I was surprised to learn that Saints Row IV was actually at this year’s PAX East show and after falling in love with the wacky and wild nature of Saints Row: The Third, I knew I had to stop by and get a sneak peak at what IV was bringing to the table. Even though it was completely hands off, viewers were treated to actual gameplay and frankly, I don’t think I was prepared for how much Volition was able to crank the crazy.
Ok, lets get this out of the way first. Saints Row IV looks pretty much exactly like the previous game so don’t expect any sort of graphical leap. Granted, I don’t think Saints Row The Third was too shabby looking by any means. It’s also worth mentioning that you’re back in Steelport, though it’s a virtual reality version being simulated by aliens that have attacked the world. So while much of it will look familiar for those of you that played the previous game, there are new elements added in to help mix things up like alien architecture and spacecrafts dotting the sky.
Ok, with that out of the way, lets get to what’s new. So as many of you may remember, Saints Row The Third was due to receive a substantial expansion pack called Enter The Dominatrix. As we know, THQ canceled that and had Volition roll the content into the fourth game. I’ve been told that much of the content and story from Dominatrix had to be completely reworked to fit in the fourth game, so don’t expect this one to be Saints Row 3.5 or anything.
The biggest change is that your character somehow got elected to President of the United States. When the gameplay demo started, we were treated to an altered presidential logo (featuring the eagle holding two assault rifles for example) with the official presidential theme modified to fit with more of a Saints Row vibe. That’s how you kick off a demo and set expectations.
The core mantra Volition followed in making Saints Row IV was by saying, it has to be fun. If it’s not fun, it’s not going in the game. To demonstrate how dead set they were on that, the developer showed off more brutal and hilarious melee moves. But the real laughs came when they showed off two new and simply crazy guns. Sure, you can use the default standard ones like pistols and assault rifles, but why would you want to do that when you can use things like the Inflato-ray or the Dubstep gun. The Inflato-ray shoots a beam out that causes the persons head to continually inflate until it gets too big and pops. The dubstep gun is quite possibly my new favorite gun ever. It looks like a turntable and it shoots out wavy neon beams (which sound like a dubstep song) causing everyone around you to stop, dance, and get all pixelated. It’s absurd and quite awesome.
Each gun also has tons of customizable options including multiple skins you can buy for it and each brings the wacky. The rocket launcher for example can look like the old Scope gun from the Super Nintendo days, or if you’re feeling really insane, you can make it look like a guitar case. Volition promised a lot of skins to find and unlock but I wouldn’t be surprised to see lots of DLC centered around this as well.
The next segment showed off the recently revealed super powers. Originally, I had no idea how this would work but after seeing them in action, I’m completely sold. Volition showed off a few powers including super speed (which then allowed them to super jump over tall buildings), telekinesis (which is basically like you’re a Jedi using the force), and the ability to free objects or people (at which point they can be shattered). The biggest thing I got from the powers is that they’re well balanced and just downright fun to use.
Volition also showed off the new alien race as well and the default ones look pretty generic, but who knows, maybe it was intentional. The good news is that there seems to be multiple variants of them as we also saw a glimpse of a creature called the Warden. It looks to also have super powers and won’t be quite the pushover that the default enemies will be.
Frankly, from what I saw with Saints Row IV, it’s going to be another great ride from start to finish. It’s goofy, it’s ridiculous, and it’s one of the most unique gaming experiences out there. The Saints return in August.