by Matt Porter
previewed on PC
Guns and strippers
Last Thursday I was invited to Saddler’s Hall, a place which was first built four hundred years before George Washington became leader of the United States. Regardless, the inside had been made up to look positively presidential for the Saints Row IV preview event I was attending. A third person action game where you play as US president certainly requires a degree of showmanship. However, there were some minor things that told me that I probably wasn’t going to be meeting Obama today. The gun cabinets and stripper poles were the first giveaway.
There was no exposition, we were just here to play the game. Clearly developer on the project Volition is very comfortable with the quality of their game by letting people play it with no introduction. Given the commercial success and critical acclaim of Saints Row The Third, they have every right to be. One of the fan favourite missions from the previous game was http://deckers.die, which took place inside a virtual world, allowing even more zany antics than usual. Volition’s Kate Nelson told me that fan feedback was one of the most important factors in creating Saints Row games. It certainly seems so, given the recent trailer featuring Johnny Gat, a much loved character who was thought to be dead. Nelson was giving nothing away surrounding the circumstances of his return though.
In the new game, a great chunk of the action occurs in a simulation in a similar fashion to that of the last game. This fake world has been created by alien invaders to torment you as the leader of the Saints, and new President of the United States. Of course, not being confined by the physics of the real world opens up endless possibilities for mayhem. And mayhem is definitely something that the Saints Row series is known for.
I played through the first few missions of the game, and then was granted access to a late game character with a bunch of powers and weapons unlocked. Saints Row IV opens with your team storming a terrorist facility in order to prevent a nuclear launch. Disaster strikes however, as the nuke launches just as you reach it. Its target? Washington D.C. Thankfully, your character has the sense to dive onto the missile and ride it up into the sky, disarming it before it reaches its destination, all to the tune of I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing by Aerosmith. He then jumps off the weapon and sends a cheeky thumbs up to the camera before skydiving without a parachute. The mission ends with you crash landing in the Oval Office right into the president’s chair. It is dumb in the best possible way, and really sets the tone for the rest of the game.
After choosing your look from the wonderfully deep customisation options (you can choose from three male voices, three female voices, or one simply titled “Nolan North”), you are put straight back into the action. Five years later, nothing seems to have calmed down. The unthinkable happens as aliens invade the White House, triggering a gunfight through the presidential residence. Starting with the Oval Office being transformed into an armoury, and culminating in you fighting off enemy spaceships using the newly installed South Portico anti air turrets, the ridiculousness continues. However, your attempts are in vain, as you lose in hand to hand combat to Zinyak, the head alien. He places you in this simulated version of Steelport, where crucially, all trace of the Saints has been erased. Luckily, you do still have contact with tech expert Kinzie, who tells you that you need to degrade the system stability by completing various activities around fake-Steelport.