The Saints Row series has always been the sillier, over-the-top parallel to Rockstar’s more somber, serious Grand Theft Auto series. When Saints Row the Third came out, many of us thought they’d gone as far as they could with that aspect. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I’m glad to say that Volition has crossed that line.
Saints Row IV takes place years after the events of The Third, and it does canonically connect to one of that game’s two endings (though, to avoid spoilers, I won’t say which one). The most important thing to note is that in that time, the Saints have gotten so popular that their leader is now the President of the United States, leader of the free world. So, with the Saints in the Oval Office, who can stop their lovable vices?
Aliens, apparently. The enemy in this installment is the alien horde known as the Zin, who trap The Boss in a virtual version of Steelport, the Saints Row universe’s analog to New York City, and setting of Saints Row the Third. Why not just wipe out the Saints, Independence Day-style? Evidently the Zin like to break the will of world leaders, and that’s why they’ve taken these measures.
Because of the new virtual setting, this offers players a few new abilities. The most notable are superpowers, which The Boss acquires as he progresses through the campaign. The feats include super speed (which should look familiar to those who played The Trouble With Clones DLC for SR3), a Crackdown-like high jump, gliding, powerful melee attacks, ice blasts, and telekinesis. These powers won’t be available from the get-go, but they should provide plenty of new ways to screw around in Steelport, although the new movement options may make vehicles obsolete. Thanks to these powers, there will be more verticality to this version of Steelport, allowing for further dimensions of exploration. An enemy type called the Warden was also shown: a Zin with superpowers. Hopefully they won’t be too similar to the Brutes from SR3.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that the Saints won’t have an arsenal. Two of the weapons shown were the Inflato-Ray, which causes people to balloon up and explode, and of course, the Dubstep Gun… which is exactly what it sounds like. Weapons can now also have visual modification instead of just how they function. The rocket launcher could be made to look like both a guitar case as well as the classic Super Scope from the SNES. About 30 weapons will be featured in the final product. New vehicles were also showcased: a monster truck (which I can’t remember being in any other installments), and a mech-suit, which comes with its own brand of the Mayhem activity (much like Tank Mayhem).
Speaking of which, Activities will now have Bronze, Silver, and Gold levels that you can complete simultaneously instead of having to play 3 or 6 different iterations of the same activity. This should help make these side-missions flow a bit better while also introducing an addicting “try again to beat my old score” aspect. Volition also promises that the map is packed with collectibles, which will serve greater purpose this time around. Property purchasing is gone, but the city takeover system in this game was described as “hacking” (which makes sense, considering the virtual setting.) Saintsbook missions are also said to be making a return in some modified form.
Thankfully, the game will be backwards-compatible with uploaded custom characters from Saints Row the Third. The story won’t contain as many “A or B” choices like there were in SR3, but it will have multiple endings and there will be certain optional missions that can affect the ending. Rival gangs such as the Deckers or Luchadores won’t be making appearances in the game, but we might see some cameos of their leaders, including gangs from past Saints titles. Co-op returns, although at the expense of losing the Whored Mode from SR3.
Considering that many of the ideas for this game were culled from the cancelled “Enter the Dominatrix” DLC for Saints Row the Third, it’s impressive to see what the fourth installment is shaping up to be like. The game looks and feels familiar, while still retaining an alien feeling (no pun intended). There is also planned DLC for the game, including a “Director’s Cut” of Enter the Dominatrix which should show what the original DLC was planned to be like. Thankfully, we won’t have to wait long for any of this: the inauguration begins August 20th.