Saints Row 4 preview: all the president's superpowers

A preview of Saints Row 4 from a hands-off press demo given at PAX East 2013.

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I can pinpoint the exact moment during the hands-off presentation of Saints Row 4 that I felt utterly reassured. The prior game was an absolute gem, and I wanted to know that Volition hadn't lost that humorous spark. That point came when, speaking on the new alien enemies, the smattering of games press gathered at PAX East was told: "It's been fun coming up with a new enemy type that's capable of dealing with the president and all of his superpowers."

Because in the world of Saints Row, in which each game dares itself to top the last in terms of utter absurdity, of course the gang member turned leader turned celebrity then becomes the President of the United States. And of course the president has superpowers. Volition has somehow managed to turn this ridiculous premise into the culmination of the Boss' character arc.

In the case of Saints Row 4, these superpowers are granted by a prison gone wrong. The new alien enemies have captured the President and his (or her) cadre of Saints in a virtual world in order to wear down his will, but the Boss isn't so easily broken. He soon learns how to manipulate and twist the code of the virtual world to gain powers far above those in the real world. Though Volition remarked that the game is more realistic for the brief period you spend in the real world -- realistic in Saints Row terms, at least -- once you enter virtual reality the powers come quickly.

We were shown a fast-running ability, in which the Boss plowed through vehicles, which then parlayed nicely into a super-high leap to the top of a building. An ice ability could let you punch an iced car and watch it glide helplessly across the road. Others include super-strength and telekinesis, and stacking the powers together is encouraged.

Besides the powers, this conceit has also given Volition more freedom to try out new tools and game types that wouldn't make much sense in context of the real world. A mini-game called "Mech Suit Mayhem" lets you cause havoc as a bipedal robot, a step up from the similar tank game from SR3. New weapons include an inflator ray, which causes heads to pop like balloons, and a dubstep gun, which causes people to dance uncontrollably with its powerful wub-wubs. The superpowers are even exercised a bit in multiplayer, as a "Death Tag" mode grants a random power and lets players duke it out.

Saints Row 3 was supported with downloadable content, and Volition says it's already talking about how to continue that in Saints Row 4. The developer had a DLC roadmap laid out with THQ, and is now going through the process of sorting it with new publisher Deep Silver. It seems like a safe bet that we'll see at least some additional content for the game.

As for the lost pack, Enter the Dominatrix, Volition says it isn't entirely gone and forgotten. The company was working on Saints Row 4 and the Enter the Dominatrix expansion simultaneously, and said it would still like to produce a "Director's Cut" of the expansion sometime after Saints Row 4 is finished. It's hard to tell just how this would work, since both the game and expansion had a virtual prison as a major plot element. But Volition excels at one-upping itself, and doubling down on the gonzo school of game design should be a spectacle to watch, if nothing else.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 26, 2013 8:15 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Saints Row 4 preview: all the president's superpowers.

    A preview of Saints Row 4 from a hands-off press demo given at PAX East 2013.

    • reply
      March 26, 2013 8:20 AM

      reminds me of the hulk game that was pretty awesome

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      March 26, 2013 8:52 AM

      giggity!

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      March 26, 2013 9:07 AM

      So they took Saints Row and turned it into a sci-fi superhero game... Colour me disappointed.
      Not implying this won't be fun, I just feel it's a tremendous step into a weird direction for this series. It appears they ran out of wacky yet realistic ideas and decided to go full retard.

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        March 26, 2013 9:20 AM

        sr3 was anything but wacky realistic

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          March 26, 2013 11:57 AM

          Hitting people with purple dildos is realistic. Absurd, but realistic. Same goes for most vehicles in the game, heck, even most guns. The gangwar shit and all the drug escapades were ridiculously exaggerated, but still somewhat realistic. Yes, there were some quite outrageous things, but compared to this new superpower bs in SR4 they seem relatively tame.

