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Saints Row IV game review: Lunacy

Vendetta for the saint? Not quite. Saints Row

Vendetta for the saint? Not quite. Saints Row IV is more like the "Naked Gun" series: Totally nuts. Credit: Handout

The Saints Row franchise has changed dramatically from one edition to the next. The sheer lunacy of these games can't quite be quantified. The original Saints Row, which came out seven years ago, was a violent yet slapstick diversion about rising up the ranks to conquer the city of Steelport's mob landscape. It was "Godfather"-lite, but it worked well.

Subsequent iterations have ratcheted up the crazy to the point that in Saints Row IV, the main character becomes president of the United States and acquires superpowers in a digital/fake version of Steelport.

Toss in the constant winks, nods and overt references to pop culture, and you have to wonder if the folks behind the "Naked Gun" movies designed Saints Row IV. This game makes no sense, and yet everything about it makes total sense.

Saints Row IV plays smoothly, even as players get thrown into about 75 different scenarios. Third-person shootouts, flying sequences, 16-bit side-scrolling fights, just about the entire gaming library appears -- except for maybe a "Pokémon" character. The action switches styles so often that if you don't keep your eyes glued to the screen, you might forget which game you're playing.

Some gamers may compare the action in this franchise to that of a headless chicken, what with all the random game play elements and juvenile setups. But a worthwhile game exists here, and those who have stuck with the Saints franchise might as well dive into the crazy and play this one, too.

RATING M for Mature

PLOT The Saints go marching in -- to the White House.

DETAILS Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, $60

BOTTOM LINE Think "The Godfather" gone totally gonzo

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