Saints Row 4 Preview: So Far, So Good, So Maybe

And the thing is, I’ve only described, at maximum, about 10 percent of the story, almost certainly abbreviated for this preview build. This suggests to me that the “good” ending of Saints Row 3 was a template for Saints Row 4 — everything in this game is aiming to mimick, and mock, the culture of blockbuster movies. And if it works as well throughout the game as it does in what little I played, I can’t imagine not loving every scripted moment.

I’ll also add that the soundtrack is incredible. More care seems to have been taken in selection of licensed music than in any previous Saints Row game, to the point that nearly every song feels like appropriate background music for the insane things you get up to. I won’t spoil the plot-relevant music, (again, Google it if you can’t wait to play for yourself), but a few of the better choices include EMF’s “Unbelievable,” Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools,” The Pharcyde’s “Oh Shit,” and an entire station curated by Mad Decent. In addition, because the super powers you’ll acquire largely turn driving around in cars into a vestigial tail, Volition has added the ability to listen to the radio even when you’re walking around. This tiny thing has the effect of making everything you do feel, to quote random dialogue from Saints Row 2, “like something out of a movie.” It’s easily the best new open world gameplay element in years, and as I said above, I hope every developer making these kinds of games copies it.

However, for all the excellent padding (storywise), and the loads and loads of funny, it looks like Saints Row 4′s core gameplay is more of Saints Row 3, but amped up. Kind of like wearing a hat on top of another hat.

As you know, Saints Row was originally called “Enter The Dominatrix,” that title a riff on the first video game based on the Matrix trilogy. Appropriately, the new version of Saints Row 3′s Steelport feels a lot like the nameless city from those films. In addition, the game’s side missions are largely Matrix-ized versions of previous series side missions. Instead of trailblazing with a quad bike (or Tron cycle), you’re running very fast using your super speed. Instead of Tank Mayhem, you get UFO Mayhem. And so on.

In addition, the preview build really got you to super powers very fast. The game’s three prologue missions took about 30 minutes or so to complete. And yet, within half an hour of finally making it into the simulation, I had super speed, super jump, and ice blast. Making this weirder, the preview build didn’t include the dubstep gun or the anal probe gun. I’m hoping the preview build was an abbreviated version of the beginning of game, and that it will take a bit longer before you can unlock super powers. Otherwise, I’m afraid you’ll spend a lot of the game feeling a bit boringly invincible.

Still, based on the final bit of story-based mission before the demo cut off, Volition seems to be intent on mixing up game play. Taken out of the simulation for some less superheroic combat, at feels that if the super powers might get a bit too-too, they’ll be broken up somewhat to keep you from feeling monotonously all-powerful.

But I’m getting ahead of things. After all, the game doesn’t even release until August. And based on the preview, it doesn’t feel like a jumped up budget game. Whether it will be worth that $60, we’ll have to wait until it launches to determine. Which is why I’m setting aside my concerns for now and focusing on what matters now: the fact Volition has finally managed to combine “Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangster” with “I Am God.” If nothing else, I can’t wait to see more.

Read more of Ross Lincoln’s work here, and follow him and Game Front on Twitter: @rossalincoln and @gamefrontcom.

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4 Comments on Saints Row 4 Preview: So Far, So Good, So Maybe

gasmaskangel

On July 3, 2013 at 10:32 pm

I’m a little jealous of all the game journalists who got their hands on the preview build because I’m really looking forward to SR4.

I understand why a lot of people had problems with SR3 and its wholesale embrace of wackiness, for awhile I was one of them. Then I happened to be in a foul mood one day and was going through my steam library looking for something to blow off steam and I noticed how many of my games take themselves too fecking seriously, how few seem to based on the idea of just having as much fun as possible. The last game I played all the way through was Metro Last Light and I don’t think I smiled once during the entire campaign.

I guess what I’m saying is if SR4 is a bloated retread of SR3, then at least its a bloated retread of something that was just pure balls to the wall fun.

mighty kids

On July 3, 2013 at 11:52 pm

did you ever get to play with the abduction gun in that new build ?

Dach

On July 6, 2013 at 10:49 am

Really . . . . Nolan North is the voice actor you alluded to.

Like it’s a supposed to be a surprise that Nolan North is in a video game?

Mccrackelz

On July 6, 2013 at 1:09 pm

YOU GET A VESTIGIAL TAIL?! Wait…no, I gotta stop skimming.