Saints Row IV is insane. With each chapter in Volition’s open-world crime simulator, the stakes for said insanity seem to rise just a bit higher. I recently had a chance to sit down with the newest installment in the series, and play through the first act of the main story, while also tearing through plenty of side quests and activities. What is here is familiar, with some new toys to create the most deranged experience yet.
The game opens with the Saints hunting down a known terrorist threat in a distant desert. This entire sequence feels ripped right out of a Michael Bay film, complete with forcing the player into a third-person tactical shooter mode. This sequence ends with one of the best music/gameplay collaborations since hearing “Hero” during the end sequence of the last Saints Row. Volition knows how to drop in just the right tracks for the appropriate sequences.
This is only the beginning though. The writing in SR4 once again shines bright with plenty of well-delivered humor, and great references. The Leave it to the Saints is brilliant, and the way your character handles being the President is perfect. Some have feared the game might have gone too far over the top, but I assure you, what is here is wonderfully executed.
I don’t want to go into too much detail about specifics, because they are better experienced first-hand, but the first act of this game proves that Volition is on the right track in delivering the same top-tier experience we got from Saints Row: The Third.
As for the game play itself, there are definitely some new and exciting toys to play with. The easiest way to sum up how I felt playing SR4 is if the series had somehow mated with the original Crackdown, and then tossed in alien technology for the weapons. Super powers are the biggest draw of SR4, and they make wandering around the city even more fun than it has ever been. The preview version gave me access to two mobility powers, and one attack power. Once I obtained the power to freeze enemies and vehicles, I couldn’t help but to hunt down a mascot, and shatter their hopes and dreams.
I can’t begin to tell you how much fun the powers are in Saints Row IV. Leaping from building to building, all the while seeing the view of the city is incredible. Sprinting around and climbing up the side of buildings nearly eliminates the need for cars. When I am not performing these actions, it takes the pace down to a crawl. It is so much fun to just move around the city, and collecting data clusters (essentially orbs) to level up the powers is as addicting as one might imagine.
Leveling up each power is done using the clusters. The upgrades are fairly similar to the existing player upgrades. I had to reach a certain overall level before some would unlock. Jump can add a glide, and eventually even make it last longer. Again the progression is perfect, and each time an upgrade is added, going back to simply walking or driving a car feels mundane. The powers such as freezing enemies are assigned to the d-pad for quick selection. Then, tapping the bumper fires them, so players can still keep weapons equipped. The amount of toys Volition is eventually delivering with SR4 is going to create serious amounts of fun.
The bulk of the core game remains the same with a few interesting tweaks. For example, the radio is now available outside of the car. Don’t ask, the game does explain it. There are also new activities such as Virus Infection, but the favorites return such as Insurance Fraud and Tank Mayhem (which now also boasts UFO mayhem). Collecting the clusters brings out the OCD in me, as I constantly find myself in areas scavenging for more. I imagine that much like the Crackdown orbs, I won’t be able to stop until I collect them all; and there are a lot of them.
Visually the game retains the same look and feel of the previous game. Running on PC it looks slick, and keeps a steady frame rate throughout. The voice acting remains excellent, with all the voice choices returning, plus a special new one that made me chuckle upon seeing it in the menu. The soundtrack is once again outstanding. Taking out an area of aliens while Stan Bush’s “The Touch” blares in the background is what dreams are made of.
This preview build simply wasn’t enough to satisfy my tastes, and now August 20th cannot possibly come soon enough. Saints Row IV is shaping up to be a worthy successor to Volition’s finest title to date. I am so glad to see the series retain its identity, while still adding more and more to make the core experience fun. Expect to see more coverage as the release draws near, but rest assured, SR4 is packed with plenty of hours to get lost in once again.
Preview copy of game provided by publisher.
- Motherboard: ASUS P8Z77I Deluxe
- Liquid Cooling: Origin Frostbyte 120 Liquid Cooling
- Processor: Intel i7 3770K with Professional Origin PC Overclocking
- Memory: Corsair 8GB 1600 Mghz Vengeance
- Graphics Card: EVGA NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670