After the end of Saints Row: The Third, you’d be quite right to wonder what on earth Volition could possibly have left in store for a fourth entry in the series – The Third already had one of the craziest and most outlandish plots in recent gaming history, mixed in with a grab bag of silly gameplay that always kept you on your toes.
So, fans of the game will be glad to hear that Saints Row IV doesn’t follow a path advocated by Cliffy B, but continues to do its own thing, turning everything up to 11, 12 and beyond. This to the extent that my jotted notes from the presentation just look like a list of totally unrelated words. Whilst I’m tempted to just post a scan of this spidery scrawl of words, I’ll try and make a little sense of them.
Don't forget to act presidential.
Although, you won’t be running around in Washington, being all presidential, and are still causing mayhem in Steelport once more.
Of course, there’s no way your regular coppers would pick a fight with POTUS, and even a reappearance from STAG would be a little odd with the President as their prime target.
So it makes sense that the antagonists come from further afield. Lightyears away, in fact. The Zen ships sit above the skyscrapers of Steelport, giving off an ominous red glow, but their invasion is a more clandestine affair. As you raise all sorts of hell, nearby cops will come at you, but as combat kicks up a few gears, they’ll reveal their true alien forms.
The combat is getting a huge expansion from every angle to help you in the fight against the extraterrestrials. Sure, you can still run around with a pair of submachine-guns in hand, but wouldn’t you rather play with new guns like the Inflate-o-Matic or Dubstep Cannon?
Similarities to the wacky weaponry you see in Ratchet & Clank games will no doubt be made, as the Inflate-o-Matic brilliantly enlarges the head of the target before their eyes bug out and they explode in a wet mess.
Meanwhile the Dubstep Cannon shoots dubstep, making cars bounce and people dance, which sounds like a Saints Row styled Groovitron to me.
Then again, the President is no slouch in a fight even when not using guns. I’m not talking about the extra hand to hand moves and animations, but rather the array of super powers. That’s not a bird or a plane, that’s the President leaping over the tops of buildings and gliding to the ground. You’ll be able to run faster than most of the cars and freeze people into shatterable human popsicles.
You guys need to chill out. Saints Row IV ups the ante with a whole host of superpowers - something that brings a fresh twist to the gameplay yet still manages to fit the Saints Row universe.
So we arrive back at the tricky question of balancing out the combat.
The Zen might be aliens with weird and wonderful weapons of their own, but considering that they have to go toe to toe with a superhero, it’s lucky that they’ve brought some of their own superpower-wielding beings across the galaxy.
The origins of this game as the Enter The Dominatrix DLC was really quite clear to see. The engine has carried forward the same look and style of SR3, with a menu system which looked identical, while it’s still the city of Steelport, even with all of the transformations it has undergone during this invasion.
That’s not to say that this isn’t worthy of being a full standalone release, though. There are reams and reams of new content, from the points like the superpowers which completely change the gameplay on offer, to monster trucks and new side missions featuring mechsuits.
While it might have the familiar trappings of The Third, this is a sequel which will change everything.
Saints Row IV is heading to PS3, Xbox 360 and PC on the 23rd of August 2013.