Saint’s Row IV vs Shadow of the Colossus [The Overthinkery Reclamation Project]

This post is part of the Overthinkery Reclamation Project, an effort to reclaim some very old posts that I wrote a long time ago. This particular post was first published on October 13, 2015.

I think games are great, obviously, and I think that for a lot of different reasons. It’s actually because there are so many different reasons that I’m so confident in my opinion that games are great; if I only had one reason, I wouldn’t be particularly secure in that view at all. Diversity in games is, in my opinion, an awesome thing (I don’t just mean ethnic, sexual, cultural, religious etc. diversity, although obviously that’s a plus too), and that’s why I’ve decided to compare two completely different games. You see, I think it sucks that some people who call themselves ‘gamers’ are bitches to other people who call themselves ‘gamers’ because they don’t think they’re the right sort of ‘gamer’. So to illustrate how stupid it is to think that just because two things are both games and both get reviewed on the same scale they’re actually the same, I’m gonna go ahead and treat Saint’s Row IV and Shadow of the Colossus as if they’re directly comparable.

By the by, I could have done this with any game, from Flappy Bird to League of Legends. It’s just because I’ve played these two recently, but I’m of the opinion above for all games from hardcore to the casualest of the casual.

So without further ado, let’s compare.

Story

Story is always an important part of any game. The past, present and future of your characters and their narratives is what motivates play: the past events drive the characters, the player makes decisions in the present and looks forward to beating a section because the story then progresses. Shadow of the Colossus has a story of sorts, although much of it is open to interpretation, about a boy trying to bring a girl back to life. He does this by killing giant monsters.

Cool.

Saint’s Row IV is about the flippin’ President of the United States, who used to be a gang leader, getting sucked into an alien simulation and fighting their way out with superpowers and awesome hacks.

I think I know which one I’m giving the win to there!

Graphics

SotC was a PS2 game, so it’s kind of low-res compared to the later-gen SR4. Again, can’t really compare.

Weapons

SR4 has, like, a dildo that you can hit people with, and a gun that shoots dubstep music, and about six billion different firearms. It’s awesome. SotC has a sword that reflects light sometimes and a bow that shoots regular non-dubstep arrows, so… pretty dull, amirite.

Gameplay

Well, SotC does have a grip metre, and SR4 doesn’t have one of those. But then, the reason it doesn’t have one of those is because you spend most of your time flying around not needing to grip shit. If The Boss showed up in SotC-land s/he would just fly onto the Colossus’ head and mercilessly rupture its weak spot with a blast of lightning and a well-placed dildo hammer. What would Wander do in Steelport? Ride his horse around in the traffic? God, all those people would have been screwed.

Dick jokes

I don’t even need to go into this one.

Voice acting

SR4 has credits to its name such as Laura Bailey, Nolan North, probably Troy Baker – Hulk Hogan’s in SR3, for heaven’s sake. SotC has some guy called Kenji Nojima. And he barely even talks.

Boss battles

Well, SotC is sort of exclusively boss battles, which you would think would make it a surefire hit to win this category. But then, SR4 has aliens with superpowers. What are the Colossi, anyway? They’re just big maybe-robots-maybe-animals. They can’t even fly helicopters.

The point, I hope, is by now illustrated. I love both of these games, but real talk? Shadow of the Colossus has to rank higher for me, whether we’re talking about which game I personally prefer or which I think has the most artistic merit, or even which I just consider ‘better’, whatever that means. There are infinite ways to judge whether a game’s good or not, but what isn’t cool is judging someone else by the standards they decide to use. Everyone should just play all the games, all the time, and love them all.

I think we’d all be happier for that.

2 comments

  1. Great article, and I totally agree with the point here. To me, gamers need to look more into objective versus subjective opinions. Using your example, I objectively realize that Shadow of the Colossus is a masterpiece. The themes it tackles and the mechanics make it one of the most innovative games of that generation. Saints Row IV’s innovation is a dildo bat and jumping really high. Subjectively, however Shadow of the Colossus never clicked with me, whereas Saints Row IV is one of my favorite games of all time. I think if gamers referenced the objective and subjective views on games, discussions might be more civil. Does that make sense?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There are definitely pockets of good discussion on the Internet where people do recognise that almost everything someone might like or dislike about a particular game is going to be based on that person’s individual preferences! It’s actually hard to think of any factor that can be objectively measured and quantified that would make a game any better than any other game; the only thing I can think of would be something like polygon count, but that’s meaningless if the art arranges those polygons in ways that don’t appeal to someone’s taste.

    In a broader sense, everyone defines a ‘good’ game completely differently. A bit like you, I recognise Shadow of the Colossus as a really great work of art, and after I played it I was absolutely blown away. That said, I’d choose to play something like Skyrim over SotC most days because to me it’s more fun. Fun doesn’t necessarily equal good, but it depends what mood I’m in!

    In short, I really don’t think there’s any way of quantifying what makes a game good, either objectively (or perhaps ‘on a large scale’ would be more accurate) or even for an individual at any particular point in time. There are just games that innovate in a way that consensus declares is worth taking notice of, I guess!

    Liked by 1 person

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