Saints Row IV (PC) Preview
Hey everyone! Did you like Saints Row 3? Well, Saints Row IV (4) is pretty much like that, only even more crazy. They’ve gone even more insane with what you can do, namely super powers, and giving you a slightly updated Steelport for you to cause mayhem in.
The demo starts off with you chasing down Cyrus Temple (leader of STAG) from the previous game. After dispatching him quickly, stopping a nuclear missile from hitting Washington, you fall into the White House and elected to be the President. Then, aliens invade, plug you into their version of the Matrix and the game really begins.
To start with, about 99% of this game plays exactly like Saints Row 3. If you didn’t like that game, you’re not likely to enjoy this one. Then again, only heartless monsters disliked SR3, so you can stop reading now. The biggest addition to the game is the super powers, of which there were three in this version, which you can upgrade via collecting “Clusters” of fragmented data around the city. They are basically upgrade points for your super power set.
The first is super sprint, which is what it sounds like. You run faster than you can drive cars, which is kind of crazy. You can upgrade this power to make you run faster, to use up less of your stamina, to run up walls/buildings, and to not take damage from running into things. The game manages to keep up with this power active which is a nice feat of technical engineering.
The second is a super jump ability. It’s kind of like the super jump from Prototype 2 only more controlled with how it operates. You can jump a short distance, or hold down the button for a charged jump which makes you go higher. Upgrades to this power involve you being able to recover from botched jumps, jumping higher, air-dashing, and a glide mechanic.
The last ability is a freeze blast your character can use. This lets you throw out a freeze bolt that can flash-freeze enemies, letting you shatter them with ease. The upgrades to this include a faster recharge for the attack, a bigger radius for the blast, or causing bodies to explode when they die. You can swap out the “Freeze” part of this power, with either fire or mind control. I didn’t have access to those in the game, but they are self-explanatory.
The thing is, the super powers opens up a whole host of new activities for you to do which tweak the formula of Saints Row. The biggest revelation to me is that they finally fixed the “Insurance Fraud” mini-game. I’ve been playing Saints Row from the start and never once actually figured out how to do the mini-game well. I would always do the bare minimum to get me passed the missions and forget them. In this game though, you have super speed, which evens the playfield quite nicely. You can just run into opposite traffic, activate ragdoll and go flying hundreds of feet into the air, like a superpowered pinball, as you’re bounced between different cars. So, congrats to Volition for finally fixing this mini-game.
There are other activities for you to partake in as well; Flashpoints, “Blazin”, Hotspot, Security Deletion and Virus Injection. A lot of these are twists of Saints Row 3 side-mission types, but are enjoyable. Flashpoints are about you killing around 15 enemies huddled around a beacon. Once they’re dead, a bigger enemy usually shows up to stop you. You can dispatch him, and the point is taken over. “Blazin” is a type of race, where you’re speeding around the city on foot, collecting green orbs to slow your timer down, and avoiding the red firewalls that slow you down. Hotspot is a bit like a Flashpoint, but there are three switches platforms surrounding a force-field. You need to disable the switches and attack the hotspot in order to destroy it. Security Deleting has you tracking a specific target down and trying to eliminate them. And Virus Collection involves you trying to steal a specific car and drive it back to the starting point.
Really, this is only a small number of activities in the game. There’s the cluster-collecting, tower climbing, finding audio files, saving vehicles. When you hijack a vehicle in the game, you can press down the Dpad to save it. Then you can call it up on your hud to have it delivered to where you are. It’s a nice addition but considering how little you’ll be in vehicles. It’s kind of like the Crackdown problem, yes you can use cars to get around, but it’s easier and more fun just to around the city.
The one thing I won’t mention in this preview is the story. I don’t want to get too deep into it, mainly because it will ruin the surprise/humor of the game. But the big people are mostly back in the game, minus Viola from what I’ve seen. They also brought back Benjamin King from the first game, who was one of the more notable characters (left alive) from it. The humor all works though, the moments that harken back to Saints Row 3, and how the game screws with your expectations some.
While there have been some early contenders for some of the best games of the year, Bioshock Infinite, and The Last of Us spring to mind, really, Saints Row IV is the game to beat this year. When I was finished with the preview I was actually pissed because I wanted to play it again. I loaded up a new save, picked a new character, and did the entire preview game again. It’s some of the most fun I’ve had with a game this year, and I can’t wait for the full version of the game, due out on August 20th. Oh, also? Kinzie is still one of the best characters, ever.