We’ve been looking forwards to Saints Row IV ever since Deep Silver surprised us all with its announcement earlier this year. Yet much of its hard-earned limelight has been stolen by Rockstar’s upcoming GTA V. Rockstar release a few screenshots, one gameplay trailer and the world goes nuts, despite the press not even being allowed to touch it. Same old story, same old Rockstar.
Well, balls to them. Less than a month before GTA lands, one of the worst gaming droughts we’ve seen ends with numerous big hitters and none of them look half as entertaining as Saints Row IV. Here at Dealspwn we’ve had plenty of updates, trailers, interviews and hands-on sessions and it’s time to tell you why you’ll be having more fun with the dudes in purple.
You're not as grown up as you think you are
It's crude, rude, and lewd and you'll enjoy it all despite knowing better. Sure, we have games that try to be funny and just come out as embarrassing (hello Lollipop Chainsaw and Deadpool) but SR games have consistently amused with humorous missions and characters you'd never be able to call boring.
Unlike the competition, Saints Row has always allowed you to create the game’s leading star so there are no complaints about how they look or sound. Get under their skin and they still manage to have a fun personality thanks to a decent range of voices to choose from and a tongue-in-cheek script.
Rockstar tried to use Niko, Roman and it's collection of racial stereotypes to tell an interesting story in GTA IV, but amidst all the dull friend missions, overcooked accents and never-ending escort jobs, they proved to be a collection of unlikable, tediously miserable bastards. Whereas here we have a street gangster who became so popular they went from the crack house, to the whorehouse to the White House despite a seedy obsession for all things purple and gangsta.
What was the point of Rockstar trying to make Niko out to be this wounded soul, haunted by his past in Eastern Europe when most players were going to make him run down pedestrians, shoot pigeons and kill all of the prostitutes in Liberty City with molotovs before robbing their still flaming purses? Yeah Rockstar, a kill/forgive choice at the end was really deep after what we'd put the poor fucker through.
The best Create-a-Character system this gen
Recent generations of gaming hasn't half produced some proper boring sods. Master Chief, Killzone-dude, Cole (Infamous), Niko Bellic, Connor (ACIII) and so on. Here you have a huge open world game that lets you create a male or female lead, with multiple voices to choose from including a range of ethnicities.
You can go right off the deep end with it. Chrome skin, orange afro and a mankini? It’s your wardrobe Mr. President. Download the Inauguration Station now for free, see for yourself and make a character to upload to the game upon release.
Become Super Saint
Oh right, I almost forgot, you can throw cars with your mind. If you ever played the Prototype games and enjoyed leaping over buildings and booting soldiers down a couple of city blocks, but wished you could do this in a game that wasn't otherwise balls then Saints Row IV is what you've been waiting for.
Open-world crime games have run their course for Volition, so they've decided to add a healthy sci-fi mixer to the formula. The results on the story are look-the-other-way preposterous, but essentially, you find yourself as the President of the USA but trying to break out of a digital simulation of Steelport to fight off the alien invasion in addition to the usual pratting around.
I recently got to try out some of the new skills and can't wait for you guys to play with them too. Superfast running, gliding, super jumps, wall running and new elemental attacks all feel fantastic, as do the improved fighting skills like the turbo charged nut-punch. Taps of the d-pad prime new abilities like fireballs, telekinesis and a freeze ray that lets you shatter enemies with gunfire.
Vehicles handle like a video games should (fun and wild)
What were Rockstar thinking for the cars in GTA IV? Cars should never feel like they’re towing a caravan with four flat tires.
Volition have consistently given us fast cars that relish drifting around corners until our heart's content. You have so much control too, meaning you can tuck in or widen a drift with a gentle nudge of the analogue stick.
Good thing too as cars will still play an important role in the game, as extended turbo sprints aren’t unlocked until later in the game. If the driving is as fun as it's always been with the Saints then we're sure not to mind getting behind the wheel. Sounds better than being forced to get cabs everywhere again.
Keith David & friends
You'll get this or you won't. Fans of all things awesome -or people susceptible to being persuaded of said-awesomeness by enthusiastic internet people with keyboards- punched the air with joy to hear Keith David will be once again appearing in Saints Row, this time as himself.
But maybe the star of Mass Effect 3 and Crash doesn’t do it for you. Well check out Troy Baker (Bioshock Infinite, The Last of Us), Nolan North (Uncharted and all the games), and a surprising visit from Neil Patrick Harris –aka the only one in How I met Your Mother that you wouldn’t feed into a wood-chipper on sight. Ok, it’s not exactly Ray Liotta, but Rockstar haven’t managed to snare anybody that cool since Vice City.
The lost weekends
A good open world game should be capable of being played all day at the weekend without barely looking at the story missions.
Saints Row looks set to deliver the perfect hangover cure again in this regard with lots of collectibles dotted around the city. Ability upgrade tokens are scattered throughout the city and they often require platforming skills, or skydiving out of an alien attack ship to pick up.
Then there are the usual side-missions, including the never-boring timed rampages where you destroy everything in sight for cash bonuses, with a huge neon alien tank, a spaceship, or a mech. Just playing with the new weapons is a fun distraction too; dubstep canons, bounce guns, black hole guns, inflator rays and many more are tempting alternatives to the usual boomsticks.
Ok, Rockstar haven't spilled the beans on the multiplayer yet for GTA V, which isn’t exactly surprising, but they have confirmed there won’t be any campaign co-op, despite the game’s theme of swapping between three characters.
So what does SRIV have planned? The exact opposite. Two player co-op online. Players will be able to jump into someone else’s game with their own character and keep any XP and cash they earn during their visit. Or you can get somebody to join your game to avoid spoilers.
It would be nice to be unleashed into the open world competitively, but to be honest it would probably draw away valuable development resources from the rest of the game. And seeing as we almost never saw this game after the sad demise of THQ, we’re more than happy with what Volition and Deep Silver are offering.
We’re sure many will argue that Saints Row games are a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none, but you’ll never be able to call them dull. Saints Row IV really wants to put a mad-ass grin on gamers’ faces throughout and for its relentless mission to let us have fun in a varied sci-fi/crime sandbox experience we salute it.
Saint Row IV is out August 23rd on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.