It’s a good year to like sandbox games. Grand Theft Auto is on the way, presenting it’s usual blend of stylised action and reality. But for some people, reality isn’t good enough. These are the folks that want to punch evil in the pickle and wield guns that fire off weaponised streams of Skrillex. For those folks, that game does exist. And it’s called Saints Row IV.
On the surface, not much has changed with Saints Row. The game still features a similar aesthetic feel, gunplay combat and navigation is largely unchanged and getting around town will feel instantly familiar to anyone that has played the last two games.
Where Saints Row IV really succeeds though, is in the fact that it happens to be one of the looniest games ever made. You’re the president now, and you’ve got some hard choices to make. Do you cure cancer, or do flick a phillibuster the ol’ gang sign and go pop a few cold beers with your pals at Camp David instead?
It’s good to be the king, or at least it would be if the entire planet hadn’t just been invaded by aliens that are hellbent on abducting the smartest and sexiest members of our species. And that’s where the game really kicked things up a notch. With the White House down for the count, players had to take matters into their own hands, by blasting away as much alien scum as possible, before jumping into a massive cannon and shooting down alien spaceships in a Space Invaders homage.
And it just gets even crazier, in a fight sequence where our lead character is more outmatched than that time a toddler managed to piss off Mike Tyson back in his angrier days.
Things take a turn for the worse, but that’s where that part of the demo ended. From there, we got to experience the new powers of Saints Row IV in a sandbox environment, and what can I say?
It’s pure Crackdown. From the way players leap around, to the power-up orbs dotted around the city waiting to be collected, it reeks of that fantastic sandbox from better days. And at the same time, it doesn’t.
What SR4 wisely does though, is add even more powers to the mix. Players can use telekinesis and elemental attacks, while engaging in super-speed to run circles around foes at the same time. And it feels so liberating.
Throw in a stack of weapons, and you’ve got a character who is on the cusp of godhood. But the game is still challenging, as the Xin alien race that has made Earth their new home is more than prepared to wear you down with troops in order to be rid of your kickass POTUS once and for all.
The gameplay works wonders, but my favourite part of the experience had to be that Dubstep gun. It’s so wonderfully ludicrous, as it belts out a never-ending stream of wah-wahs and brrbrrs, decimating anyone that falls within it’s rhythmic range.
Saints preserve me, I think I may be looking forward to Saints Row IV more than Grand Theft Auto V this year.