vehicles are an example of this, too. You can find a wide assortment of vehicles from blistering street bikes to sexy super cars, and they can be modified and tarted up in a variety of ways. Despite this, they'll never be nearly as convenient or practical as the Boss' super running speed, obstacle-destroying shockwave, and the ability to leap several blocks with each jump.
Any background music playing is replaced with the Warden's theme whenever it comes into play. However, even the Warden's theme is forced to give way to the music fired from the Dubstep Gun.
The 'Merica weapon also replaces background music, this time with music that is considerably more patriotic.
Many missions disable the in-game radio so that they can play either appropriately atmospheric music or a specific song for the characters to listen to (and occasionally sing along with).
Bad Bad Acting: Jane Valderama invokes this when she's brought in to help Zinyak read a selection from Romeo and Juliet on the classical station. She reads it no different than she reads grisly news reports.
"My fellow Americans...my fellow Saints...today is a day unlike any other day that has come before it, for on this day, we must administer the biggest smackdown in the history of mankind, and take our independence back from the Anal Probing overlords that oppress us! We will fight them in the sky! We will fight them in the streets! We will fight them in text-based roleplaying adventures! On this day, we free our homies! We free our inhibitions! We free America! And we free the whole fucking planet!"
After you rescue Kinzie, she's in a bad mood and she wants to take it out on Cyrus Temple. Unfortunately, the protagonist makes it worse by commenting on her poodle skirt, causing Kinzie to sock him/her in the face. Oww.
It was bad enough when Zinyak blew up the Earth. But the Boss and Pierce REALLY lost their shit when Zinyak messed with Biz Markie.
Matt Miller is maybe a scrawny nerd and a total wimp, but screw with his Nyteblayde fanfiction or Nyteblayde in general and he'll go postal.
Big Bad: Zinyak. He's an alien. He's kidnapped the Saints and numerous other people and trapped them in a simulation. He's at least 10 feet tall. He sings opera. He's the main bad guy for the entire game.
Big Damn Heroes: Toward the end of the final boss fight, Zinyak has safely shielded himself behind an impenetrable forcefield. The forcefield generators are guarded by infinitely respawning Zin, which make disabling them quite difficult. After a while, the rest of the Saints burst into the throne room on hoverbikes, distracting the Zin and making finishing off the generators easier.
Big First Choice: Parodied. You're almost immediately thrust into the role of President and asked if you want to sign either a bill for curing cancer or a bill for ending world hunger. In a game that has absolutely nothing to do with either issue.
Bittersweet Ending: In the normal ending. The Earth has been destroyed, but the Saints are now in control of one of the most powerful races in the galaxy. The good ending, however, is a more straight up Happy Ending.
Blasphemous Boast: Early in the game, the Boss's approval ratings drop to 20 when s/he says that the text of the Pledge of Allegiance should be changed to "One nation, under me"note The part of the Pledge that the Boss wants to change currently reads "One nation, under God."
Bling Bling Bang: In addition to the many new weapon "costumes" several different weapon textures have been added, many of which are simply a solid gold plating for the weapon in question.
Boobs of Steel: As with Third, the option exists for female protagonists to have breasts the size of the Goodyear Blimp should the player so choose.
Shaundi, in particular the future Shaundi of How the Saints Save Christmas.
The Super Sprint and Super Speed powers are pretty mundane in comparison to the other powers you get, but they're immensely useful for getting around nonetheless. In fact, one of the first few things The Boss comments when he/she first gets them is "So you're saying we don't need cars anymore?" It becomes even more true when you unlock infinite sprint. You can travel faster than the fastest vehicle in the game by super sprint... really, who needs a car?
The armed helicopters, VTOLs and alien air vehicles remain useful throughout the game providing heavy weaponry when fighting larger alien mobs. Especially when they attack from multiple buildings. Being able to summon them in midair now, helps too.
VTOL's are also good for systematically combing areas for collectables. [[note How many games can make a jetbike sound boring?]]
The game throws a whole lot of cool and fun weapons at you, but if you're going to sink cache into upgrades, the basic weapons will be available the most often. When all your powers and weapons are taken away, these are the ones you're usually left with, and their upgrades will be applied to them even outside your own simulation.
Boxed Crook: The Zin Wardens were all prisoners guilty of crimes against the Zin Empire which were allowed into the simulation by Zinyak with one goal: break the Boss completely.
During the assassination missions, you will be required to kill old default versions of the Player/Boss from the first three Saints Row games, and your player character will pretty much refer to them as that. There are even multiple defaults for all the different races that somehow all count as the Boss's past self. Furthermore, the wall is demolished when you have to fight two at once and Kinzie screams "It's the co-op player!"
Shortly afterwards in that same mission, the Boss insists on standing and fighting a Warden... because they still have an empty power slot in their menu which they need to fill up by absorbing it.
A quote from the Boss after completing one of the many missions: "Aww man, it's just like being in a video game! Wink!"
During the mission where the President returns to the simulation of The Fifties to rescue Kinzie, they can open the weapons menu to find nothing but the unarmed option due to the story. Male and Female Voice 1 remark "That's the saddest radial menu I've ever seen".
Some error messages on the debug screen shown when crashing Simulation 31 do this:
Early in the game, Kinzie asked the Boss to shoot her in the head if she ever wore an outfit like the one the Boss was forced to wear in their Ironic Hell. Guess what happens when Kinzie is captured and thrown into her own Ironic Hell!
The robot versus power armor argument lasts until the final mission.
A seeming throwaway joke about the Boss loving Jane Austen in Keith David's Presidential speech turns out to be relevant after the credits.
Which in turn is a brick joke to the previous game, where in the penultimate mission the male voice 1 reveals that he's read Jane Eyre 13 times.
During Pierce's loyalty mission brief, Fun Shaundi tries to butt in and give the brief herself. Pierce then says "Dammit girl! My mission, my briefing!" This is a callback to the second game, when all Shaundi would do was steal Pierce's ideas and take all the credit.
Here's one that doubles as a Call Back to the third game. In the beginning of the game, when the Boss first makes it into the virtual Steelport, s/he tries to get Kinzie to sing "Opposites Attract" with him/her. She immediately declines. Later in the game, we get Pierce's loyalty mission. Guess which song they start singing together.
Whenever you have Johnny Gat in your crew, he may randomly comment about the Boss's hair; something that many characters (including Gat himself) had done in the second game in response to the player character being Suddenly Voiced (in addition to suddenly be able to play as a female character).
Brought Down to Badass: Almost every main story and loyalty mission strips the Boss of their super powers and removes access to the best alien weapons (basically, any device that qualifies for the Experimental Tech achievement). In fact, this was Yahtzee's main complaint: that the developers give the player all these awesome toys and then spend the rest of the game preventing them from using them.
