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Saints Row 3 was really dumb (in the best way). Is Saints Row IV even dumber? Hands-On Preview!

Posted by Staff on Jul 23, 2013 11:19 (Jul 23, 2013 11:19)

Written by:
Saints Row IV Hands-On Preview:
Saint’s Row 3 really brought Volition’s open world series into the big-time. Always more bombastic and crass than GTA, SR3 ratcheted the stupid up to 11, and was all the better for it. Now, with "Saints Row IV" just a month away, we had chance to play about with a basically final build to see what idiocy the developers have added over the last couple of years.
It’s clear, straight away, that Volition have taken the knob that was already set to 11, and rotated it round just about as hard as they can. Within the first hour, you become president, Keith David is the Vice President, you save the world, which is then attacked by aliens, and then get beamed up into some Matrix meets The Truman Show false lifestyle you need to escape from.
We were also given the chance to see some of the late game open-world action, which mixes a hefty dose of Crackdown into the mix, giving the player a number of super powers, and the chance to upgrade them by finding hundreds of upgrades scattered around the rooftops of Steelport.
The action, activities and humour have all been refined, making this a big, stupid experience that still feels pretty refreshing, even only a couple of years after Saint’s Row 3.
Indeed, humour in games is pretty much acknowledged as the hardest thing to do – maybe it’s the facial expressions, or the delivery timing, but no-one has really pulled it off. Conker’s Bad Fur Day is pretty much the only game whose one-liners have had me break out with laughter. But the developers here have been really savvy and made more of the humour situational and slapstick- which I think is better suited to games, but still so few try.
Speaking to one of the producers over a beer and a hog roast later, he agreed that too few games try this approach, and seemed pretty glad that I got it, and the references, which come from many action and sci-fi films of the last 20 years.
We chatted for a good half an hour after the demo, and talked about everything from the game, to the financial woes of THQ and the studio’s worry they would collapse, to losing the Red Faction IP, which seemed to be viewed in two very different ways- one of great sadness the studio won’t get to make those games anymore, and another that they are excited to see where the games go and getting the chance to play them as fans rather than developers.
We also talked about how they would love to bring back Freespace, and that a new, top-secret project is being started up for next generation consoles and PCs. Unfortunately that was all I got – so whether it is a Saint’s Row 5 or a whole new IP (as Volition lost everything else in the THQ auction) I don’t know. But it was great to see guys who were just trying to make a game as fun as possible, rather than making it grey, drab and realistic.
And given the fact it seems like, as a retrospective, exactly what most developers have tried and failed to do this generation, I’m glad that these consoles will close out with what looks like 2 riotous, massive, colourful and explosive experiences in GTA and SRIV.
And judging by my 2 hours, SRIV is looking like quite some blowout.
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Saints Row IV
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