Saints Row IV: A Pleasant Day In Steelport
Saints Row IV – Introduction
Last Fall NCsoft pulled the plug on the superhero MMO City of Heroes, and shortly thereafter THQ, the publisher of the Saints Row series, went into bankruptcy. Gamers faced the sudden loss of two beloved franchises. Even though City of Heroes seems to gone for good, Saints Row IV has surfaced to take up the mantle of the hero and wage a never-ending struggle for Truth, Justice and the American Way! But because it’s Saints Row, players are just as likely to be fighting against Truth, Justice and the American Way.
Before THQ went under, the developers at Volition had been simultaneously working on Saints Row IV in which players control a gang Boss who becomes President of the United Stated, but Volition was also making a “The Matrix” themed DLC pack for Saints Row The Third. The two projects have been rolled together and now Saints Row IV lets players control a Super Powered POTUS!
The premise is that evil aliens have invaded Earth and kidnapped the President, along with various members of the Third Street Saints gang. The President awakens in an alien computer simulation where he, or she can hack the virtual reality to gain abilities like super speed, super jumps, and energy blasts.
Players who tried all of the DLC packs for SRIII will recall that aliens and super powers were both available in the previous game. With a couple of hacks these features could even be permanently unlocked for PC players. Because of this, Saints Row IV might come across as just a big DLC pack to the casual observer; it’s still set in the city of Steelport, and many of the gameplay mechanics are still the same, but it only takes a little bit of hands-on play to see how the game has evolved into a much different experience.
The super powers are much more extensive this time around, the most noteworthy addition being the super jump that lets players effortlessly hurdle obstacles and most buildings (In SRIII even when players had super speed, they still couldn’t jump much higher than the typical car can jump). Augmenting this is the super speed; Players can now easily outrun cars, and even go straight up walls or across water. The preview code didn’t allow flight, but players can glide for tremendous distances. This is all the more exciting because players can leap to the top of tall buildings, then use the glide power to travel over great distances.
You Think That’s Air You’re Breathing
Rather than being centered on guns and cars, Saints Row IV is an adventure on the rooftops and skies of Steelport. Vehicles can still be jacked, and many missions require players to use a particular vehicle type, so players won’t always be on foot. There are still guns, but super strength and special melee attacks can be used to clobber powerful enemies more effectively than many guns. Players can quickly close in on gun-toting bad guys and finish them off with a super kick or brutal charging attack that results in a one-hit kill.
Players have the option to level up their character RPG style to focus on different powers, but the powers have their own sort of currency which you’ll need to build them up. There are bits of computer code scattered around the city, and each super power upgrade requires a certain number of these data packs. Players who want to focus on the powers can devote their whole time to zooming around collecting these.
As with SRIII, players will gain currency and Experience Points to upgrade their weapons, and mundane skills. Money can’t be used to upgrade powers, so players aren’t put in a position where they have to choose between upgrading their powers and their traditional skills. Some of these ordinary abilities like Stamina and Melee strength are still useful for players who want to focus on super powers, so there is an enormous amount of customization and specialization available.
Players shouldn’t put all of their eggs in one super basket, though. Every now and then the President will have to unplug from the Matrix and explore the real world where there is no super powers (but there is spoons).
More of the same? Yes, Saints Row IV is certainly more of the same. But it’s a LOT more of the same eclectic and zany adventures that players loved in Saints Row The Third. Players who liked SRIII will find that Saints Row IV is pure fan service that gives them everything they’ve been begging for. Gamers who have jonesing for a new superhero fix after City of Heroes should also keep an eye on Saints Row IV. It releases for PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 on August 20th, leaving plenty of time for curious players to take a run through Saints Row The Third in the meantime.
Note: Saints Row The Third is available to download as part of PlayStation Plus on the EU store.