Buffy Speak: When Kinzie is suddenly unable to give you advice on how to disable an alien vessel.
Gat: Come on, let's just blow up the biggest shiningest thing on this ship.
Their loyalty mission has the pause screen music from Saints Row 2 playing throughout.
The tiger from the third game becomes a pet in the White House. When lamenting that being a gang leader was more fun Boss will say s/he wants a septic truck, referencing one of the missions in the second game.
The White House is full of mementos of the Boss's past victories: Maero's minigun, Mr. Sunshine's voodoo doll, Killbane's mask, Jyunichi's swords, a scale model of the Daedalus, and the trophy for winning Genkibowl VII.
Ben King's rescue mission takes place in Stilwater, on the very same block where the first game began, complete with the man on his stoop selling counterfeit watches, the street walker propositioning you, and Vice Kings waiting to pounce the future Boss.
In one of the missions, you go through all of Professor Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax stages from SR3 in sequence. The best part? You got Johnny Gat with you, having fun like old times.
After crashing the simulation, you end up on the main menu of the first Saints Row.
Shaundi's loyalty mission has her and the Boss smoke a Fantastic Drug out of a broken light bulb just like an early mission in the second game.
Pierce's loyalty mission will once again have you and Pierce singing to a song. Basically "Opposites Attract" this time. But when you and Pierce try to sing "Just A Friend," OH SNAP, Zinyak had to go ruin it.
A homie conversation between Benjamin King and Johnny Gat references a cutscene from "Best Laid Plans", a mission from the first Saints Row game, in which Johnny gets shot in the leg by Tony.
After first being dumped into the Steelport simulation, the Boss asks Kinzie about whether the White House was destroyed, because if it was, they would build a newer, better one...replete with stripper poles.
The gateway in Loren Square is located exactly where the Boss and Shaundi land after escaping Loren's plane at the beginning of SR3.
The simulation of Steelport is one big callback for players of the third game as its layout is virtually identical, including the placement of most stores (looking for the fetish clothing shop? It's right where you left it, south of the airport). The only major thing that's different is one of the islands is no longer overrun with zombies.
Cool, but Inefficient: The vehicle system has been greatly expanded, adding several new and unique vehicles including tri-wheel motorcycles, retro 50s trucks and sedans, and freakin' monster trucks. You also don't have to lug cars to a specific spot to save them, you just get in and hit the reload button and its yours forever. A great expansion all around... made almost entirely pointless the moment you gain the Super Sprint power, which without upgrade lets you run faster than any car without risk of crashing or other bodily harm. Once you fully upgrade your speed you can outrun any vehicle at all, even jets, and with the addition of Super Jump and Super Glide helicopters become the least convenient option for ascending tall buildings. Even travelling long distances cross-town becomes trivial once more gateway/portal locations are unlocked.
Certain missions strip you of your superpowers, leaving vehicles as the only efficient way to get around. Unfortunately you usually have to use a specific vehicle, or at least are cut off from grabbing ones from your personal garage.
Also, a number of missions require driving, so it can't completely be avoided.
Cool Car: Monster trucks and retro cars from the second game return as available rides.
Covers Always Lie: You won't get to see a giant Saints Flow can attacking Washington D.C. In fact, you don't even get to play in Washington. The entire game, save for a brief section at the beginning in the White House, is set in a virtual Steelport.
Curtain Call: After the final story scene and before the credits roll. It consists of Boss, Shaundi, Matt, Gat, Asha, Pierce, CID, Ben, Kinzie, Keith David, and finally Zinyak taking turns dancing to the entirety of Montell Jordan's "This is How We Do It" Also doubles as a Dance Party Ending.
Cue the Sun: Virtual Steelport is Always Night, but throughout the game the time slowly changes to reflect the mood, becoming daytime near the end of the game.
Cultured Badass: Zinyak. He's an intergalactic conqueror with an appreciation for classic Earth literature.
Curb-Stomp Battle: In the simulation, the Boss from almost the very start has insanely powerful attacks, including punches that make cars fly across the street. There's still challenge from cops and aliens, but if the player decides to attack pedestrians, there's no match at all.
Once the Boss gets a tank for their vehicle inventory, most ground-level "flashpoint" battles can be concluded with one shot. (This isn't the case if there's a Warden boss fight afterwards as the Boss has to be on foot for those.)
Cutting Off The Branches: "Save Shaundi" is the canon ending from Saints Row: The Third. One developer in particular mentioned he couldn't live with a continuity where Burt Reynolds was dead. The first mission involves hunting down and killing Cyrus Temple, having gone terrorist.
The Enter the Dominatrix DLC reveals that the game was originally going to use a variant of the "Kill Killbane" ending as canon instead, with Pierce serving as Mayor of Steelport. However, Shaundi was somehow alive in this version, despite being supposedly blown up.
The "fast hijack" key combination has been changed from using the "hold sprint" key to the "toggle sprint" key, and is not remappable. Fortunately (or unfortunately) it doesn't come up much since hijacking vehicles quickly becomes pointless.
Radio tuning is now mapped to completely different buttons, rather than using the same buttons used for taunts and compliments. Unfortunate but necessary, since you can listen to the radio when on foot.
The plane controls in SR2 and 3 used the forward key for up and back for down. This game applies the usual flight simulator controls: push forward on the control stick to dive, pull back to climb.
Darker and Edgier: Well, darker anyway; the Steelport simulation is ( at least at first) usually permanently set to nighttime (at least, after the 1950s bit).
Benjamin King, as well: he was forced to drop his flags by the Saints in the first game, and is now the President's chief of staff.
Additionally, when you defeat the simulation of a previous antagonist, you generally get to reprogram them and have them on your side... although based on some of their comments if you have them hanging around, they view it as less than this and more a Fate Worse Than Death.
It's even lampshaded in the final mission name, "Punch The Shark".
Also lampshaded by Pierce and Shaundi if you call both of them.
Pierce: So...we went from Stillwater to Steelport to the White House, and now we're on an alien ship, floating in space, hooking our minds into some computer-generated virtual simulation. Shaundi: That about sums it up, yeah! Pierce: Huh... right. Shaundi: You think you've gone crazy, don't you? Pierce: Yeah, pretty much.
Determinator: Johnny Gat could be considered one as it's said that he was stuck in his Ironic Hell simulation for years yet still never cracked. Additionally, though he could never save Aisha by himself, that didn't stop him from trying every time he got to that point.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Summon any two homies and just wait. Almost every combination has a unique conversation. Although alas, this does not work with characters acquired through the Enter The Dominatrix DLC, fun though it would have been to watch Matt Miller hang out with NyteBlayde or Josh Birk.
