Jul 3, 2013

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Saints Row IV Hands-On Preview

Saints Row IV Hands-On Preview

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Saints Row IV is insane. That’s the best way to describe the gameplay, the humor, the characters and the story. Nothing really makes sense, yet it seemingly works. I got a chance to get some hands-on time with the PC version of the game, and even though I wasn’t blown away by any single aspect, I did have a lot of fun exploring the open world and wreaking havoc.

Right away Saints Row IV doesn’t shy away from what it is and that’s a good thing. The dialogue between characters is clichéd and the story really doesn’t make much sense. The beginning of the demo has you going through a nuclear missile silo attempting to save the world, which eventually you do by climbing the missile and dismantling it as it’s flying through the air. Meanwhile, Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” plays in the background with your partners saying how much they’ll miss you. Definitely a cheap laugh, but it works for everyone who knows the reference.

As you fall from the missile, you land in the Oval Office right on the president’s desk, and from there you’re sent to the character creation screen. There are a lot of options available to you when creating your character. I ended up making my character skinny, with a long kung-fu like pony tail, and a green mustache with green lizard eyes. You could spend a long time creating your character and it’s nice that you have access to all options whether you’re male or female, for the cross-dressers out there.

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My favorite part of creating your character was being able to choose the taunts and the voice of your character, which featured some more references like: Westbound and Up, The Douglas, The Weekender. Most were pretty hilarious, but if you don’t get the reference, the taunts won’t be that appealing. For the voice, you only have a few options, but you can select Nolan North, which is just too awesome. Although his voice will always be associated with Drake, it actually worked really well with the dialogue in the first few scenes.

After all the character creation is done you can finally move on as the President of the United States and fight aliens. The overall storyline has you fighting off an alien invasion that started at the White House. You initially fight them off in the West Wing until you’re captured by the leader of the aliens, Zinyak. It’s already pretty strange taking out aliens in the West Wing as the President, then using a large turret to take out enemy ships, so as long as you don’t think too much about it the rest of the story should be a bit easier to swallow.

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The beginning fight sequences get you into the game pretty quickly, but seem a bit out of place leading up to the open-world aspect of the game. I don’t mind it all that much since it was still fun, but it just made the pacing of the game a bit odd, at least from the start.

Once captured, Zinyak sends you into this virtual reality where the city is recreated in a simulation. You start off in a Pleasantville version of Steelport, which you then escape by causing havoc. By killing civilians and cops, it goes against the pre-programmed simulation, which allows you to break the program and exit that simulation. This was the over-arching storyline in the game. Even when I eventually ended up in the open-world Steelport area, I was constantly trying to find ways out of the simulation.

Anyone who has played an open-world game in the past two console generations will immediately be familiar with Saints Row IV’s open world. It doesn’t pretend it’s anything new, but this open world is merely a playground for you to wreak havoc and utilize your super powers. That’s right, eventually after completing a few quests you end up with super power abilities like a freeze blast and super speed and jump. You utilize your abilities within this virtual-reality world you are stuck in to fight off aliens, complete quests, and hopefully to break out of the simulation.