The Average Gamer

E3 2013: Saints Row IV Hands-On

Saints Row IV - TurretI haven’t had this much fun playing a videogame since, well, the last Saints Row game. Seriously, Saints Row IV (SRIV) makes all the other Saints games look positively tame. Yes, I know that the third game turned you into a virtual toilet at one point but in SRIV you’re the President of the United States with superpowers and you can frickin fly!

As Laura mentioned in her SRIV preview, this game place 5 years after saving Steelport in Saints Row The Third. You start the game wandering around as the President in your White Crib, the new name for the White House, making those big decisions – curing cancer or ending world hunger – during your walk to a press conference. Imagine the TV show The West Wing but with strippers, booze, guns and swearing. Oh, with Shaundi (who appears to have had a boob job between games) playing the character of C. J. Cregg, The White Crib’s press officer.

Then when the aliens attack rather helpfully in the middle of your press conference, everything goes tits up, Saints Row style. There’s explosions, abductions, space ship battles and a brutal contre tant with a eloquent Zen alien leader, who of course has an impeccable British accent. It’s clear from this moment, the aliens have bigger balls than the Saints, figuratively speaking.

True to the series, SRIV is an open world game built around a backbone of main plot missions. In between, during and at any other point in the game you’ll be cocking around the city shooting people in the face, driving fast, playing with all the weapons, flying, killing aliens and generally abusing your superpowers. Ok, that’s what I did anyway.

Three things in this game really stood out. First, the Singularity Gun is insanely fun to use. It’s a gun that fires mini black holes that suck everything in the immediate vicinity into oblivion. Buildings, cars, space ships, aliens, people and trees. Nothing is safe. It’s utter, mindless destruction.

Secondly, the Dubstep Gun. If you’ve never seen an alien space ship dancing to dubstep in mid air then you just haven’t lived. Armed with this gun you can unleash the power of the (dub)step on anything. Personally, I’m not a fan of this type music at all but I had a ton of fun playing with this gun. It’s utterly nuts. Wub, wub, wub.

Finally, flying. There I was, perched miles about the ground on some sort of giant tower, trying not to fall of the edge, when one of the Volition devs suggested that I just jump of the edge and fly down to the bottom as it would be much quicker. Uh, ok. It seemed so obvious when he said it to me. Happily, flying is a doodle to master. Hold down one button and point where you want to go. Easy. Remember how much fun it was floating around the world in the brilliant PS Vita game Gravity Rush? It’s just as much fun in SRIV. Driving around in cars, by comparison, seems almost old school.

Saints Row IV - Super SprintUsing your other superpowers is quick and easy too. RB (on the 360) cycles through the ones you have equipped, making them available for use at the touch of a button. More can be unlocked by collective data clusters scattered throughout the world. Superpowers do have a recharge lag to prevent you abusing the crap out of them. The shockwave power is stupidly destructive and one of my favorites, sending a wave (of shock, funnily enough) emanating from the point you thunder into the ground after activating it.

Once I played around with these uber-destructive weapons and superpowers, I understood the need for a much more powerful enemy in this world. Normal humans just aren’t kickass enough, whereas aliens on the other hand, they are bloody tough.

Saints Row IV is going to be the most insane Saints Row game to date so who are Volition going to surprise us with this time after Burt Reynolds’ starring role as the Mayor of Steelport. It’s got to be someone huge. Maybe a real ex-President? We’ll find out when Saints Row IV is released for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in Aug 2013.

Saints Row IV - Hallway BattleSaints Row IV - Aliens