Also averted, as anyone who has attempted to play through Enter the Dominatrix before a certain super power is attained ( telekinesis) has discovered. The Dev Team would gave been better off setting the DLC to unlock after the applicable mission.
Developer's Room: There is a hidden room in Let's Pretend that contains cut-outs of the development team's faces, as well as a secret weapon that is otherwise unobtainable: the Loud Locust.
Difficulty Spike: Act 3 of the game introduces the Marauder, a ball-shaped enemy that unfolds to form an explosive-shooting tripod robot. It hits like a tank (literally, its explosive weapon is identical in damage to that of a tank) and it will only take damage if shot from behind while unfolded. They are the most dangerous enemy the Zin can throw at you, and after they're introduced Marauders start showing up at a mere level 3 notoriety. To put that in perspective, you earn level 3 notoriety for starting the Hostage diversion.
Documentary Episode: "Enter the Dominatrix" features interviews with the characters between missions, which are treated like deleted scenes in a movie, complete with in-character commentary.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: Many players can expect some nostalgia when one of the first missions puts the Boss in a simulation based on an idyllic '50s sitcom with sinister undertones, much like the acclaimed "Tranquility Lane" quest from Fallout 3.
Drive-In Theater: One can be found inside the 50s version of Steelport if the player takes the time to look around between missions. It actually has pretty impressive detail even though it isn't used for any storyline or side mission content and even has a short movie listing on a nearby sign.
It eventually was used in the first mission of the ''How the Saints Saved Christmas" DLC.
Dummied Out content isn't limited to leftovers from the previous game: some content was clearly meant for SRIV before it became a proper sequel. The internal names of a number of audio logs correspond to SRTT-only characters like Viola or Oleg despite being repurposed for SRIV characters, and homie-to-homie conversations are set up for characters which never appear as homies in the normal game, like Philippe Loren.
Dump Stat: Stamina. You get Unlimited Sprint as a reward for completing Keith David's second side quest and can buy Unlimited Gliding at Level 13. Basically, the only reason to buy additional Stamina is to get the achievement for unlocking all upgrades (or if the player wants the additional mobility when "grinding" out cluster pick-ups and side missions early in the game).
Dynamic Entry: What better way to enter your future seat in the White House than by crashing in through the roof after destroying a nuclear missile?
Earn Your Happy Ending: How could things possibly be upbeat after Earth is destroyed? Simple: Not only is there a dance party ending, not only do the Saints go on a wacky roadtrip through time, but they're also able to revive thousands of people Zinyak abducted including the story's narrator... Jane FUCKING Austen.
Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Zinyak threatens to do this if the Boss escapes. He makes good on his promise. Poor Oleg and Josh...
Elemental Powers: Powers can be mixed-and-matched with various elements, each with its own effects:
Zinyak's personal guard, Zin with heavy weapons and super powers.
Enemy Mine: In what initially seems like a case of Defeat Means Friendship, you can unlock antagonists from the previous games as homies note or, more specifically, you recruit replicas of them that have been assembled from data in the simulation and have more or less been re-programmed to fight for your side.. Such characters include Tanya, Maero, Veteran Child, and even Julius. However, they retain their personalities and memories, and several conversations make it clear that they're not exactly thrilled to be working with the Saints, and vice versa.
Everyone Is Bi: All romance options are available to both genders. Averted with Keith David, who rejects the Boss either way, and, amusingly, with Pierce, who says he "usually doesn't swing that way" regardless of the gender you use for the Boss.
Boss did promise to rip Zinyak's head off. He should have taken the Boss more seriously.
The Epic Jump Quest achievement requires you to jump from the Three Count Casino to the nuclear plant without landing on the ground or the rooftops between them. It didn't say anything about running up the sides, however. Nor did it say anything about summoning an aircraft right after the first jump.
Face-Heel Turn: Keith David, of all people. He makes a deal with Zinyak to kill you off in exchange for restoring Earth.
Failure Knight: Shaundi, continued from her stoner-to-soldier transformation in the previous game, made worse after being forced to relive (in her mind) her failure to save Johnny.
Full-Frontal Assault: Everyone when they're liberated from the Lotus-Eater Machine. The Boss seems to be unfazed in the slightest, possibly because of their previous experiences (such as having fought their way through a SM club filled with heavily armed enemies while naked and drugged in the previous game, or optional streaking activities.)
If you have more than nine characters queued then the game will crash when trying to download them at Image As Designed.
The Genki Holiday Special activities from the "How the Saints Save Christmas" DLC will sometimes prevent you from picking up the Christmas trees and and occasionally crash the game as well.
Similar to the previous game, there's a point, specifically near the end of "The Real World", that players with sub-optimal rigs will be unable to pass due to their framerate being too low. This can be remedied by lowering the resolution of your game window.
If the National Treasure Edition is installed, the "Enter the Dominatrix" DLC will unlock upon completing "The Real World," an early mission. There are 5 missions in the DLC; the third mission can only be completed if the Boss has gained the power of telekinesis. This occurs at a point sometime after the events of "The Real World." Without this ability the third mission becomes impossible. This is not so much a bug as a case of poor planning, but either way the player pretty much has to go back to a save point prior to launching Enter the Dominatrix if they launch the DLC prematurely.
Game Within a Game: The Boss is trapped in a Wide Open Sandbox where you can do even crazier things than the Boss is normally able to do. That's right: Saints Row IV is about the Saints playing their own video game. Very meta. Additionally, one of the new collectible items are text adventure games that you can play while you play.
Genre Savvy: Johnny Gat knows exactly how to deal with an alien mothership. Find the biggest glowy thing and stick explosives on it.
At the beginning of the series, your character was a gangbanger fighting turf wars in your 'hood. By the second, Scarface, the third, a celebrity sell-out bank-robber. Then it got silly. Now it gets sillier: now, you are the President of the United States, donning enough super powers to put DC Comics to shame, fighting off an alien invasion.
Likewise, gameplay mechanics have slowly shifted. The original game was a dyed-in-the-wool Grand Theft Auto clone with a focus on gang warfare (including 4 different notoriety meters, instead of GTA's lone "stars" meter). Over time the games have shifted slowly into the action RPG genre, with the fourth game even using RPG terminology like "Quests" and "XP," having a concrete level system and providing perks based on character level. The extra notoriety meters have also been removed, though in IVs case it might be because unlike other installments, there is only one opposing faction.
Certain missions take this Up to Eleven, completely changing the genre yet again. For example, Johnny Gat's personal simulation is a 2D, sidescrolling Beat 'em Up with three levels and two boss fights.
Girls' Night Out Episode: Shaundi's loyalty mission is set up like this with the main focus being her and her past self learning to get along and work together. Boss (even if he is a guy) tags along too, but mostly just serves as a referee to make sure they don't kill each other.
