Preview: Saints Row IV goes full Crackdown, and it's glorious!
If there was one fear I had going into this lengthy preview of Saints Row 4, it was that it would feel way too similar to Saints Row 3. After all, a lot remained the same. The character editor, while fantastic, is nearly identical to the one in the previous game. Steelport also remains largely the same, albeit this time aliens are involved. The graphics and art style, which undeniably was always a bit different through each Saints Row release, remained the same, as well. Would playing as the President with super powers really turn everything around and make this one of the most kickass, anticipated titles of the year? Yes.
Saints Row is at the point where anything goes, and I mean anything. Playing as the President, fighting off an alien invasion, roaming around a Matrix-style, virtual version of Steelport -- none of that seems out of place anymore, given the franchise's shift to the ridiculous. Saints Row 4 embraces it to the fullest.
After saving Washington D.C. from a missile strike, you're awarded Presidency. That means goodbye White House, hello White Crib. Things like curing cancer and preventing world hunger is as easy as signing a bill, and preventing a Senator from a filibuster is as easy as a punch to his nuts. The intro sequence to your Presidency sets the precedent for Saints Row's off-the-wall premise, and it takes off from there.
Aliens invade, enslave a chunk of humanity -- yourself included -- and place you in a virtual Steelport with no means of escape, just to torture you. Lucky for you, Kinzie, the brainiac Saint, is able to hack into this world and provide some much needed upgrades. In no time you'll have access to serious weaponry and some sweet super powers. A super-powered President didn't really make much sense (even for Saints Row standards) until it was revealed that we're not actually playing in the 'real world.'
Though I didn't get to experience all of the powers since the game only went through a few Story missions, I did get to run around Steelport in super speed, jump to incredible heights, scale skyscrapers and glide through the skies. It felt very much like Crackdown, and that's not a bad thing. If anything, I'd say the marriage of Crackdown-like traversal with Saints Row's Steelport make for a much more interesting setup.
Like Crackdown's orbs, you'll be jumping and dashing up buildings to collect Data Clusters; these will serve to upgrade your current powers. Your super jumps will get more super, and your top running speed will reach Sonic levels. Having these powers at my disposal made cars seem downright pointless, and any missions which required me to drive now seemed like a drag.
Offensively, I got a taste of some sweet alien weaponry, such as the Dominator (Rifle), the Xenoblaster (SMG) and the Tyrant (RPG). While I do believe the dildo bat is still in the game, since I saw enemies using it, I did get access to its alien counterpart: the Violator -- a green tentacle bat. Sadly, there was no dubstep gun to be found in this build. However, the Abduct-o-Matic was just as much fun to use. Pointing this gun at a group of enemies will suck them up into the sky, then violently drop them down, killing them instantly.
The only offensive super power at my disposal was the Freeze Blast, which I'm sure is one of the more tame offensive powers in the game. This blast will freeze anything in its path and in an expanding area, assuming you upgrade it. Anything frozen can be punched or run through with super speed causing the frozen object to shatter into tiny pieces. This makes eliminating a group of enemies a breeze.
As I previously mentioned, the preview build only let me experience a few Story missions, yet I poured over eight hours into it. Like in previous Saints Row games, there are a slew of side missions and activities to take part of, some that are new to Saints Row 4. Blazin' will have you super run through checkpoints as fast as possible, picking up green orbs to increase your speed and shave off some time. Taking over areas will require you to shut down various shield generators guarding a tower, and then shut the tower down once the shield is off, all while fending off waves of aliens. Some classic activities return, as well. Insurance fraud is still there, making sure you break all your bones and smash into as many objects as possible to get the most amount of money, though super speed and super jump make this activity a lot crazier. Mayhem missions also make a return, putting you in the cockpit of UFOs and other alien vehicles, and letting you unleash chaos across the streets of Steelport. Then you have various collectibles like Saints audio logs and data clusters scattered around the city, not to mention a slew of Zin statues to destroy. What I'm getting at is that there's tons to do, and the fact that this was only a preview build should further enforce that.
Watching clips and videos doesn't do the game nearly enough justice. Saints Row 4 is a game that needs to be played to be understood and appreciated. Thankfully, the wait to be an ass-kicking, super-powered President won't be a long one, since the game is coming out next month, August 20th.
Hail to the mutha#$%&ing Chief baby!