If it was even possible to go beyond the crazy and completely over the top nature of Saints Row: The Third, Volition’s newest entry in the series looks up to the task. Saints Row IV (being published now by Deep Silver after THQ’s liquidation) plants your Saints leader in the office of the United States President during an alien invasion.
The days of Saints Row being a Grand Theft Auto clone were long over even before The Third, but this game looks to continue the insanity that has marked the series departure from. The basic premise to kick off the narrative of Saints Row IV has the now President kidnapped by the aforementioned aliens and trapped in the virtual reality. Characters can be imported from the previous title if players don’t want to start a new one from scratch.
The designers of the game were very open with the fact that this game is a combination of a sequel that began development before The Third shipped, and an expansion pack for that game titled Enter the Dominatrix. In the latter days of the THQ saga it was decided the two be put together in a full blown sequel.
During a presentation by developers at PAX East, three big additions to the franchise were emphasized.
Having the game take place in a virtual world within the Saints universe allows Volition to do things that wouldn’t have felt natural in their already established ridiculous game world. New to the game are attainable superpowers, such as giving the player the ability to glide through the world and upgrade their powers to allow themselves to do things such as freeze enemies and vehicles with ice. This aspect of the game brought to my mind a comparison to the rampant destruction of the Prototype series, which was one of the aspect praised in those games.
Volition is also adding to the weapon upgrade system from the previous game. In addition to making your guns hold more ammunition and fire at a quicker rate, players can now change what it looks like entirely. An example during the hands-off demo was a rocket launcher being re-skinned to look like a guitar case. The weapon is still held the the same way by the player and acts the same way with whatever upgrades have been applied to it, but the rockets now fire out of the guitar case rather than the default appearance. The developers talked about how this was added in to create variety amongst players.
Making its debut in Saints Row IV is the much talked about Dubstep Gun. This weapon does pretty much what it sounds like it does, fires dubstep at your enemies, causing them to break down and dance to the music being shot out from the gun. Another new addition to Saints Row IV is a mech, because “We decided Saints Row needed a mech, so we added a mech.” As most mechs tend to do, it causes huge amounts of damage to enemies and surrounding environments. Once earned, the mech can be used as just another vehicle.
New enemies will also make an appearance in the game. Because of the alien invasion backdrop and the addition of superpowers, Volition felt they had to add opponents capable of giving players a challenge. Only a couple enemy types of the alien race “Xin” were shown off, including their version of a super powered character called the Warden. Little was shown of an actual battle with a Warden, but they promise to be chaotic.
The actual world map is very similar to what was found in Saints Row: The Third, but the developers say they are adding verticality to gameplay.
With the game releasing on Aug. 20, I asked developers if they were considering bringing the title to next-gen consoles that will likely release just a few months later. The response I was given is that Volition is focusing on developing this game for an Aug. release on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC and nothing beyond that. Take that how you will.