A Glitch in the Matrix: The area around Rifts cause passersby to glitch, causing pedestrians to appear upside-down, have big heads, become heavily pixiliated, or appear all kinds of twisted and screwed up. The President can also use the "glitch" element with his powers to invoke this on their victims.
Aside from the Rifts, there are little tells in the simulation that reveal its artificiality, such as pedestrians and cars occasionally fizzing, or the bricks on buildings shimmering. It is, in fact, a random person fizzing in the 50's-style simulation that causes the Boss to finally realize that all is not as it seems.
"I'm the patron saint of America, we should probably look into changing the Pledge of Allegiance to 'One nation, under me'."
Zinyak. In the simulation he can mess with you in a variety of ways, and he lets you know it. It's pretty much to the point that he COMPLAINS about NOT being as godlike in the Enter the Dominatrix DLC... at all.
"I am the architect of your reality. I build what I want. I destroy what I want. And your bravado means nothing."
The virtual version of Maero has delusions of godhood, determined to take over the Steelport simulation.
Golden Snitch: There's no Forgive and Forget, and no hopping into stores to lose your notoriety. Notoriety will eventually decay to nothing, but to make it end instantly (especially at higher levels where all manner of alien and cop is after you), you must chase down a golden orb using super speed; catching and destroying it instantly removes all your notoriety. It's almost certainly a reference to the Trope Namer. This reference is lampshaded by Male Voice 3 (the British one), who asks if he needs a broomstick when Kinzie explains the orb's purpose. The game provides an achievement award for catching 100 of the things, which becomes more difficult if the player installs notoriety-decay speed upgrades.
The Energy Sword can be customized to blue ("The hero's choice") or red ("Zinyak's favorite color".) Why not green ("Because, you know, we already did red and blue".)
Grand Finale: The official website calls it the climactic chapter of the series, and interviews with the developers have leaned towards this being the final installment of the Saints Row series in its current continuity. Then again, perhaps the galaxy isn't enough for the Saints.
Grass Is Greener: The leader of the Saints is now the leader of the free world. In the game's opening, though, s/he laments how much more fun they had as a crime boss.
Ground Punch: The Death From Above superpower, which you activate from the air, and after choosing where you want to strike, fly towards the ground fist-first. With a certain upgrade, if you do it from high enough you cause a nuclear explosion.
The Stomp ability also has a ground punch-like effect.
You can also ground punch to a limited degree as the mech suit's default melee attack.
Guilty Pleasures: Some of the most action-packed moments of the game are accompanied by songs like Opposites Attract. And the characters sing along. And they are fully aware of how enjoyably cheesy these songs are.
The DJ for "The Mix" station says "What is Love" should not be a guilty pleasure, just a pleasure.
Hacking Minigame: This is how you gain control of stores in this game, instead of buying them like in previous games.
Hand Wave: How is your English/French/Russian/Nolan version of the Boss eligible for the presidency? Because the 31st Amendment allows for foreign-born Presidents.
Boss: Some of you may ask, am I even a legal candidate? To those people: fuck yourself, just go with it.
Happy Dance: The President does one after winning many minigames, such as Mayhem, Mind Over Murder and Fight Club.
Her Code Name Was Mary Sue: Boss thinks Matt's Nyteblayde simulation is a Mary Sue fanfic, but Matt insists it's not. Whether it actually is remains unknown, as Zinyak hacks the program and changes the ending, forcing Matt and Boss to kill the virtual Nyteblayde, and Matt take over the role.
Hopeless Boss Fight: Zinyak at the beginning of the game; it's all QTEs but he eventually gets the best of you regardless.
How We Got Here: The first cutscene depicts a person in face-concealing armor sitting on a throne. That person is the Boss after defeating Zinyak, sitting on their throne near the end of the game proper.
I Fought the Law and the Law Won: Now subverted. After you escalate to six bars, you have to fight a Warden... and winning that cleans your slate, at least until you start killing people again.
I Hate Past Me: Shaundi doesn't much like her old self. Also, several assassination missions are against targets that resemble what the Boss/Playa used to look like by default; the instruction is "shoot your old self." (Toilet and wireframe-Boss are also targets).
Present-day Shaundi: My problem? My problem is that I used to be you.
Improbable Weapon User: Bizarre weapons include black hole launchers, alien guns that make targets have giant heads, and a gun that shoots dubstep. Some weapon skins are like this too, like the guitar case rocket launcher, rubber band gun SMG, and water gun assault rifle.
The President: We're getting the band back together, then we're gonna kill Zinyak.
Benjamin King: That's not a plan; that's a goal!
Infodump: In 'Enter the Dominatrix', when Kinze begins explaining her plan and the brilliance of it, Pierce interrupts by fast forwarding. From the amount of activity going on around her, it must've been a long infodump.
The achievement for completing the mission "All Hands On Deck" is titled "Betrayed". No points for guessing what happens in that mission.
Ironic Hell: Zinyak place the Saints in virtual simulations of these at the start of the game where they're killed over and over again till The Boss and Kinzie break them free. They are as follows:
The Boss is first trapped in a violence-free 50s-style sitcom, and later stuck in a Zin-controlled Steelport where the Saints never became famous.
Matt is stuck in a text-based adventure where he is forced to confront Killbane.
Shaundi is forced to relive both the death of Johnny Gat and the time Veteran Child kidnapped her.
Ben King is forced to relive Tanya and Warren's takeover of the Vice Kings and his subsequent death at their hands.
Asha is forced to relive failing a mission where the Boss's Evil Twin kills Matt.
Gat is stuck in a 2D sidescroller where he is forced to relive Aisha's death.
Pierce is forced to confront Saints Flow mascots that have turned on him, including a giant mascot named Paul, as some bizarre metaphor for the Saints' brand overshadowing who they are.
Keith is forced to spout insanity about alien invasions to an ignorant public while Rowdy Roddy Piper tries to beat sense into him.
Kinzie is forced into the same 50's style simulation the Boss was stuck in, wearing a poodle skirt (she asked the Boss to shoot her in the head if she was ever forced to wear any such article of clothing).
And just off of the minor character roster, Jane Valderama is the DJ of K12. She was forcibly entered into a contract by Zinyak to operate the radio station. Listen for any length of time and she'll mourn the fact she can't report any real news.
Bobby and Zack are forced to present a new TV game show co-created by Zinyak and Genki, all while endlessly praising Zinyak. Bobby manages to hold himself together, but Zack breaks down in tears twice in the middle of the shows. He pretends it's due to a nightmare the second time because the first time, the Zin "punished" them for the outburst.
It's for a Book: The premise of all the side missions that King sends the President on.
Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: When we first met Cyrus Temple in Saints Row: The Third, he was the gung-ho leader of a special military unit that fought against the Saints. After the Boss saved Steelport's mayor and some homies from a STAG plot to frame the Saints for bombing a monument, thus becoming even more popular while disgracing Temple, what's a man to do but form a terrorist cell in the Middle East and plot to destroy Washington with a nuke?
Lampshade Hanging: The illogical inconsistencies regarding the simulation and how Zinyak can't impose perfect order within it despite having complete control over it are duly noted by the Boss, which results in Kinzie requesting him/her to "just go with it".
The Boss also decides to let go the fact that Zinyak just happened to have a virtual Steelport available should he/she escape from their 1950's prison.
Last Of Their Kind: The President, Shaundi, Pierce, Gat, Keith, Ben King, Kinzie, Matt Miller, and Asha are the last surviving members of the Saints after Zinyak destroyed Earth. Subverted when the Saints travel back in time to restore Earth at the end.
The ability to get Phillipe Loren as a Homie was Dummied Out, but his audio files are still in the game, including the conversation you get when both him and Johnny are in your squad. In it, the latter says "it's like someone is intentionally trying to put us together to see what'll happen."
When Julius asks him how he came to be in Simulated Steelport, Roddy Piper responds, "Needed the money." [[invoked
Leitmotif: The Zin Empire has a distinctive one that plays whenever something involving them happens. It's appropriately alien and sinister-sounding.
"Deep Silver and Volition present the climactic chapter of the saga that changed all the rules and blew the minds of a generation: S A I N T S R W... Hold up. I think we might've missed a letter there. (Sorry): SAINTS ROW IV."
Lethal Joke Character: Your common street Homies now aren't as effective, not being able to pick up weapons off the ground and are otherwise stuck with whatever weapons they have (excepting "normal" unique Homies who do pick up enemy weapons). They are also capable of destroying those Marauder ball-tanks without resorting to Attack Its Weak Point. Even better, put them into the turret of a vehicle (The alien turreted cars, but especially the Alien Tank), and watch them turn into a relentless killing machine.
On that note, Unique normal Homies can pick up weapons up until the dreaded Alien RPG. Unlike previous games, where giving them explosive weapons is a recipe for disaster, the AI in this game has been tweaked so that they only fire when the player is not close to either them or the target. Suddenly they become very, very practical.
Lethal Joke Item: In addition to the "serious" weapon skins the game includes many "joke" skins that are surprisingly effective. Why use a standard SMG when you have access to a high velocity rubber band launcher? Why blast aliens with rifles when you have a super soaker that shoots lasers? Why not kick some ass using a gun made entirely out of blocks? The devs even put in a dubstep gun equipped with explosive wubs! The basement at Let's Pretend also has its own special little easter egg for the players to find...
Lighter and Softer: The series' shift in tone from the earlier games is acknowledged by the opening narration as the Saints stepping away from their gang roots to have, "more fun, [and] less mercy killing[s]," which in turn revitalized them as pop culture icons. Make no mistake though, the Saints still kill a lot of people. Not to mention the whole Earth getting blown to bits thing.
The "Commander in Chief Edition", available to everyone who pre-orders the game, gives you an Uncle Sam outfit, a Screaming Eagle jet, and the 'Merica weapon in-game.
The "Super Dangerous Wub Wub Edition" includes the bonus items, and also includes a replica dubstep gun, dubstep doomsday button, and a Johnny Gat memorial statue.
The "Emperor Zinyak's Game of the Generation Edition" comes with all that, and a light-up rotating display case for the game and a velvet pouch.
The "Super Dangerous Wad Wad Edition", which there is only one copy of and costs one million dollars, comes with the Commander in Chief edition, the dubstep gun, spy training, a trip to outer space, a Lamborghini, a one year membership to the E25 Super Car Club, plastic surgery, a shopping spree, a weeks trip to the Jefferson Hotel in Washington, a hostage rescue experience, a Toyota Prius with insurance, and a week's vacation to Burj-al-arab. It's also a designers' hoax, but who cares?
The "Ultra Super Ultimate Deluxe Edition", exclusive to Japan, includes all of the DLC released internationally.
The bizarro future version of Steelport is a computer simulation made by the invading aliens to imprison the Boss and crew.
Zinyak started by trying to trap you in a cheesy fifties style simulation. But you eventually break free of it to which he sends you to a more "chaotic environment".
Magic Skirt: For all the running, jumping, and acrobatic fight moves you can do, even the skimpiest skirts will remain modestly around the President's hips and thighs. The view during gliding is straight between the President's spread thighs, but the skirt somehow folds to completely mask the crotch.
Magikarp Power: Most of the guns just plain suck...until you upgrade them at the store. Unupgraded mundane weapons only plink the enemy, but become devastating and have cool new tricks when fully modded. The aliens weapons also suck until you improve their charging time and other features, like making the bounce rifle hit five or six targets at once.
Mary Sue: Although generally a YMMV trope, in Matt Miller's loyalty mission it is directly invoked as a storytelling trope when the Boss discovers the mission is nothing more than a big piece of Mary Sue fanfic, with the trope mentioned by name.
When two more pop out for the Saints Row 2 default Boss, the President asks why a second one was accompanying the first. Kinzie explains that the second is the "co-op player".
If the player doesn't touch the controls for a period of time, the Boss will start saying things like "pick up the controller, pick up the controller..." Possibly due to a glitch, the Boss may even say this when coming out of a mission.
Metal Slime: Like in Saints Row: The Third Professor Genki randomly appears on the streets murdering NPCs. Instead of a rocket launcher, he now has Telekinesis and Stomp, has less health and drops $70k when defeated down from $400k as a result of IV having less of a focus on wealth.
Mini-Mecha: The aliens have 12-foot high power loader suits that you can commandeer, and even take it on Mayhem activities! The Mini-Mecha's status of straddling the line between "power armor" and "giant robot" make all the Saints continually bicker over which it is.
Mission Pack Sequel: Shouldn't surprise anyone, considering the game was originally intended to partiallynote Volition has stated that Saints Row IV started development 2 months before The Third was even finished and most of the planned Enter the Dominatrix DLC was scapped with the rest being incorporated into Saints Row IV. be a DLC for Saints Row: The Third; as such, the engine and lot of assets are reused and much of the city layout hasn't changed. Fortunately, the gameplay innovations, outrageous premise and new customization options in addition to the old ones seem to have most critics agreed that it's a full fledged game in its own right. Averted, now that Enter the Dominatrix is DLC for the game as well as How the Saints Saved Christmas.
Like in Saints Row: The Third, completely averted in terms of money. Even by the time you get to the endgame, you will still have a bunch of weapon and characters upgrades to buy. Somewhere between five and ten times as much money is required to fully upgrade everything compared to the previous game, which already avoided the problem.
