Previews
Saints Row IV Preview - Aliens, Virtual Reality, and Dubstep

Sarah LeBoeuf | 26 Mar 2013 21:23
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With an open world full of fun activities, a bizarre assortment of weapons (including the infamous Penetrator, or dildo bat), and an over-the-top story, Saints Row: The Third was one of the most enjoyable games of 2011. After being in development for years and finding itself in the hands of a new publisher, its follow-up, Saints Row IV, is finally approaching completion. From the short look at the game I got at PAX East this weekend, it seems like Saints Row IV is aiming to be bigger, sillier, and even more ridiculous than its predecessor, which hopefully means it will be even more enjoyable.

In creating the next game in Volition's Saints Row series, the developers wanted to give fans more of what they loved about Saints Row: The Third without making it over-the-top just for the sake of it. So how are they planning to top the Saints' destructive takeover of Steelport in SR3? Well, now the leader of the Saints is also the President of the United States of America. Hey, why not? In addition to showing off your patriotic side with some star-spangled outfits, there will be a payoff for playing as the leader of the free world--though the developers wouldn't say what it was.

Oh, and did I mention you'll also have super powers? Run fast, jump high, freeze unsuspecting passersby and shatter them, or launch people and cars through the air with telekinesis--your path of mayhem won't just be caused by weapons and vehicles anymore. Designed to make you feel "like a badass," these powers can be used for hand-to-hand combat or just to get around town more quickly. Since that will give you a pretty big advantage over the standard rival gang members, Volition is introducing a new foe: the Zin, a race of evil aliens that kidnap you and stick you in a virtual Steelport. Naturally.

I got a few quick glimpses of the virtual version of Steelport, which is darker and more twisted than the real thing. There will be a few other mission-based virtual worlds throughout the game for some variety in your surroundings, though none were shown in the presentation. Another thing that makes this Steelport different from the city you explored in SR3 is the height: the vertical scope of the game is much bigger. Since you'll be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, there's more to see and do above sidewalk-level, like fighting on roofs of buildings. Virtual Steelport is still chock full of collectibles and side activities, like destroying everything in sight in Mech Suit Mayhem. You can even try to get better rankings in activities to get items to use in the real world, which is good, because that Mech suit will probably come in handy when your purple monster truck is in the shop.

If being the president with super powers in a virtual world invaded by aliens isn't zany enough for you, the new weapons and increased customization options should do the trick. There's the Inflate-O-Ray, which inflates its targets until they pop; it's probably a terrible way to die, but watching a pedestrian's head swell up like a balloon before exploding in a shower of blood was one of the more amusing moments of the demo. Then there's the dubstep gun, which literally kills people with dubstep music, making Saints Row IV the best use of dubstep since dubstep became a thing. SR3's weapon upgrades are still there, but now you can take it even further by completely changing the look of your guns--a rocket launcher that looks like a guitar case? Why not?

The developers promised that Saints Row IV would have a lot of nods to the previous games in the series, but newcomers won't be lost. A North American release date of August 20 has already been announced, so there's really only one question left to ask: where's the dildo bat?

Volition's response? "We are not revealing our strategy for the Penetrator."

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