Saints Row IV Review
Alongside these passive powers are abilities that can be used against your alien overlords. These include blasts of fire and ice which freeze and incinerate enemies, making them more susceptible to damage. Telekinesis, meanwhile, allows you to grab enemies and cars and throw them with great force into whatever needs forcefully removing. The best power, however, is stomp, which sends a shockwave through the ground, blasting back anything around you that isn't nailed down. This can also be used while jumping, and is later accompanied by a similar yet more accurate ground-punch.
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Unlike the movement powers, these abilities don't render your weapons useless. The standard arsenal remains handy throughout the game, while the more esoteric weapons vary in quality. The heavily marketed "Dubstep gun", is actually one of the more practical weapons, particularly when you unlock "explosive wubs". Others, such as the inflato-ray and the abduction gun, are entertaining enough but probably won't replace your good old fashioned RPG or shotgun in the long run.
Nevertheless, you'll probably spend more time stomping Zin troops off the edge of skyscrapers than dispatching them with more conventional (by Saints Row standards) weaponry. So it's annoying that there's so much disconnect between running around Virtual Steelport as a superhero and following the main quest, which either by bringing you back into the "real" world or some other contrivance tends to temporarily strip you of those superpowers.
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Consequently, the primary missions simply aren't as fun as bounding around and kicking aliens into the sky. That isn't to say they don't try, they really do. Based around rescuing your crew from both their own nightmarish simulations and the alien ship on which their physical form is present, forming your own Mass Effect-style squad in the process, they range from stomping around the alien mothership in powered armour to defeating a Godzilla-sized can of the Saints' branded energy drink "Saints Flow". One of the later missions, which apes a classic 16-bit game that shall remain nameless, is a particular highlight. All are amusingly written and entertaining to play, but more often than not they reject rather than embrace what is quite clearly the most compelling part of the game.
Fortunately, there's absolutely loads of non-storyline stuff which does involve using your superpowers. A small sample includes clearing out alien checkpoints or fortress-like hotspots, running races through the city, climbing massive alien towers using your super-jump, taking on other heroes in "duel" training scenarios. These are available alongside beefed-up versions of the previous game's secondary missions, such as causing mayhem in a UFO or running into traffic and committing insurance fraud as only Superman can. And of course the city can be explored in cooperative mode, which comes with its own specific side-missions such as duels, cat-and-mouse chases through the simulation, and so forth.
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Saints Row IV justifies its re-skin of Steelport with plentiful content and a brilliant new way of exploring the city. But its attempt to blend so many different genres, sci-fi, superheroes and cyberpunk, results in a lack of cohesion and the game failing to capitalise on its strongest features. Still, like we said before, Saints Row doesn't do things because they make sense, it does them because they're fun, and it delivers that by the truckload.