Volition Inc.’s Saint’s Row franchise has developed a reputation for over-the-top gameplay, and the developers promise that that will continue in Saint’s Row IV. Said Jim Boone, Producer at Volition, Saint’s Row IV will be “even more over-the-top than anything we’ve done before.” The game focuses on the leader of the Third Street Saints, who is now the President of the United States and finds himself and the Saints abducted by an alien race called the Zin. They are held in a virtual prison and as part of the prison, he finds himself imbued with Superpowers and able to run around the city with even more ways to wreak havoc. Superpowers include speed and super-strength and super jumps, which also allows for gliding as a modified form of flight. Said Steve Jaros, creative director, he and the playtesters had difficulty keeping focus while trying to check the game for bugs. The first time they were thrown into the city, they would run around, leaping from rooftop to rooftop instead of fulfilling their objectives. The addition of superpowers allowed the developers to build the already sprawling city upwards instead of out, allowing for players to come at familiar buildings and locales from different angles. This changes the game in some amazing and fundamental ways.
Other ways the game will change are with the introduction of new weapons. Two of the weapons highlighted in the demo were the Inflato Ray and the Dub-Step gun. The Inflato Ray had the effect of filling an enemy with air, forcing them to expand like a balloon – their head and eyes grew to bulbous proportions – before they finally popped in a gory explosion. The effect was both cartoony and deadly. The Dubstep Gun caused an area attack that had everyone within its radius dancing to dubstep. It looked like it served the purpose of a stun, but with way more groove.
Other additions to the game include some of the new vehicles. Not shown was a UFO, which Boone described as an obvious requirement when dealing with aliens, and the other was a mech suit. The mech suit rained destruction down on a city block. It still retained the characteristic Saints Row attitude, as when clearing the area, while tallying the score, it was dancing and posing for the camera. Weapons will also be customizable, as we were shown a rocket launcher that could be moded to look like a guitar case or even a variant on the Nintendo Super Scope.
Overall, Saint’s Row IV looks to continue the insanity of Saints Row The Third, but with a logical premise. Jaros recounted how when the voice actors finished reading all their lines, after dialogue about aliens and super powers and mech suits, the actors would turn to him and say, “It all makes sense.” The arc of the protagonist, from thug to gang leader to celebrity to finally President has been a logical escalation for Volition. There is some early payoff for the fact that you are now leader of the free world (besides running around dressed like a hardcore Uncle Sam). All this escalation meant the bad guys had to be escalated too. With the introduction of the Zin, there are more enemy types in this game than in all prior Saints Row games combined.
Volition has two philosophies for development: “Fun trumps all,” and “Embrace the Crazy.” Saint’s Row IV certainly looks a ton of fun, and certainly looks very crazy. The game is scheduled for release this August on the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.