SAINTS ROW IV "Cool party! Ice to see you! You're not sending me to the cooler! Etcetera."

THERE I AM, the president of the United States, and these ugly alien bastards think they can nuke the White House, kidnap all of my friends, and enslave humanity. I'm not going to take this lying down, and in the course of wresting Earth back from its would-be conquerors, I'll have shot hundreds of cops, surfed on the wings of alien jets, and listened to "Bombs over Baghdad" more often than a fraternity pledge circa 2001.

If this all sounds a bit over the top, that's exactly the point. The Saints Row series has always been an exaggerated satire of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, but Saints Row IV takes things to obscene levels. For the most part, Saints Row IV plays out like its predecessors, but the big addition here is straight-up, Matrix-style superpowers. Tired of shooting dudes and jacking cars? Why not sprint through them at super speed, or flash-freeze your enemies with a bolt of ice? Hell, you can even punt your foes hundreds of feet in the air, only to play target practice with their falling bodies. Saints Row IV is an "open world" in a purely videogame sense of the term, but what it lacks in true freedom, it more than makes up for in cool toys to keep you entertained.

The key thing to remember about Saints Row IV is that this game doesn't succeed purely due to ludicrous spectacle. Like the Grand Theft Auto games, the violence will attract players, but they'll keep playing for dozens of hours because Saints Row IV is a well-crafted, feature-rich adventure. It could use a bit more polish, but its bugs are minor and are easy to ignore in favor of reveling in cathartic mayhem. Saints Row IV is undeniably lowbrow—but if you're looking for a way to blow off some steam, there aren't many better options.