Played straight with super power upgrades, as you will have way more Data Clusters than skills to upgrade by endgame.
Mood Whiplash: As always the Saints Row games have great humor before subjecting you with something horrifying. Case in point, when you escape into the real world with "What Is Love?" blasted on the radio, you try to contact Oleg from space and he doesn't take the call because it's out of the area code. It's filled with all the fun and humor in a Saints Row game... and then a few moments later, Zinyak blows up Earth entirely without remorse.
Mrs. Claus: Mary Claus in the Christmas missions, who kicks butt in a flowing, mid-length Happy Holidays Dress, and becomes a homie after a few missions.
Multiple Endings: If you finished all the loyalty missions and unlocked super powers for your homies you get the Golden Ending, in which the Saints defeat Zinyak as usual, but also discover the Zin's Time Travel capabilities, allowing them to take a fun road trip through time and save the Earth before Zinyak blows it up. If you didn't, you instead get the bittersweetBad Ending, where after beating Zinyak, the Saints don't discover the time travel capabilities and instead simply take over the Empire.
My Greatest Failure: Various conversations with former antagonists turned virtual Homies suggest they never were able to get past ultimately losing to the Saints. Julius and Maero are particularly bitter. Also, Shaundi's change in personality is explained as never-ending guilt over feeling responsible for Gat's presumed death and feeling useless when she was a nymphomaniac stoner.
Nail 'Em: Comes in 3 different types with the Flavor Text on the default one even being the trope name itself.
The Boss himself is somewhat less powerful than he was in The Third. Some of the more powerful upgrades have been removed, most notably complete immunity to specific damage types (the only one still remaining is fire immunity) and no reloads. This is made up for by the extremely strong super powers you can unlock, but since you don't have them outside of the simulation, the few missions that take place in the real world are somewhat more difficult (though there is the Mech suit to make up for this at one point).
To make up for health pickups, health no longer regenerates during a combat situation. This adds up to a major nerf because trading damage and jumping into a vehicle to regenerate is no longer an option.
The Heavy Pistol (.45 Shepherd in the previous game) is far weaker than it was in The Third at first, literally doing 2/3rds the damage, requiring several upgrades to reach the same damage output that the Shepherd could reach with just one upgrade. When Dual Wielding, the Heavy Pistol also has a lower fire rate, even when fully upgraded. Despite that, the Heavy Pistol actually has a higher per-damage shot than the Shepherd once fully upgraded, though it's overall damage rate is lower.
Speaking of pistols, the Quickshot Pistol, a replacement for the previous game's KA-1 Kobra, has been hit pretty hard with the Nerf hammer: it also does about 2/3rds the damage of the previous game's weapon, and further upgrades to damage won't bring anywhere near what a fully upgraded KA-1 can do. In fact, it barely gets up to what a non-upgraded KA-1 is capable of.
Never Trust a Trailer: The pre-release videos seem to indicate that the plot will hinge on driving the aliens from Earth, and the presidency bit is played up for all it's worth. In the game proper, the Earth is blown to smithereens not too long in, making the presidential status irrelevant aside from a few moments, and the tale becomes one of avenging the planet instead.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: After destroying the earth, Zinyak puts full blame on the Boss' lifestyle and actions for leading to that event.
Most of the Boss' campaigning, since there's a five-year Time Skip between the opening mission and the time they've been elected president. We get small snippets of info, such as their apparently being... "caught" with a reporter. It's also suggested they only won the election because of their team of Hypercompetent Sidekicks.
What exactly did the Boss do to cause their approval rating to drop to twenty points?
Whatever reason Kinzie has for rescuing Keith David first. All she says is that he "is on the way" and cuts Keith off when he tries to protest.
One rescue mission has you running through the plane from the start of The Third, in reverse.
Ben King's rescue mission takes place where you started the very first Saints Row.
The rescue of Johnny Gat has you reliving events from SR1 and SR2.
Johnny's loyalty mission has you playing through all the stages of Professor Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax from The Third, one after another, while the Boss gives Johnny a crash course on everything that happened from his "death" to his rescue.
Many of the major characters from the previous game note Burt, Viola, Angel and Zimos. Josh and Oleg also get very little screentime. don't even appear in this one, and only a few are even offhandedly mentioned. None of the DLC characters (or events, other than Genkibowl VII) are even mentioned, and Jane Valderama also only exists now as the DJ for the K12 radio station and no longer gives any news reports. In addition, the generic Red Shirt Saints you can find walking around are sort of just... there. They don't contribute or play any role in the plot (no matter how minor) like in previous games, and seem to exist only to shoot any cops that wander by and help you out if you recruit them as Homies. It's never even explained how they got into the simulation in the first place. They just suddenly start spawning after completion of an early mission.
Several members of the main cast are noticeably absent for the entire "Enter the Dominatrix" DLC and don't even appear as part of the background. Justified since the DLC was originally meant for Saints Row: The Third where these characters weren't introduced (or reintroduced) yet. In fact, many older characters like Zimos, Josh and even Donnie make a return after being absent from the main story for a while.
Out-of-Genre Experience: The first mission is a seriously-taken pastiche of Modern Warfare-style modern military shooters, unlike the more comedic tone of the rest of the game, down to the breaching scene and using a knife for melee attacks rather than Groin Attacks or pro-wrestling moves.
Outside Ride: You can still get around the city surfing on top of cars.
People Jars: What the Zin initially use to hold the Boss and his crew inside the simulation. There are even a few parts in the game where the Boss passes through entire hallways filled with these. Once Earth is destroyed, it's all that is left of the human race besides the main characters.
Planet Spaceship: The Zin Mothership. It's so big that the Saints are able to hide their stolen battleship inside it for days (perhaps weeks), during which they spend most of their time trying to track down the location of Zinyak's throne room.
Pop Goes the Human: The Inflato-Ray fires a beam of energy that expands the target until they explode and serves as a One-Hit Kill on both normal humans and Zin troops unless it's quickly interrupted. To balance this out it has zero effect on both robots and vehicles.
Powered Armor: Besides the Mini-Mecha, the game has a more compact set of this that you don in the last mission. It lets you to use your superpowers in the real world in order to take on Zinyak on equal terms, and it also packs a Hand Blast weapon. You may also use it in the sandbox mode proper once you beat the game, albeit without the hand blast; it's referred to as the Iron Saint outfit.
Power Glows: The President glows when using Super Speed and Super Jump, and you can't see the effect of Telekinesis unless his hand and the object he's lifting with it glows. The data clusters that grant the powers glow like a beacon, making them easier to spot from the air.
Pre-Order Bonus: Depending on where you pre-order your game, you can get outfits based on various presidents, superhero costumes, or USA-themed items. PC owners who pre-ordered the game on Steam gained access to three Team Fortress 2 weapons: the Soldier's Rocket Launcher, the Pyro's Flamethrower, and the Rainblower.
