Saints Row IV Preview: Parody Or Exaggeration?
If you want to know what Saints Row IV is probably going to be like, start by reading our review of Saints Row: The Third.
Now, take that review, put it in a cask for about 2 years. Then take whatever you find in the cask (presumably distilled sociopathy) and move out to a meth lab in the desert. Once you’ve managed to distill, cook, and, um, whatever other words for “reduce” and “refine” exist in the english language to Saints Row: The Third, you’ll have something that gets close to describing Saints Row IV.
Basically, it is to the Saints Row series what this song is to hip hop:
Yes. Ass. And Titties. Ass ass titties titties, ass and titties: The game. And you know what? I think I’m ok with that.
During the Square Enix pre E3 showcase a few weeks back (the same showcase in which we saw the non-playable demo of Murdered; Soul Suspect), Volition (courtesy of Deep Silver, who have a longstanding distro deal with Square) were on hand to provide a hands-on glimpse of the upcoming sequel to the last popular game Volition’s former parent company, THQ, managed to release. Featuring approximately 20 minutes of scripted story mission and… hours of just dicking around, the game isn’t complete yet. SR4 doesn’t come out for two more months, final touches are no doubt still being added, and there are numerous spoilers yet to be made available for anyone other than the team at Volition to offer a true assessment of the game we’re about to discuss. But even so, it was apparent from the playable demo that what we saw is fairly close to what we will see come August 20.
Our verdict? It’s shaping up to be a nonstop, morally reprehensible yuk fest that manages to be intensely fun, intensely silly, and something like a combination of Crackdown and APB. But you can tell this game started out as an expansion pack rather than a full sequel. If you were hoping for something that might harken back to the grittier, meaner, somewhat more serious tone of the first and second game, you’ll probably come away disappointed. Still, if you want every crazy, weird, batsh*t insane nonsense element of Saints Row: The Third, with a heaping spoonful of fanservice that rivals Fast & Furious 6, you’re probably going to love Saints Row IV.
Saints Row IV is set in what appears to be the logical extension of the “good” ending of Saints Row: The Third. That ending has the player character (“The Boss”) saving Burt Reynolds, Shaundi, and Viola DeWinters from a false flag operation conducted by a military organization called STAG, essentially become state-sanctioned heroes due to having saved the city of Steelport from a massive gang war, then filming a movie called Gangstas In Space. Presumably, Gangstas in Space was a hit because at the start of SR4, you learn The Boss has been elected President of the United States.
With him (or her – it was confirmed to me that players can still freely choose your character’s sex, though the demo featured only the default male), as always, are the elite lieutenants of the 3rd Street Saints. Shaundi, Pierce, Kinsie, and (weirdly enough) Matt Miller are all on hand as members of President Boss’s administration. Joining them are a couple of familiar faces from the series’ past: Benjamin King, leader of the Vice Kings from the original Saints Row, as Secretary of State, and Keith David, as Keith David, service as your Vice President.
As you begin the game – and the Demo’s story-based section took place very early – you’re apparently the most effective president in history (more on that shortly), which puts you in the perfect position to deal with the sudden invasion by space aliens led by Lord Zinyak. The invaders interrupt a press conference and begin kidnapping dignitaries and members of your staff and cabinet while raining destruction down on Washington, D.C. and, presumably, the rest of America. Ultimately, they kidnap The Boss and place them into a massive simulation designed to break their spirit and make them a compliant servant to the new alien overlords.
That simulation is a recreation of Steelport from Saints Row IV, with a heavy dose of elements from the memories of The Boss and his crew. Inside the simulation is pure The Matrix, where the normal rules of physics can be bent, or outright broken, which basically serves as an excuse to give The Boss super powers. Here, the Boss will have to work their way through numerous enemies (both legacy – like police and rival gangs – and new, the Aliens) until they can figure out a way out of the virtual prison and back into the real world. It’s really nothing more than an excuse to take everything from Saints Row: The Third and magnify it by 4000.