Best of 2013: #10 - Saints Row 4

Saints Row 4 is #10 in our Best of 2013.

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The Saints Row series began as something of a bargain bin Grand Theft Auto knock-off, aping the best parts of more successful games without their cleverness or creativity. Somewhere along the line, likely during the development of Saints Row 2, the developers realized they could only reach so high as pale imitators, so they went their own direction by lampooning the whole thing. Saints Row 4 is the culmination of this attitude, and as much video game parody royalty as Naked Gun is for films. It's cheeky, goofy, and the full realization of Volition's choice not to live under GTA's shadow anymore.

Playing through SR4, especially after the prior installments, is an exercise in watching Volition sharpen its parody chops. It's less reliant on skewering specific gags than ever before, instead riffing on common video game tropes. Jokes in the dialogue or missions might have been a little too on-the-nose, if not for the fact that they were poking fun at an industry that often is too. Despite that, it never carries a bullying or judgmental tone. It simply acknowledges that sometimes games are dumb fun, and that's fine, so it set out to crown itself the king of that particular castle.

The fact that this is all delivered with incredibly snappy dialogue is icing on the cake. We get to watch the Boss once again fail upward, bolstered by the support of his (or her, or its) crew. There's a sense, however subtle, that the Boss is nothing but a cocky idiot without his friends, and by the end I felt surprisingly sad that I may not get to hang out with this crew of screw-ups anymore.

All the cleverness in the world wouldn't have done it any favors if the gameplay was lacking, though, and fortunately Saints Row 4 had a solid foundation to rely on. It may have even leaned on it too much, considering the environment was so familiar. But by wasting no time empowering the player, it made the whole city feel like new again. Even the simple act of navigating to my next mission start point was engaging and fun, and it constantly rewarded me with new powers and abilities to toy with. Saints Row 4 starts where most games would end, and then ratchets it up all the way to the finish line.

When I wrote my Saints Row 4 review, I said it was among the most fun I'd had all year. When it came time to cast my Game of the Year ballot, it still was.


The Shacknews Best of 2013 Awards were determined by ballot voting across the entire Shacknews staff. Stay tuned next week as we reveal all our winners.

Editor-In-Chief

From The Chatty

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    January 17, 2014 12:30 PM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Best of 2013: #10 - Saints Row 4.

    Saints Row 4 is #10 in our Best of 2013.

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      January 17, 2014 1:21 PM

      Haven't played Saints Row IV yet? There's a free weekend for it on Steam right now. http://store.steampowered.com/app/206420/

      Also 50% off.

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        January 17, 2014 1:22 PM

        Worth it. So much fun.

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        January 17, 2014 1:30 PM

        Great timing on our part.

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        January 17, 2014 2:01 PM

        free weekend? Does that include single player because if so I can power through the campaign.

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        January 19, 2014 2:02 PM

        The Xmas DLC is totally bugging out for me, freezes, crashes, and that one an Xbox.

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      January 17, 2014 1:31 PM

      this game was amazing fun. I was surprised that emotionally I was pretty bummed about the whole plot and earth being destroyed :-( . I wasn't sure which friends had survived. I was hoping to get to do more shit as president

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        January 17, 2014 1:45 PM

        yeah, an open world game that I 100%-ed and afterward still wanted more. So weird!

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          January 17, 2014 2:01 PM

          SR3 and 4 are the only open world games I've ever 100%'d Despite me hating some of the missions (mostly the jumping on platforms in Tronland as well as running through space tunnels) I still did them all. The waves of enemies were so fun, because you could bring a tank or chopper along and just dominate.

          Being able to tackle most missions however you wanted to makes Saints Row such a refreshing change from GTA.

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      January 17, 2014 1:54 PM

      What a weird way to typo 01 so many times

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        January 17, 2014 2:01 PM

        I think their kb is broken or something

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          January 17, 2014 2:11 PM

          That would make sense, perhaps it has some salt on the electrical paths?

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      January 19, 2014 10:32 PM

      Great game.
      I've played the holy heck out of it.
      Well worth the $49.00 I paid for it.