President Evil: The Boss, criminal leader of the Third Street Saints gang, has been elected President of the US, even if they might not even be an American. (One of the male voice options in SR2 and SR3 has a distinct British accent; one of the female voice options in SR3 is a Russian accent and one of the new female voices has a French one.) Perhaps saving Washington D.C.from a nuclear missile buys a lot of political capital...
One of the journal covers showcasing character presets explains the ability to choose a Latino-American woman with a constitutional amendment.
Promoted Fanboy: In universe example. Matt Miller's loyalty quest ends with you, as last surviving world leader, giving him the Nyteblayde franchise.
Pronoun Trouble: Volition was unwilling or unable to get two different sets of lines for referring to the President in the third person, so they are almost always referred to with the gender-neutral "them" instead of "him" or "her."
Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Kill somebody and/or cause general havoc while playing as Male Voice 1 and he will sometimes spout this line:
I! AM! AWESOME!
Punctuated Pounding: It's played with the first time Zinyak and The Boss fight. The Boss does it while being slammed against the wall.
Really Gets Around: The game spoofs the trend towards games featuring romance and sexual activity by making it dead easy for the Boss, regardless of gender, to have sex with (almost) every major character (even CID the beach ball-shaped robot) at any time, as many times as he or she wants, when visiting the spaceship safehouse.
Reality Ensues: The Boss may have beaten countless numbers of gangsters, policemen, even a State Sec with futuristic weapons, but nothing prepares them for a massive alien overlord with superpowers. The Boss tries, oh do they put up a fight, but once Zinyak decides to stop playing around and use his powers the first fight quickly becomes a Curb-Stomp Battle in the villain's favor.
Also, it turns out that psychotic gangsters make poor national leaders, as America is going down the tubes and the Boss's approval ratings make Nixon's look enviable.
Red and Black and Evil All Over: The Xin's technology is typically black with red Tron Lines. Opposing this, when The Boss takes control of an area it turns blue, while the Saints' vehicles are purple and white.
Shaundi's rescue mission is introduced as being Johnny Gat's, since it's Philippe Loren's airplane in which Johnny Gat was believed to have been shot and killed. The intro recap cutscene is also about Johnny Gat. The mission is even titled "Back By Popular Demand." But then you open the cockpit door... It's not lying, though. A lot of people did complain about Shaundi in 3, saying they preferred the Saints Row 2 incarnation. And who do you get as a homie after the mission?...
All those choices you made in "The Saints Wing". You'd expect something to come of them, even as a small Brick Joke... but nothing of the sort happens.
Required Secondary Powers: Due to the lack of parachute and the addition of Super Jump and quick recovery when knocked down, there is no such thing as fall damage when within the simulation (i.e. for the vast majority of the game).
Retcon: In Saints Row 2, the key to defeating Veteran Child is hitting him with flashbang grenades. During Shaundi's rescue mission, the Veteran Child boss fight is recreated, but as there are no grenades in this game, the method is changed to shocking him with a stun gun instead. Boss also helps Shaundi home in the second game, where the intro to this mission suggests Gat did instead.
Additionally, Gat's presumed death from The Third was retconned in IV, and the absurdity of the explanation is lampshaded.
Retirony: One of the (virtual) mooks in Asha's simulation was two (virtual) weeks from (virtual) retirement when you (virtually) stab him to (virtual) death.
Retraux: A late game mission features a retro style beat-em-up, complete with pixellated graphics and badly-digitized voices.
Romance Sidequest: Parodied. You may "romance" all your teammates at the touch of a single button. This includes CID the spherical AI drone, although Keith David wants to keep things professional, and you're much more interested in King's autograph.
Boss: "I know over the years you've heard this speech a bunch of times..."
Ben King: "Heard it? Bitch, I wrote it."
Boss: ...but we need to remember why we do what we do. And today the stakes are even higher. Earth is gone. It's not coming back and nothing we do today is going to change that. But one thing we can do is get revenge. And you better believe we're showing this motherfucker humanity isn't dead because we're still alive. This isn't about hope, or faith, or even about winning. Kinzie's right, those things died on Earth. This is about will. This is about saying I don't give a shit how many times you knock me down, I'm still breathing I'm standing right back up and ya know what? You can hit as hard as you want 'cause when I hit back I'm gonna lay your ass out, bitch! It's our time now, let's get this shit started!
Zinyak tries to pull one on you while you're on your way to rescue Matt, by choosing to either rescue Matt but endure more of Zinyak's wrath, or let yourself die but save the others. It's Shmuck Bait however, as choosing the second option reveals it to be a trap.
Defied in Shaundi's loyalty mission, when virtual Veteran Child splits into two clones and grabs present Shaundi and SR2 Shaundi, he barely gets enough time to say "make your choice" before both Shaundies say "fuck that", grab his gun, and shoot the clone holding the other one hostage in perfect sync.
The previous game gave the player a choice between one of two outcomes at the end of each strand of missions. This mechanic was widely panned for having no effect on the story (with the exception of the last choice) and very little on the gameplay. "The Saints Wing" mocks its predecessor by offering the player three totally innocuous choices that have no effect whatsoever on the game.
In one of his audio logs, Keith David takes special note (apropos of very little) that video games are not widely known for great storytelling.
Sequel Hook: Both the good and bad endings provide a possible sequel hook.
In the good ending, once Zinyak is defeated, the Saints find out that he was dabbling in time travel, a prospect that intrigues them. Time for a temporal road trip!
In the bad ending, the Saints take control of Zinyak's galactic empire, much like they took control of a corporate empire at the end of the second game.
Sequence Breaking: The tower climbing puzzles have one intended solution where you jump from platform to platform and scale walls to eventually reach the top. If you have enough Super Jump upgrades, it's possible to beat the towers way faster by just jumping to the highest platform your jump height allows. The game discourages this by spreading Data Clusters around on the platforms - you can finish the tower in record time, but you will deprive yourself of quite a few upgrade points if you do so.
Asha's Romance option also invokes this, or more implies it, as well as referencing the interaction with Kinzie.
Asha: What do you want?
Protagonist: I'm looking for rough sex and Kinzie scares the shit outta me.
Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Awful events like the deaths of 7 billion people on Earth along with Josh and Oleg are balanced by the Saint's absolute refusal to give up. This eventually pays off as the nine-member crew successfully defeats the Zin Empire against all odds and rescue those captured on Zinyak's flagship.
Smug Snake: Zinyak consistently behaves like the exasperatingly arrogant villain he is and always seems to be one step ahead of the Saints. He keeps this act until the very end when you finally defeat him and rip his head off.
