Saints Row is a series full of ups and downs. It rose to stardom in 2006 with the first game in the series, Saints Row, though it may have just been seen as Grand Theft Auto rip off. While the series may be similar, Saints Row has always leaned more into absurdity rather than the realistic gangster violence of its counterpart. This is especially true of Saints Row IV, the latest game in the franchise. The game began as an expansion to Saints Row: The Third that grew large enough to warrant its own release. Originally released in 2013, Saints Row IV has since been ported to modern consoles as Saints Row IV: Re-Elected, an updated version containing all of the game’s DLC.
Now, five years after Re-Elected’s original release, the game is making its way to Nintendo Switch. Sure, having this game on the go sounds like a dream, but remembering the Switch port of Saints Row: The Third reminds us of a number of technical issues that held the port back. Luckily, Saint Row IV: Re-Elected on Switch runs as smoothly as it ever, whether docked or in handheld mode. However, seeing as how the game is around seven years old now, its age is starting to show.
Saints Row IV is an example of a game that threw everything at the wall and let it all stick; there are no limits to its wackiness. The previous entries in the series seemed to drive the absurdity of the series up significantly, Saints Row IV goes even further beyond that, and I love it.
In Saints Row IV: Re-Elected, players take control of the boss of the Third Street Saints. Within the first hour of gameplay, the boss becomes President of the United States, fights off an alien invasion, enters the Matrix, and gains superpowers. I told you this game was crazy.
The Saints Row series feels like its written by an overly imaginative middle schooler. Most of the humor is pretty immature, with curse words being thrown around like candy and sex jokes being a common topic in conversation. I could understand if many people would write this off as lazy or only for adults, but it constantly had me audibly laughing. Writing clever immature humor is a difficult task that the folks at Volition have mastered.
Saints Row IV plays out as you would expect any third-person shooter too. Interestingly, some of the buttons are mapped to strange places on the controller. However, it doesn’t take very long for your mind to readjust and to become a master at taking down virtual aliens. A large number of guns are made available to the player as the game progresses, from simple pistols to more over the top weapons such as a dubstep gun and a black hole gun.
The addition of superpowers during most of the game sets it apart from its contemporaries, however. These powers include super speed, super strength, telekinesis, and elemental blasts. Wreaking havoc with these powers is loads of fun. The powers certainly make Saints Row IV a little easier than past entries in the franchise, but if you look at it as a power fantasy, it works.
The only real downside that I see with these superpowers is that they get rid of the need for vehicles almost altogether. One of my favorite things about the past Saints Row games was finding the coolest car I could and customizing it as much as possible. Yes, you can still drive cars in Saints Row IV, but I rarely found myself using vehicles as I could run faster than a car could drive.
One of the best things about Saints Row IV: Re-Elected is how customizable everything is. The boss can be just about anything you want them to be. The game features an incredibly in-depth character creator that is easy to get lost in. Personally, I stick to the presets and mess with them slightly, but if you feel the need to change the circumference of your character’s nose, you can.
Luckily, I didn’t run into any technical issues while playing Saints Row IV: Re-Elected on Switch. The game ran as smoothly as it ever has on console or PC. The only real issue that I have with the game technically is that the load times can get a little long, with more intense missions being broken up by seemingly unnecessarily long load screens.
The game also runs well when playing in handheld mode. The graphics get a bit worse, but that’s to be expected with the slightly lower quality of the Switch’s screen. The Switch and the Saints Row series feel like the perfect match. Many missions in Saints Row IV are relatively short, making them perfect for bus rides or a quick gaming session while on break at work.
Still, compared to most games releasing today, Saints Row IV is really showing its age. The game’s graphics look rough. They admittedly were a little rough even back in 2013, with many textures looking incredibly blurry. Character models can especially look bad, with the random citizens and enemies that players run into looking like they’re from the early Xbox 360 era.
When you consider that this game is on the same system as games as beautiful as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Animal Crossing: New Horizons, these graphical issues become even more apparent. Though, the fact that the game is simply a remaster could excuse this; the only way the graphics could really get much better is by rebuilding the game from the ground up.
Saints Row IV: Re-Elected on Nintendo Switch is a fantastic port of a good game. Though it has not aged all that well graphically, the hilarious story and addicting gameplay of the original release translate incredibly well to Switch. Those looking for a sandbox game to play on the go will find a great one in Saints Row IV: Re-Elected. However, its $40 price tag is a bit high for a seven-year-old game.
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