Preview: Saints Row IV
The Saints Row franchise is best described as GTA hyped up on bath salts and wearing a gimp suit. It’s obnoxious, over the top, zany and doesn’t know when to say no. Saints Row IV picks up where the last one left off with even more insanity. Before I say the next bit, let me emphasise that Saints Row: The Third had a giant dildo bat, a mission involving gimps and an entire section set in space. Now with that in mind, Saints Row IV might be jumping the shark.
Name: Saints Row IV
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
Publishers: Deep Silver
Release Date: 23 August 2013
THQ might be dead but Saints Row developer Volition is now with Deep Silver, a publisher just as carefree as the last one about what they put into their Saints Row games.
What makes a Saints Row game? An open-world populated with unsuspecting bystanders, plenty of side activities to facilitate mayhem and stupidity but most importantly that trademark crass humour and batshit crazy action. Saints Row IV has all of that but is changing things up in a big way.
At its core, the game is a sandbox third-person shooter and continues in Steelport with the characters you’ve grown accustomed to. Not that there’s any real story to follow, just a series of semi-coherent events that sort of tie together in this overarching canon. Saints Row IV picks up with you having taken the role of President of the United States and the Saints making the White House their own.
The hitch comes in when aliens invade and enslave humanity. As the president of the USA and champion of the free world, it is up to you to save Earth. Oh and you also have superpowers at your disposal.
As before, you cam customise anything and everything , more or less. Create a replica of Mark Ruffalo or go wild and craft what he looks like after he turns into a big green rage monster. This is nothing new but there is a host of new options to run with. Maybe you’d like to customise your handgun to look like Han Solo’s blaster or perhaps you’d prefer the power of duel-wielding nail guns.
The weapons may all have the same basic classifications – heavy pistol, light SMG etc – and upgrades but each weapon has a number of unique skins and variations. If you were looking forward to repainting the White House, filling it with shag carpets and turning the Oval Office into a giant jacuzzi then I’m sorry but the nature of the game means that certain customisation options are off the table including safe houses.
There’s also a number of special weapons. Saints Row: The Third had the likes of The Penetrator (a giant purple dildo bat) and Apocafists while Saints Row IV hails in the Dubstep Gun which drops the bass hard on your enemies while making anybody in the immediate vicinity bust a move. Wacky enough for you?
While there was always much fun to be had in the air, gameplay was never very vertical but Steelport in Saints Row IV is a city with far more verticality and tiers to the world. This makes the city more of a physical playground than ever before. Couple that with your newfound superpowers and you’ll be doing some insanely fast parkour while literally leaping over tall buildings in a single bound.
Speaking of parkour, SR IV actually has platforming reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed’s viewpoints or Far Cry 3’s radio towers. One of the new activities is available is climbing to the top of towers. Conquering towers helps you to gain more territory and upgrade superpowers.
So what of these powers? There’s nothing too special; just the usual combination of speed, strength and jumping. Of course, stick these into your standard Saints Row title and it would be way too easy. On account of that, Volition has upped the ante to make things just a little bit more challenging.
Respect is no longer a thing in Saints Row, instead you’ll have to settle for regular XP. While we’re talking about things that have been dropped from the game, there are no more factions either. Instead your only opposition will be from the alien scourge plaguing Earth.
One of the most fun aspects of Saints Row: The Third was Professor Ghenki’s Ethical Reality Climax, the gauntlet-style wacky gameshow. The name was certainly entertaining at the very least. Saints Row IV takes some of the fans’ favourite side activities from across the series and gives players prerogative to go crazy. Prof. Ghenki now tasks you with eliminating targets with the aid of telekinesis which lets you fling cars and all manner of weighty projectiles. Mayhem is a mini-game all about destruction and what better way to cause destruction than from the cockpit of a UFO or mechsuit? Old activities have all been repainted in the shiny livery of SR IV.
One thing that Deadpool may have gotten mostly right, is its humour. Not nearly enough games can make me laugh and the vast majority of games take themselves a bit too seriously. Now, Saints Row is renowned for its blatant disregard of any sort of seriousness. Essentially it’s the perfect series for that immature guy you know who still laughs at stuff you stopped finding amusing in high school. It wears a bit thin sometimes and if they continue in the same vain with Saints Row IV, especially with the madness ramped up as it is, then the trademark crude humour might just border on obnoxiously annoying at times. Even worse, it could be plain dull.
If you’re a fan of Collector’s Editions then Saints Row IV has a rather special one for you. It includes:
- 8″ Johnny Gat Memorial Statue
- Pocket-sized dubstep doomsday button
- 12″ replica dubstep gun (laser and sound)
- Alternate box art
- ‘Merica weapon (the most gun-ey gun this side of Texas)
- Uncle Sam suit
- Screaming eagle jet
Pretty awesome, right?
Suspected Selling Points
- Over the top, off the wall action may appeal to some.
- Unique quirks and novel ideas offer something a little different.
- Plenty of fan-service to appeal to Saints Row faithful.
- The crude humour is make or break and many may find it droll.
- The overt immaturity and wackiness of the game can be off-putting to many.
The Saints Row approach to games is best described as “balls to the wall” or is it “balls off the wall?” I don’t know, whichever sounds less like a sex position. Saints Row IV is taking it even further and this could either give the series the extra push into insanity that it needs to really become a force of demented fun or it might become too obscure and irrelevant for players to actually enjoy it. We can only take in so much randomness at a time.
Saints Row IV could go either way. It’s either going to be the best in the series or it could tank. It’s precariously balanced at this point but the boldness of Volition in the strides they’ve made suggest it may be worth keeping an eye on.
We recommend waiting for reviews to get out before putting down any money on Saints Row IV. If you’re of the opinion that Saints Row IV is as crazy as it gets then read this to find out just how ridiculous Volition wanted SR IV to be. There were dragons, a state of the nation address by The Rock, a gun that fires monkeys and badass Steven Colbert as the PotUS.