It's Saints Row IV's crazy intro that sets the pace for the rest of the game. From here what you will experience will undoubtedly make gaming history. The Saints Row franchise has always been wallowing in the Grand Theft Auto series' shadow, but it is its silliness and sense of humour that truly makes Saints Row an equal to Rockstar Games big hitter. Saints Row is Grand Theft Auto's little brat brother, if you will.
There's not too much that I can say without spoiling the story for you, except for touching slightly upon the plot, which I assume most of you already know. Five years after the events of Saints Row: The Third, the leader of the Third Street Saints is elected President of the United States after saving the world from a nuclear disaster. Then there's an alien invasion and you, the protagonist, and the remaining Saints are kidnapped by aliens known as the Zin and their leader Zinyak. The protagonist is transported to a virtual version of Steelport where he, or she, can use super powers to fight against the Zin empire. Think the Matrix meets Independence Day... awesome, right?
From here things only get better. After the intro you are greeted with a familiar character customization screen. The Saints Row games have always been praised for the incredible amount of character customization, and Saints Row IV is no exception. My entire first day of play was spent playing with this feature. It took me several turns, but eventually I had a character I was very pleased with. The voice work is also top-notch. Though there are not many options when it comes to selecting your characters voice, one thing that had me in stitches was seeing this: Female 1, Female 2, Female 3, Nolan North. That's right, you can play AS Nolan North. If you choose the Nolan North option certain dialogs will play out differently because, well, you are friggin' Nolan North.
Despite being a Saints Row game, the story is brilliant. It manages to touch some pretty deep topics while remaining true to the genre by just being plain stupid. There's not too much I can say here, I really don't want to spoil anything for you, but, in a nutshell, Saints Row IV quickly becomes the Naked Gun equivalent of the video-game industry. Almost everything significant that's happened in the past 15 years regarding pop-culture, film, music, and gaming is made fun of. Harry Potter to Zero Dark Thirty and 8bit Text Adventures to Metal Gear Solid... it pretty much covers everything, and it does so with class and style.
There's a lot of fun to be had in virtual Steelport. Everything you loved about the past Saints Row games is back. The Insurance Fraud missions, Professor Genki's challenges... it's all there, and then some. However, I barely found myself straying far from the main missions to play these side-quests or mini-mission because I got hooked on the main story quests; they are both insanely fun and hilarious. Exploring virtual Steelport in a vehicle is also great, vehicles controls feel so smooth and it is an absolute pleasure to just cruise around town, but unfortunately you wont be doing a lot of driving in Saints Row IV; the new Matrix-esque super-powers you gradually earn while playing through the main quests make it easier traveling by foot making vehicles redundant. You will eventually be able to sprint faster than a lot of cars and leap to the top of some buildings at ease. It's like Prototype 2 only a hell of a lot better.
As a third person shooter Saints Row IV also feel right. The mechanics do the game justice and never feel tacked-on. In fact, if Volition stripped all other features from the game and made Saints Row IV a grounded third person shooter it would still be a lot of fun. I played the PC and the PlayStation 3 version so this is true in both cases. The refined shooting mechanics make every weapon fun and easy to use, even though there is a heavy focus on your super-powers you will often find yourself using your arsenal of powerful weapons to take down enemies rather than actually using your super-powers. This doesn't necessarily mean using your super-powers isn't fun, as a matter of fact the super-powers are a lot of fun... the only problem was, and I found this to be the case mainly on the PC, that switching between powers can often be confusing and frustrating. Once you do get used to the controls, though, you will most likely abuse your powers; Freeze Blast, Fire Blast, Telekinetic Throw and The Warden Stomp, just to name a few, are all great powers that you will benefit from once you learn to use them properly.
Saints Row IV's is aesthetically beautiful. Though it does suffer from a few current gen glitches and drawbacks like clipping and such, there really isn't much to complain about. The console version, on the other hand, is starting to show its limits. Graphically, there is not much difference between Saints Row The Third and Saints Row IV on console. So, if graphics really matter to you, the PC version that is available on the Steam store would be the best option for you--other than that, Saints Row IV is pretty much the same amazing experience on both PC and PlayStation 3, so you can't really go wrong no matter what version you get.
Saints Row IV is far from being a perfect game and it doesn't do much, if anything at all, to revolutionize the genre... but here it doesn't matter. The Saints Row franchise had already set itself aside from other open-world sandbox games for being over-the-top, out-of-this-world and just flat-out fun, but Volition have gone that extra step further to make Saints Row IV the best damn parody and homage to everything we both loved and hated in the last 15 years. It's Saints Row IV's humour that ultimately makes this game one of the greatest experiences of this year; it's insane... it's stupid... and ridiculously fun. It is all of these things yet it remains classy and stylish. If your heart is beating the chances are you will most likely love Saints Row IV.