Although he does get a Villainous Breakdown moment during the final battle when your allies start giving support to you by distracting his goons while you attempt to shut off the generators that power the shield enshrouding him.
Let's not forget piloting an alien spaceship escaping from pursuit while Haddaway's "What Is Love?" plays on the radio. Additionally, the ability to use the radio outside of cars can lead to this organically.
Spontaneous Choreography: The Dubstep Gun forces all civilians to stop where they stand and dance while the gun fires. Not only that: people hit by the gun will fall in time to the music, cars will stop and pop their hydraulics, and street lamps will blink in time to the music.
Squee: Matt Miller gives a rather earsplitting one when meeting Nyteblayde in the (digital) flesh. Even though Matt programmed the scenario as part of his fanfiction fantasy and knew that (virtual) Nyteblayde was coming.
If you got the good ending, the post-credits sequence has The Boss shown people frozen in Zinyak's personal collection. He sets about freeing them, the first of which turns out to be the narrator of the story, Jane Austen.
After the credits of the "How the Saints Save Christmas" DLC, Santa is released from the simulation and calls out for anyone as he looks around puzzlingly.
Stock Scream: In this trailer, a mook is shot god-knows-how-high into the sky with telekinesis. The last thing he utters before becoming A Twinkle in the Sky is the Wilhelm Scream.
Stock Superpowers: A wide array of superhuman abilities are available to you inside the aliens' Lotus-Eater Machine. It's worth noting that Zinyak and his elite guard apparently can perform the same feats in real life too.
An Ice Person: You can turn enemies into meat popsicles and then shatter them into a million pieces.
Playing with Fire: You can imbue yourself with fire, making your bullets incendiary and setting anyone foolish enough to get too close to you alight.
Life Drain: Telekinesis can be altered to suck the life out of whatever you hold, healing you.
Mind over Matter: You can lift cars into the air and throw them at enemies with the power of your mind.
Not Quite Flight: You can leap tall buildings in a single bound, and glide through the air.
Simulated. The virtual reality puts you into The Fifties at several points in the game.
At the end of the game, Zinjai confirms that the Zin have actual time travel, which Zinyak used to make copies of many of Earth's most notable residents.
Timed Mission: Parodied in the mission "Ghost in the Machine". At one point, Kinzie will tell you to defend a location while she uploads some data. When the Boss asks how long it will take, she replies with 55 minutes. The game goes as far as to display a timer counting down from 55:00 and have the Boss comment that "these things usually take three to five minutes, tops." Don't worry, the time gets decreased to a more reasonable amount later.
Took a Level in Jerkass: Compared to her portrayal in The Third, Kinzie is considerably more sarcastic and condescending towards the Boss. Her audio logs suggest this is due to a combination of grief over Oleg's death and bitterness over Matt being Easily Forgiven.
Took a Level in Kindness: By contrast to the above, Shaundi is far less spiteful and rude then she was in The Third, especially once her Loyalty Mission is completed.
The Boss gets another one, going from a "Fun & Lovable" homicidal maniac in The Third to just plain Fun & Lovable outside the simulation, saving the actual homicidal rampages strictly for the evil Zin Empire.
Troll: Zinyak will go out of his way just to annoy the President, including singing over songs that the President and his homies are enjoying in the car. One of his better stunts is changing Planet Saints into his empire's brand, with both models of Earth exploding on display and the planet's destruction constantly replaying on the store's monitors.
Suprisingly Averted or at least downplayed. The Boss is still a crazy sociopath but he spends the whole game actually doing heroic things and saving his teammates rather than heinous deeds.
At the start of the game, The Boss and the Saints actually save the USA from a terrorist attack. After the alien invasion, The Boss saves his teammates from the simulation world and at the same time leads humanity's war against the alien invaders. Gameplay wise, even when the player is killing civilians and causing mayhem, this is only in the simulation world so he technically isn't even committing crimes.
According to developer interviews, this premise instantly made the test players much more likely to commit violence towards bystanders.
Vocal Dissonance: In addition to giving your character voices for a character of the opposite gender, you can also adjust your character's voice's pitch anywhere from sounding like a parakeet on helium to a demonic-sounding baritone.
Voice with an Internet Connection: Most often Kinze, but everyone speaks to you remotely when you take a quest from them. Even if their avatar is standing next to yours in the simulation, even if you're physically in nudging distance in reality.
Vomit Indiscretion Shot: The Boss hurls a couple times after first leaving the simulation aboard the Zin's mothership.
The War on Terror: The game's first mission is a Call of Duty-ish commando raid on an Afghani style terrorist compound where Cyrus Temple is hiding.
Wham Episode: "The Real World". It's fairly lighthearted for most of its duration, with an amusing sequence in which you escape the Zin Mothership while "What Is Love?" plays. Then the mission ends with Zinyak the Earth, reducing almost every side character, cool location, and everything you owned in the first three games to dust.
What Could Have Been: Everything in the Trivia tab examples and more are also In-Universe examples throughout the Fourth Wall Breaking "Enter the Dominatrix" DLC. One example unique to the DLC is a fight scene shown in rough storyboards in which Nyteblade sacrifices himself slaying a giant cyclops, and is touchingly mourned by Shaundi and Kinze.
What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Just how human the residents of Simulation 31 are meant to be seems variable. The player is invited to go on rampages against simulated pedestrians without guilt, but simulated versions of named characters like Fun Shaundi are treated as though they were fully sapient individuals.
This may be partially explained in the first 1950s simulation mission, as the pedestrians begin emitting nonsensical zombie-like moans once the President stops going along with the simulation, presumably because their programming is too simple to cope. Truly sentient AI seems few and far between in the simulation; in other words, shooting a random simulation NPC may be no worse than assaulting a particularly complex toaster.
There's also some deliberate ambiguity with Roddy Piper, as conversations between him and two other homies reveals that nobody is sure if he's the real person or just a sentient AI from Keith David's simulation.
CID calls out the Boss on their treatment of Pierce. The Boss tries to explain to him that it's all in good fun. Notably, the Boss does treat Pierce with respect for the rest of the game.
Kinzie gives probably the most damning in the series after the Boss gives Matt a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown for not wanting to risk exposing their location to Zinyak in order to save Johnny.
Kinzie: You're asking Matt and I to paint a target on humanity's last chance so YOU can go and rescue someone we've never even met! And what's stupider is that we're going along with it! That guy you just beat the shit out of is risking everything to save your friend. And you wanna know why? Because we can't save ours anymore! Oleg is dead! Viola is dead! EARTH... is dead! So how about you stop being a fucking asshole and say 'thank you' for giving us the hope he'll never have.
Asha gives one during her rescue mission. The Boss assumes Asha's greatest fear was them. Asha calls them out on their self-centeredness, and states what her real fear is.