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Finally, a good game.
All this emphasis on in depth story telling, cinematics, more grounding, more realism, more grittiness, is all well and good but its nice to have a game like this where they go out of their way to give you every possible excuse to cut loose and do ridiculous stuff.

This game takes full advantage of it's premise of being in a simulation. To fight back against the people who put you there, its your sacred duty to do all the stuff you like to do in GTA-type games, crashing cars, killing people, hacking, stealing, causing mayhem, you must do these things because its going to help you beat a bunch of aliens. Its a stretch at best if you really want to think about it, but do you really want to think about it? Probably not.

On top of this, as the game goes, you get a boatload of superpowers, space ships, mecha, a gun that shoots blackholes, because why not? And of course, the Dubstep gun. A gun that makes everybody start dancing to the beat. I'm probably a quarter of the way through this game and they just keep taking advantage of the premise to give your President Superpimp more toys to play with and more ways to play with them. My character is a sexy Marilyn Monroe style blonde bombshell with the voice of Nolan North (Thats right, they don't even make you match the voice with an appropriate body, this is all about the fun). I'm not even the sort of person who normally enjoys kicking grandma's in GTA type games but they do such a good job in the beginning of this game of introducing the tone and the characters that I've now kicked my share. Every last thing about this game says "Cut loose. We sure as hell did."

I haven't played the previous games and I don't care to. In the first five minutes, this game told me what I needed to know. When a mob boss turns President of the United States and drafts a bill titled the "Fuck Cancer" bill, you know what you're in for.
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Marginally Better Than 3
I honestly didn't expect much from IV when I first heard of it, since it looked like a fancy expansion pack for the last game. Same graphics, same crap setting, same emphasis on being 'quirky'...But I was pleasantly surprised.

Saints Row IV does a great deal to refine a lot of the faults that the third game had, making combat feel more fluid and things like weapon customization and character customization being greatly improved. The new super powers also allow you to explore Steelport much better, breathing some life into the city. It's not much of an improvement, but better than nothing. Plus the new 'simulation' setting does add interesting graphical effects to the world.

Side activities are improved too. The dev team have finally thought to remove the atrocious side missions like trafficking and snatch, and instead they've added in much more enjoyable things like Mech Suit Mayhem and Super-Power Fight Club. The game also seems to take a LOT of inspiration from Mass Effect 2, with the ship-based hub and the loyalty missions from your crew...just wish there was the same level of character to these ones. Your interactions with your relationships with your crew mates are pretty shallow with no actual development. Plus most of your crew are assholes 99% of the time anyway...

The game has its share of other flaws. For all the build up your superpowers get,the game is fucking eager to take them away whenever it can. I think you spend more of the story missions without powers than with them...And whenever you're in a mission without them you're stuck with some really shitty health regeneration and no grenades. The newer weapons are fairly gimmicky too. The weapon wheel is still a fickle mistress to boot. Still, the game is pretty fun and all the side activities give a good degree of length to it.

Part of me wonders where else the franchise will go from here. Seems they've written themselves into a corner again...unless they want to make a full-on Mass Effect rip-off. And by that logic the next game or the game after will have a horrendous ending...
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