by Matt Porter
previewed on PC
Conveniently, the majority of these activities will be familiar to anyone who has played the other games in the franchise. Fan favourite Insurance Fraud returns alongside Mayhem, which this time has a variant in which you are controlling a hulking mech. There are of course regular missions to take part in, all of which will hopefully contribute to your escape from this strange world.
It is the new weapons and super powers that are the most exciting aspects of Saints Row IV though. Since you are not in the real world, you can channel your inner-Neo and leap great distances and run at great speeds. As your skills increase throughout the game you will be able to do a huge jump and then glide like a flying squirrel for hundreds of yards at a time. A new side activity is a checkpoint race using these new powers. There are other benefits to being in a virtual world too. For instance, the in-game radio isn’t just limited to cars anymore, now you can tune in from wherever you like. Equally, you don’t need someone to deliver a car to you when you can simply materialise one in front of you by using your phone. I didn’t see much point to using vehicles when you can run faster than them and jump over buildings, but the option is there. Your superpowers aren’t just limited to transport either. As you progress through the game you will unlock Telekinesis, a Fire Aura, a ground Smash and an AoE freeze ability.
Just in case Saints Row was sitting on the edge of insanity, the new weapons on show push it firmly over the line. A Dubstep Gun, which charges up and then emits jaw jarring wubs, causes everyone and everything (including vehicles) in the vicinity to start dancing is just one such example. The Singularity Gun launches miniature black holes which suck in everything around them, and an Inflato-Ray which causes the target to swell up and explode join more standard weapons like SMGs and shotguns in your large arsenal. As a big fan of the wacky gameplay options Saints Row offers, I asked Kate Nelson for some insight into the design process of the games. She told me that ideas came from all over the place, whether they be from one of many brainstorming sessions, or from a designer who had a dream (or nightmare) the night before and came running into the office with a great new idea. All of the upgrade paths from the previous game return, allowing you to do things like increase damage or equip explosive ammo.
Nelson told me that her favourite part of the game was how many different customisation options for your character there are. She loves that you can play as an empowered woman, especially given some of the controversy surrounding that topic in video games in the last year. Another thing she is proud of is the new co-op mode, where you can play through the entire campaign with a friend. I asked her whether there was another DLC plan following the set for Saints Row The Third. While she didn’t have concrete details for me, she could tell me that there was a plan for a DLC package that was similar in scope to that of the previous game.
Keeping things interesting
The hour or so I spent with the first few missions of the game were filled with laughter, and the late game save I tried out had so many gameplay options I barely had any idea where to begin. The troubles with publishers earlier in the year do not seem to have any adverse effect on the game, which is a very good thing. There is plenty of fan service on offer here, as well as a good amount of new features to keep things interesting. Saints Row IV will release on 20th August in North America and 23rd August for European consumers. So it’s not long now until we pledge allegiance to open world carnage.