PAX East 2013: Previewing Saints Row IV

By Mark Delaney, 5 years ago
If you played any of the Saints Row series, you know the developers at Volition pride themselves on making things crazy fun as well as just simply crazy. If you've played each installment, you would also know that every new game set in the Saints Row universe has out-crazied its predecessor. Behind closed doors, an Associate Producer at Volition walked spectators through one of the first gameplay demos of Saints Row IV to arrive. Without a doubt, things have gotten even more absurd than ever before, which is probably music to the ears of Saints Row fans.


The developer opened the demonstration with Volition's two-step mantra behind designing Saints Row IV:

1. Fun trumps all
2. Embrace the crazy

Right away he decided to show us some new weapons. Your character, again customizable, is now the President of the United States and in the demo he was tricked out in an Uncle Sam costume. Highlighting new weapons, he first pulled out an Inflate-O-Gun. Running up to pedestrians, he fired at them with this new gun, causing their heads to expand like balloons, bigger and bigger, until, finally... *POP!*, their head would explode into bits of blood and guts. It was crude, gross, and hilarious. Basically, it was Saints Row. Then he pulled out another new weapon -- and this was my favorite part of the demo -- the Dubstep gun. As the POTUS fired into traffic and bystanders, bolts of lightning were propelled that made the popular wub-wub noise of dubstep music, constantly shifting its firing rate to go along with the song. I'm no fan of the musical genre, but to see this weapon in action had me laughing out loud.

If being the President wasn't ridiculous enough, the developer then revealed something else that we've already seen hints of: your superpowers. He stressed that, like everything in the series, they would be simple to grasp and use. First he took off with superspeed down streets and highways, plowing things out of his way as needed. Then he jumped high into the sky, leaping some buildings. Landing on a skyscraper, he jumped off from there too, revealing what looked like an alien invasion in the distance. At this point he glided down, almost flying, where he engaged some enemies. If you've played the Prototype series, these powers will seem familiar.

As he fired at police officers, they began shapeshifting into muscular, greyish aliens, which he revealed to be a central enemy in the game. Called the Zin, they are invading Earth for reasons he wouldn't go into. After disposing of these extraterrestrials, he showed us one of the new activities in SR4, "Mech Mayhem". Like the "Mayhem" side missions in previous games, you're tasked with causing as much destruction as you can in a given time limit, only this time you're in an enormous bipedal mech equipped with rockets and chain guns.

By the end of it all, I knew that this game would sound like a dream come true to fans who have embraced the crazy in years past and would further alienate those who may not like the over-the-top approach of the more recent Saints Row games. This is what Saints Row has become now, though, and the developers are proud of it. It's lowbrow, simple fun and there's nothing wrong with that, really. It won't appeal to everyone but for those who've enjoyed the increasing wackiness of each new game, Saints Row IV looks like it could be just what Dr. Genki ordered.
Mark Delaney
Written by Mark Delaney
Mark is a Boston native now living in Portland, Oregon. He's the Editorial Manager on TA, loves story-first games, and is one of three voices on the TA Playlist podcast. Outside of games he likes biking, sci-fi, the NFL, and spending time with his fiancée and son. He almost never writes in the third person.