Previews: Deep Silver allowed us to take Saints Row 4 out for a test drive. Find out what we think and whether or not we are looking forward to the release.
The Saints are back and this time they are running the country. Saints Row 4 features you as leader of the Saints, president of the United States. It hasn’t taken long to make yourself at home as the White House is now known as the “White Crib” and you have your fellow Saints in power right next to you. In Saints Row 4 you aren’t president for too long before Earth is invaded by aliens and they start to take over. They quickly decimate the White Crib and begin to beam the best and brightest people they can find on to their ship. As the president you run into the oval office to get to your cache of weapons and your adventure begins.
For those of you who have played Saints Row The Third you should feel right at home with Saints Row 4 as far as how the game controls. That isn’t to say, however, that there hasn’t been some changes. Since the Saints have been kidnapped and put into a virtual Steelport that means that things that aren’t normally possible on Earth become possible here. Similar to how it works in the Matrix movies, you will gain “super powers” as you progress through the game that will allow you to jump to the top of buildings in a single jump (or continue to jump up the wall for an exceedingly tall building), run with super speed and more. Woah. There are events peppered throughout the world that will take advantage of these newfound powers such as races where you need to touch a certain number of energy gates to extend your time, jump to the top of a building when necessary and avoid firewalls, which is literally a wall of fire. You’ll need to do all of this while going top speed as well which can make it really challenging if you aren’t completely focused on what you are doing.
Additionally, since you are in a simulation, you will have a virtual garage. Your virtual garage works just like your garage in previous Saints games, except you don’t have a physical location this time. To save a car you are driving to your virtual garage all you have to do is hold down on the d-pad for approximately two seconds while it saves the car. At any point after that you can use your in-game cell phone to call for vehicle delivery and have the car of your choice immediately delivered to you. Personally, I prefer the virtual garage to the ones we have had in previous games. Getting your cars is a lot quicker and you don’t have to worry about losing that hot new car you just found as it will always be at your fingertips.
As you are driving around virtual Steelport you will also come across these data clusters. By collecting these data clusters you will allow Kinzie to further hack into the simulation to help you out such as unlocking the aforementioned super powers. Variations of familiar activities from the Saints Row franchise are in the game too along with well known shops such as Friendly Fire. Some of these activities include UFO Mayhem, Wreck the Simulation and more. There are flashpoints for you to capture which you can do so by simply eliminating all of the enemies that are guarding that outpost. While you are engaged in combat with enemies you will get to play around with all of the different weapons you have found. For the purposes of the preview build we were given, we didn’t have all of the weapons available to us. I did, however, play a different build recently at E3 where I was able to use some of the more exotic weapons such as the Black Hole and Dubstep gun. Utilizing the black hole gun you can simply shoot an object, which creates a mini black hole that will suck in everything around it for a brief period of time before disappearing. Using the Dubstep gun causes all kinds of chaos as enemies are dancing to the beat while explosions and other wackiness are going on all around them. I was definitely having a blast with these two weapons and can’t wait to get my hands on the full version of Saints Row 4 so I can really cause some damage in virtual Steelport.
If you don’t want to wreak havoc by yourself, Saints Row 4 also offers campaign co-op. You can join in with a friend from the very beginning of the story and wage war on Zinyak (alien overlord) together. If you join a game that your friend is hosting you can import your character from your single player campaign so that you will start off your co-op story with items you didn’t when you went through it via single player. When going through the game using co-op there are times where you get to control the action and other times where your teammate does. There were instances where I was having to do some quick QTEs while my partner watched the action unfold on his screen. If I failed those QTEs then that section would be restarted and my friend would get the opportunity to do it while I watched. It is a neat idea that I look forward to seeing work in the full game. There are also co-op activities to take advantage of such as a cat-and-mouse game, an activity where you have to fight each other and more. In the cat and mouse game, one of you is in a big monster truck (the cat) and the other is in a smaller all terrain vehicle (the mouse). The mouse needs to race through the city while trying to duck and dodge and just stay alive until the timer runs out. The cat on the other hand is barreling down on you and his objective is to run you over in the monster truck. Once the first round completes then you will switch roles so that each player gets a chance to experience both sides. One of my colleagues and I teamed up for these activities and seemed to have the most fun with the one where we are fighting. Essentially in this activity we had to rack up as many points as possible within the allotted time limit. The person who had the most points in the end wins. You get points by attacking your opponent in a variety of ways. During our battle I used an SMG, a regular pistol, an alien rifle and anything I could find. There were times when I would get a direct hit on my opponent and other times when he would catch me not looking and my character would get launched into the air. Both of these activities were a lot of fun and I look forward to seeing what else is there in the finalized version.
The preview build we were given had around five main storyline missions so we were able to see a little bit of the story. You get your quests in the quests menu where you can choose whether you want to continue on with the story or simply do some side missions. An interesting thing I did notice is that game’s dialogue will change a bit depending on whether your character is male or female. I went through the same exchange with Kenzie with both sexes and the feel and conversations were along the same lines but the actual dialogue was a bit different. There is also a plethora of challenges for you to complete throughout the world of virtual Steelport which should keep you busy for a little while. Saints Row 4 seems to be complete with the trademark Saints humor that this franchise has built its reputation on. There were definitely times when I was left chuckling after a quick one liner or when you would hear that perfect song start up at just the right moment. Saints Row 4 also appears to still have a lot of the customizable options everyone enjoys such as creating your own character, being able to dress them however you want and that sort of thing. As you progress and wreak more havoc you will acquire more cache which you can empty when it is full to spend on buying more weapons, clothing or upgrading existing items that you already own.
The Saints Row 4 preview build that we were allowed to play didn’t let us see a whole lot but it did give us enough to want to play more of it and see what happens. It is still a lot of fun to tear around Steelport and perhaps even more so this time with your newfound powers. Saints Row 4 will be available on August 20 for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in North America and will be available on August 23 worldwide.