What you won’t like

Gameplay-interrupting bugs

Saints Row IV crashed three times for me. I’m playing the Xbox 360 version. A colleague playing the PC version confirmed that he also experienced some bugs but no crashes.

The crashes, which completely locked up my system and required me to manually turn off the console, were by far the biggest issue, but I also got stuck on the map once and had to restart a mission.

I also had persistent audio bugs. I frequently performed actions that produced little to no sound effects.

Saints Row IV

None of this hurts the game very much for me, but I’m not someone who is too thrown off by bugs. Two of the three crashes caused me to lose some progress, and that’s frustrating, but it was a total of about two minutes of gameplay.

Really, Saints Row IV feels like it just needed a bit more polish.

Weird and lazy save system

Speaking of polish, the save system is also pretty rough.

I would occasionally need to save and quit my game in the middle of a mission. You would expect that the game would save the progress up until the last checkpoint, but it doesn’t. If you save and quit within a mission, you will lose all of that progress and have to start over.

It makes no sense and is frustrating. Thankfully, the game is a blast to play, so having to go through a few checkpoints usually isn’t too much of a headache.

Conclusion

The cliché for open world games since Grand Theft Auto III is always that they are jacks of all trades and masters of none. Well, Saints Row IV is a jack of all trades and a master of a few of them. It’s blazingly funny, it’s locomotion is best in the genre, and it doles out progress in a way that feels just right.

I have a great affinity for this game, and I think that’s because the people that made it really care about the world and its characters. I don’t want to pretend like the big draw here isn’t the silly and insane humor — that’s why you need to play this game — but its action, its variety, and its character moments will drive you to love it.

The truth is that while this is a game about a gang of sociopaths killing thousands of enemies and collecting a bunch of stupid blue things that give them magical powers, it’s secretly about a gang of puckish rogues that care deeply for one another. It’s admirable that Volition even attempted something like that. It’s astounding that it succeeded.

Score: 90/100

Saints Row IV will release for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on Aug. 20. Publisher Deep Silver provided a retail copy of the game for Xbox 360 for the purposes of this review.


GamesBeat Gift Guides: Everything we recommend this holiday season