So I got my hands on Saints Row IV. After the first 5 minutes of gameplay, I was absolutely sold on this game; I expected a GTA clone, and got pure, liquid fun. I did, however, find odd that the game had every single customization option unlocked and ready to play with, and I hadn’t even completed the first actual campaign mission. That set me thinking: What’s the difference between SRIV and other games that lets it give you every customization option right from the start?
To start off, Saints Row IV’s default setting is as far from the truth as it can get: It’s a computer simulation controlled by the bad guys. Right off the bat you get Super Speed and Super Jump, so you can have the most fun you can. The weapons you have are fully customizable right from the start, and you can get any car for free, given that you drive and save it first. This sort of stuff would normally ruin a game, so why did Volition and Deep Silver do that?
It’s a show of confidence.
Unlockables of all sorts, be they new characters, weapons, vehicles, anything, generally exist to give the player incentive to play. The fewer unlockables a game has, or shows out in the open, the more confident it is that it’s fun. Think about a recent game. Say, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. That game has an extremely limited amount of Mii Fighter Costumes that it leaves available from the start (A total of 9). You have to accomplish milestones or play Classic Mode for a chance of getting a Mii Fighter Costume. Saints Row IV, however, throws everything right your way and gives you XP (which goes toward upgrades) for everything. Hijack a car? XP. Slam into a wall after launching said car over a ramp and bailing out midway through to see the car explode in the midst of a group of screaming pedestrians? XP. Saints Row is absolutely insane, leaving the confines of reality to give you absolute freedom, and that’s what makes it fun. For example, here’s a few things you can do in Saints Row IV:
– Shoot Rockets out of a guitar case while surfing on a modified Zamboni driven by a friend dressed in a swimsuit and a gigantic mascot head while you yourself are wearing huge shades and caveman clothing
– Summon a military helicopter, pick it up with your mind, and go nuts, rampaging across the city using the Helicopter as some sort of divine hammer
– Run up a tall building, then drop down and nuke the city using a male avatar wearing a dress
If these three things didn’t tip you off, Saints Row IV is the pinnacle of randomness. Its developers decided to go for the exact opposite of the other realism-loving crime sims out there, and that gives it confidence that it’s “complete” and that it has incentive to play without peppering unlockables all over the place. Sure, there are a couple (Dual-wielding Uzis, the Dubstep Gun), but those are awarded for being yourself and completing totally insane Loyalty Missions, and you can get through the game without knowing these unlockables exist.
In conclusion, there may be people who disagree with me, but in my opinion Saints Row is the most complete game a person can get. It’s a wild journey from start to finish, and it’s not that easy to get bored of it, for me at least.