I digress. My Nathan Drake-sounding leader finds himself waking up in a new Stillwater, one that’s more akin to Pleasantville than the grime and corruption we’ve seen in the past. The inhabitants are respectful, classy and, most shocking of all, don’t use vulgar language. Clearly, something isn’t right. Things go to hell fairly quickly once you realize that you’re stuck in a virtual representation of Stillwater and are being observed/tortured by Zinyak. Given that it is a program, there are ways to “glitch” the system. These come in the form of new powers. Super Sprint, Super Jump, Ice Blast are but a small taste of the superpowers that will become available to the character over time. The end result is a game that feels closer to Crackdown than Saints Row.
You’ll be leaping over buildings looking for “clusters”. Clusters act as skill points needed to purchase upgrades to current powers. For example, to increase super sprint to its max, you’ll need to collect the appropriate number of clusters. This is where one of the main connections to Crackdown comes in. For those of you that played the Xbox 360 title, do you remember jumping from rooftop to rooftop collecting endless agility orbs? It was hard to stop because you could always see the next green glow nearby. That’s the exact same feeling evoked by these blue clusters. Some can be simply walked through to collect while others are embedded in to the environment and require more forceful means to get out (try using your blast power). You’ll waste a fair amount of time gliding between clusters before you even realize how much time has passed. And it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Who doesn’t want to be even more powerful?
Just because you’re Superman-in-training doesn’t mean you can’t partake in old events. Insurance Fraud and UFO Mayhem (a Tank Mayhem variant) are among the returning side activities that will eat up your time. Although, it must be said that given our Saints’ new abilities, Insurance Fraud has become laughably easy. The Saints formula is still there, it’s just been injected with Super-Soldier Serum. It’s hard not to compare Saints Row IV to other super-powered titles on the market, such as Prototype, but Volition has kept the Saints spirit close to its core. It still sounds and acts like Saints Row, with its overconfidence and low brow humor, even if it has taken the craziness to whole new levels.
The preview showed the potential of this August release. Especially when it all wrapped up with a spaceship escape with What is Love by Haddaway by Haddaway playing in the background while my Saint rescuers instructed me to “do a barrel roll”. If you were a fan of Saints Row The Third, the next installment should be loony enough for you. This may be mostly due to the fact that everything that was in the third entry is back, including all of its DLC. But, hey, there are new treasures to find in returning stores like Let’s Pretend. You can dress up as Goku, Han Solo, Jango Fett and a star-spangled daredevil with an eagle head. Needless to say, the Saints are back and they’re bigger than ever.