3rd Street 4 Life.
Last week I was lucky enough to get my hands on a preview build of Saints Row IV, and with it being one of my favorite Open World franchises, I was more than excited to get an early look at the fourth entry in the series. Volition are set to release their newest version of the Saints on August 20th, which is only a month before their main competition, Grand Theft Auto V, is scheduled to be released. It’s never easy when you’re going up against a behemoth like Rockstar Games, but after playing SRIV all week, I think this is going to be the closest battle yet.
I’m not going to go super deep into Saints Row IV’s story, but I will say that what I saw was definitely the best work Volition have ever done. The game starts with the Saints saving the world from terrorists and then the leader of the Saints (you) becomes President of the United States. Soon after taking office, Aliens invade Earth and trap the Saints in a simulated version of Steelport where they must find a way to escape and save the planet. Again, this was only a preview build, so I only got a taste of the story and some of the missions, but I enjoyed every second of it.
For the most part, Saints Row IV is still the Saints Row that you’ve come to love over the last few years. It’s still a Third-Person Shooter, Steelport is still wide open for you to explore, there are still tons of crazy weapons to use, vehicles to drive, hilarious parodies and lots of wild activities to pass the time. The core of the game remains the same, but Volition takes the series to the next level by introducing Super Powers in Saints Row IV.
The Powers available in the preview build were Super Sprint, Super Jump and Blast. The first two are passive Powers and are pretty much exactly how they sound, with Super Sprint letting you run faster than cars and Super Jump letting you jump over buildings. These two Powers change the game completely and let you explore Steelport in ways you never could. Blast is an active Power that can be used to freeze enemies, burn them or even control their minds and make them fight with you, instead of against you. Both types of Powers can be upgraded using Data Clusters that you’ll find scattered throughout Steelport. Data Clusters are basically the new Green Orbs from Crackdown, as there are hundreds of them and they are just as addictive to find.
It’s obvious that Volition were inspired by other Open World games such as Crackdown, inFAMOUS and Prototype, and took some of their best parts and made them their own in Saints Row IV. The full game will feature even more Powers and I can’t wait to see what else they have in store for us. I actually went back and started playing Saints Row The Third again, just for fun, and it’s not even close to being as fun once you’ve had a taste of the Powers. Driving has definitely received some nice tweaks and it’s a much smoother drive in Saints Row IV, but why would I want to drive around when I can sprint faster and jump over entire buildings instead?
One thing that’s different in Saints Row IV that I’m not quite sure about yet is that Volition removed the regenerating health and now you have to find health pick-ups to restore it. Fallen enemies will drop health and you can purchase an upgrade that makes pedestrians drop health when they die as well, but I’m still trying to get used to not being able to just hide and let my health regenerate. I’m sure I’ll get over it eventually but it was the one thing that I didn’t instantly love during my time with Saints Row IV.
Although it played fine and looked decent on my PC, I’m not going to judge Saints Row IV by this preview build as far as graphics and performance go. It’s just not fair at this point. There’s still plenty of time for Volition to work out any issues (although I didn’t notice many) and get it in tip-top shape before the full game is in your hands. This preview build didn’t feature the two player online co-op or some of more ridiculous weapons such as the Dubstep Gun, the Inflato-Ray or even the new Mech, so there are still lots of things to look forward to when the game drops later this Summer.
The preview build was fairly short, but it was just enough to know that Saints Row IV is a game that I can see myself playing for hours on end. Forget the rest of the game, collecting hundreds of Data Clusters on its own is going to eat up hours of my life. It took me a long time to stop dreaming about Crackdown’s Green Orbs and I’m afraid of what might happen once the Data Clusters take over.
Saints Row IV will be released on August 20th, 2013, for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. For now, check out the latest trailer below.