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            March 26, 2013 12:03 PM

            i guess you didn't play any of the dlc. vtol bike, plane, zombies, etc were not realistic.

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            March 26, 2013 12:06 PM

            That reminds me, I need to upgrade my bullet and fall resistance. Thankfully I have my phone. Might as well order a zombie truck while I'm at it.

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              March 26, 2013 12:33 PM

              Yay, let's spell out a few examples of stuff not being realisitc. No shit, there were lots of unrealistic things to it, it's a goddamn game after all.

              Oh and I did play all the DLC, just fyi.

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                March 26, 2013 1:18 PM

                Okay, sure, sounds like fun. Like Halen said, the clone army of genetically altered, 80% torso, muscle men. Who are sub-contracted to a Japanese inspired deathmatch-maze game show.

                Also the cannonisity of the game mechanics provided by the perfect, gender flipping, voice altering, full body surgery Image as Designed surgery shops.

                The flying carrier. The also magically powered STAG weapons and vehicles. The zombie outbreak. The pixel tank. BURT FUCKING REYNALDS!

                That's not even touching any of the pre-order/DLC stuff.

                No offense, but sometimes it's fun to pile on. Plus it got me thinking about a super fun game.

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                  March 26, 2013 1:30 PM

                  the game was fun because it slowly introduced wackiness. it didn't seem weird as it kept topping itself as the story went on.

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                    March 26, 2013 2:13 PM

                    SR2 didn't seem too weird to start with, excluding a possible gender swap of the player character and that the most common thing you do after the first forced missions is spray real estate with sewage.

                    Three started already pretty stilted towards wacky, following SR2's rise. Yes, it continued to build over time, but it started off nutsballs and became crazywackadoodlebatshit.

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                      March 26, 2013 3:05 PM

                      but the implementation of the weirdness escalating with the story was great.

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            March 26, 2013 12:48 PM

            Yeah, those genetically altered huge mutant dudes were so realistic

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        March 26, 2013 9:22 AM

        One of my favourite things about this series is how it ups the absurdity with each entry! Each sequel feels like a parody of its predecessor, it's a hilarious model for a franchise.

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        March 26, 2013 9:36 AM

        I'm a little worried about the "Matrix"-ification of it also :(

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          March 26, 2013 9:48 AM

          Me too but they've earned my trust.


          Name another series that keeps getting better.

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            March 26, 2013 10:01 AM

            While SR3 was awesome, SR2 was better overall :)

            Don't get me wrong, I'm going to buy the shit out of SR4. I just thought the virtual reality part of SR3 was the weakest.

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              March 26, 2013 10:42 AM

              The virtual part of saints 3 sucked, but the rest of it was amazing and I thought better than 2. I love that they're embracing the lunacy. They've got my axe.

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              March 26, 2013 12:23 PM

              I thought the VR portion was one of the better story bits in 3. Game play wise I never had an issue with it either.

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          March 26, 2013 9:49 AM

          In Volition We Trust

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        March 26, 2013 12:16 PM

        It certainly is interesting. Perhaps they didn't fancy doing another 'Start at the bottom and work your way up' crime game?

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        March 26, 2013 3:12 PM

        This game looks amazing so far, but what I'm worried about is what they do next. A fresh coat of paint for the next consoles will do nicely, but are they going to try to one-up themselves every game? So what's the next logical step? Time travel? I could totally see the boss riding around on a purple Dino Rider T-Rex now that I think about it.

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      March 26, 2013 9:08 AM

      I would pay upwards of $90 for this game.

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      March 26, 2013 9:57 AM

      I'm in.

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      March 26, 2013 1:10 PM

      Holy shit that looks amazing. Insta-bought'd.

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      March 26, 2013 1:22 PM

      Hmm Saint's Row mixed with Crackdown. Looks good to me.

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      March 26, 2013 3:17 PM

      So happy.

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      March 26, 2013 3:35 PM

      I'm in!

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      March 26, 2013 3:37 PM

      Words cannot express my desire to own this product.

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