OH MY GOD! CONTROVERSY! SAINTS ROW 4 SHOWN IN AUSTRALIA!
It may not be classified yet, it may have been edited, but Saints Row 4 is here at PAX and we got to play it. And I love it it. What we got to play was shown behind a big screened off wall and was being called “The Australian Edition”, so it’s probably just the same game, minus the stuff that made it refused classification. But it’s still mental, still balls to the wall fun and the superpower stuff? So much fun.
I was thrown into the digitised version of Steelport, infected by the alien menace. The demo gave us a chance to be the all powerful President of the United States, with all the powers unlocked and available to try out. Straight off the bat, I was running with incredible speed, smashing cars and pedestrians in my way, leaping over tall buildings with a single bound, gliding over the neon lit city, all just to land on the ground to continue running. When the first trailers were shown and we were introduced to the super powers, I know more than a few people who were turned off by the idea of being overly stronger and better than before, but after 15 minutes with it, you shouldn’t feel concerned. The superpowers feel fun, easy to use and make the game feel not like a padded out expansion.
After flying around and running fast, I thought I had to give some of the new weapons a try. Being in this virtual world, the potential that Volition has to make something more outlandish and crazy than ever and with what they had on offer, I feel like they’re delivering. On show was an energy sword (basically a lightsaber), a new burst rifle shaped like a freakin’ super soaker, a black hole gun and my favourite (and the new purple dildo of the game) the Dubstep gun. The energy sword is your basic melee weapon so not much can be said there. The burst rifle packed a punch for something that looked like a kids toy. That’s another thing you probably already know, you can customise guns and weapons in the game! It was funny, scrolling through the weapons and seeing that gun, I completely avoided it at first because it looked like a toy. Don’t make the same mistake I did. The best two weapons were the Black Hole Gun and the Dubstep Gun. What I really loved about these two were just how insane they were. Shooting a big black hole and seeing people clinging for dear life was a joy, a perverted joy sure, but a joy none the less.
The Dubstep Gun though. Oh man. I love it. I don’t know if I could get sick of this gun. So we’ve all seen it already, but basically it shoots beams of light, all coated in delicious dub. As the waves hit baddies, they fall to the ground and die, but the true joy of this gun is keeping the gun running and seeing people gyrate, dance and do the robot, having cars bounce around you. It just adds to the frentic action that is Saints Row.
I didn’t get a chance to do missions, I just enjoyed dicking around in the world. I was going to write about the superpowers, but I think Pants has some words to say about that.
My demo pointed me in a lot of different directions in the form of optional sidequests.
The first thing I did was a race – but it wasn’t in a car. Thanks to your crazy new superpowers, it’s actually sometimes faster to run than drive, and the ability to make stylish and huge jumps and scale walls means that verticality is no longer an issue. In fact, these races are better for it. It means they can start as a run through the streets and transition almost seamlessly into long jumps over buildings high in the sky. After stumbling with the intricacies of jumping (you can charge it, or chain them for higher jumps) for a bit, BLAGH
Professor Genki makes a return but fortunately it’s a bit different than a ‘wacky’ run through a shooting gallery. Now, the competition sees you scouring the streets looking for people, vehicles and disembodied Genki heads, and using your psychic superpowers to pick them up and throw them through floating coloured rings in a time limit. It’s a bit more involved than the activities of the past, and it includes running commentary from two faceless voices, praising your character and his actions. In terms of charm, it’s better than the previous Genki offering, and the fact that you’re running through the streets again makes it feel far less limiting.
The last activity I tried was something more akin to the Genki of old, with a twist: everyone has superpowers. I felt that this is where a bit of challenge came back into combat. Running around with a superpowered character always brings some problems. You just feel too invincible. And this was certainly true just running around the city for a while – I had cops after me and barely noticed while I was busy tackling people to the ground and trying off the brutal new finishing moves on ordinary civilians. But in the combat arena, where everyone has the same powers – or powers even better than yours – that feeling just fades away. It still does feel a bit generic – the room you actually fight in is a dull affair, for sure. But waves of enemies with different powers requires you to think on your feet, and the boss fight at the end (in my case, I fought Nyteblade), caps it all off.
Shiggy’s already covered free-roaming, but being thrown into a world with superpowers is just a delight. Your mind is filled with possibilities and questions: what can I do next? The answer is up to you. And I think the fact that Shiggy and I went in two different directions is fine proof of that.