With great power... comes lots of guns.
During Monday's gauntlet of press conferences that kicked off E3 week, I felt some gun fatigue. Many of the games getting stage time were shooters that shared similar elements, and I just wanted to see something... different. Saints Row IV might have guns (and lots of them), but it's anything but more of the same. My half hour with Saints Row IV had me gleefully shooting aliens, running down vehicles, and setting pedestrians on fire-while trying to save the world from an alien invasion. You'd expect no less of the President of the United States, right?
My first mission in Saints Row IV was "The Saints Wing," the first part of the game after the player becomes President. As you might expect when a gang member is voted leader of the free world, the White House looks a little... different. There are people playing cards at casino tables, scantily-clad ladies sporting the Saints' signature purple, and some suspicious-looking substances being inhaled. As I made my way to a press conference, I was confronted with some important executive decisions. Should I cure cancer or wipe out world hunger? Should I hit some tool ranting about filibusters high or low? A leader's job is never done.
The press conference turned out to be short-lived, however, on account of a massive alien invasion. As the destructive Zin started beaming up familiar faces like Kinzie and Shaundi, I finally got a gun in my hands and started shooting down alien scum. Making my way through the White House and out onto the lawn, I traded a machine gun for a turret that shot down Zin ships lining up in the sky like something out of an old arcade game. Just when victory seemed close, the massive leader of the Zin picked a fight, which resulted in a button-prompt boss fight of sorts. The conclusion of the fight brought that chapter to a close.
Then I was transported to a section much later in the game, endowed with superpowers and given free run of the city. Instead of following a mission, I joyfully ran, jumped, and flew my way from bridges to buildings. Once you have superpowers, you can speed-run through cars, foes, and pedestrians, wreaking havoc as you tear through the streets. Climbing tall buildings is no problem-and the landscape was pretty tall. I enjoyed making my way to the top of some of the biggest structures, jumping off, and simply floating, enjoying the landscape and looking for glowing objects to collect. Plus, when that lost its novelty, I could always crash to the ground and set everyone around me on fire.
I had a full weapon roster in this section, and got to try out the notorious dubstep gun, a Super Soaker-esque rifle, and my personal favorite, the Black Hole launcher. It's so enjoyable to stand back, shoot a black hole, and watch it suck up every Zin (and completely innocent passerby) in the area, though it will also get you if you get too close. On top of guns, powers like the aforementioned fire can be used as weapons, bringing far more variety to the combat than Saints Row: The Third had. I would have gladly continued to abuse my powers-political and literal-but eventually I had to stop playing so someone else could give it a try.
Every game in the Saints Row series has been more over-the-top than the previous one, and it looks like Saints Row IV will proudly continue that tradition. It's refreshingly silly, incredibly funny, and most importantly, it's just so much fun. Saints Row IV may not take itself too seriously, but it's still a seriously good time, and I'm glad I don't have to wait much longer to continue my journey from alien-fighting politician to powered-up superhuman.
Saints Row IV will be out on August 20 for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.