Saints Row IV First Impressions Preview - Utter, Utter Madness
Written Friday, March 22, 2013 By Lee BradleyView author's profile
The first time Saints Row The Third was shown to the press, the demo had the most remarkable opening. It began with the main character drop-kicking an old lady, before beating a passer-by to death with a dildo bat. Seconds later he was in a VTOL jet, raining fire on the citizens of Stillwater.
As statements of intent went, it was pretty powerful. Saints Row The Third was nuts.
Fast forward a couple of years and we’re sat watching a short announcement demo for Saints Row IV. Only about five minutes long, before the end we’d seen dubstep guns, inflating exploding heads, jumps that would put Crackdown to shame and a bizarre new storyline twist. Yeah, Saints Row The Third was nuts, but Saints Row IV is INSANE.
“So it’s a logical step within our universe for the player to become the President of the United States,” Volition’s Senior Producer Jim Boone explains to us later, with a smile on his face.
“So you become the President, you bring a bunch of people from your cabinet in, you make a bunch of changes to The White House and all of a sudden this alien empire turns up called the Zin. They go around like the Borg and suck people in, turning them into part of this empire.
“Meanwhile, you get put in this simulation, this bizarre version of Steelport, and the Zin tries to indoctrinate you and break down your mind. That’s why the city is all messed up and full of alien stuff. There’s other areas you explore as well, other areas where you try and rescue friends from their own nightmare-ish scenarios.
“And then you spend the rest of your time fighting with those friends and using the super powers that you gain, because it’s a simulation.”
See, we told you it was insane. The beauty of the idea is that within this alternate universe, Volition can do whatever it wants. All bets are off, all the rules are out the window, and the crazy crap they can come up with is limited only by their imaginations. It’s could prove to be a masterstroke.
You can see this in the whizzy super speed the player can run at and the huge leaps he or she can make over giant skyscrapers. In the press demo, when the character jumped for the first time, the whole room went “Woooooah!” And that’s before we’ve even got to the other super powers.
“The first one is the freeze blast, which essentially just freezes cars, people,” explains Boone. “Cars go sliding because they lock up, people can be shattered by running into them or punching them or shooting them. It’s great fun.
“And then TK, or telekinesis - which is probably my favourite - allows you to pick up any person, object or car in the world and toss it around. You can grab somebody off the street and ram them into a wall, then pick them up and ram them into a wall again, over and over. It’s a really nice stress release.”
All of these super powers, there’ll be more too, can be upgraded and mixed up with attacks from your weapons, for extra damage. And oh what weapons they are too.
“So the two we showed today were the Inflato-ray, which essentially is a big tyre pump that allows you to pump people up until their eyes pop out and they explode,” enthuses Boone. “And you can deflate people; you can inflate them up, and then let them breathe the air out and inflate them again. It’s combat effective, but it’s also just fun.”
“And then of course there’s the Dubstep gun, which is a party in a box. That’s our description. Everyone starts dancing, cars start bouncing and when you kill enemies they start to go into the fast-forward reverse sort of dubstep visuals. I think people who have seen dubstep videos will understand. It’s just crazy to play with.”
Without doubt the funniest, silliest thing we’ve seen in a gameplay demo in all our years in the business, the Dubstep gun is hilarious. We were in fits of giggles when we saw it.
“Yeah, the weapons are a great area for us,” says Boone, reacting to the big smile on our faces. “It’s another thing where we can just go nuts. All we ask is ‘Is it cool?’ ‘Are People gonna like it?’ And if the answer’s yes then yeah, let’s go with it.”
And therein lies the beauty of Saints Row IV. We’ve only seen a couple of weapons, a couple of abilities and a five minute gameplay demo, but we’re already convinced that it could be one of the most enjoyable, silly and just plain fun experiences of the year.
Grand Theft Auto V may be the open-world game that picks up the most critical plaudits in 2013, but when it comes to doing utterly insane crap with a big stupid grin on your face, Saints Row IV is the one to watch. We couldn’t be more excited.
Saints Row IV is out on August 20th in North America and August 23rd in Europe.