It must have been a trap; this was supposed to be the grand unveiling of Saints Row IV, the first look at a game renowned for its ridiculousness yet here I was sat in a rather humble looking room. Bathed in purple light, the chairs looked like those your grandmother might own and there wasn’t a giant purple dildo in sight.
As soon as arse hit seat, the screen sprang to life and we saw the first look at who gamers will be taking control of, the leader of the Third Street Saints, clad here in Uncle Sam garb.
“Please meet the President of the United States of America.”
Ahh, that’s more like it.
It was a ruse, to make the incredible wackiness that was about to unfold seem all the more silly. You, as the President, have been kidnapped by aliens and trapped in a Matrix-like recreation of the city of Steelport.
It’s silly, naturally, and little more than an excuse for the most insane leap into crazy the series has yet to make. Saints Row 2 was a little madder than the first, The Third was quite a hike after that, this… this is just ridiculous.
In our interview with Volition Inc’s Jim Boone, he said, rather bluntly, that this would be “the end” of Saints Row as we know it. As you might expect of a saga-ender the stakes have never been higher with an alien force running rampant and a plot-point that makes anything possible.
This is no-holds-barred barmy.
To battle the alien force, which will manifest in many forms from the human-size to the skyscraper-bothering, the President is going to need more ways to fight than ever before, so of course he’s going to have super powers.
As well as being able to run faster, jump higher and punch harder, the player will also have other powers. Blast allows you to freeze enemies which can then be shattered, and telekinesis allows you to manipulate objects in the environment. Players will be encouraged to mix and match the powers also, for example, turning a car into a block of ice then throwing it at oncoming nuisances.
Fret not, guns are still very much a part of Saints Row IV, and we saw two new additions to the arsenal. First up was the inflate-o-ray, which could be seen in last week’s reveal trailer. This simply inflates enemies until they explode, no fuss but plenty of mess. The second new weapon is something I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to stop using…
The dubstep gun.
Fire it and a familiar wub wub will ring out, forcing the surrounding inhabitants of Steelport to dance whether they’re friend or foe. Cars too will begin bouncing to the music. The gun presumably does damage at some point, but I’ll put my hands up and admit that I didn’t notice due to laughing so much.
Further specialised weapons will be announced in the coming months.
Players will now also be able to customise the look of all but their most exotic weapons. Special paint jobs or designs will be available through shops, the example of which we saw being a guitar case rocket launcher.
A clear homage to Antonio Banderas film Desperado, it will no doubt be just one of hundreds of pop culture references littered throughout the game and its features.
Barely thirty seconds had passed between the guitar case rocket launcher laying waste to some aliens and another first for the series – a mech suit. It works like a standard video game mech suit and comes with an activity similar to Tank Mayhem in Saints Row the Third.
The extent to which Saints Row IV has gone off the rails is both impressive and a little concerning. It undoubtedly still looks incredibly fun to play – both mechanically and in the overall tone. The preview shown however was relentless and it remains to be seen how the game will manage the downtime between super-powered battles and saving the world.
Saints Row IV is not the sequel anyone was expecting, but after the third game there was little more that could be done to amplify an already crass and crazy series.
It’s perhaps best to look at this latest game as a send-off, an end-of-the-world party for a series which has become popular for being what many have chastised rival series Grand Theft Auto for losing sight of in recent years – fun.
When it comes to big budget, large scale video games, Saints Row is as close to concentrated fun as it gets. On its surface, and in the best possible way, Saints Row IV looks to be more of the same.
Saints Row IV will be released on August 23 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC.