Describing what PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) is to someone who has never been to a PAX can be a bit of a challenge. It’s a convention, sure, but it’s also a whole lot more than that. PAX has become a
bi tri-yearly pilgrimage for gamers and creatives, a utopia where they can go and be surrounded by other people similar to themselves… oh, and also play some video games.
I never expected to like Saints Row the Third as much as I did, but underneath its silly surface was an incredibly polished action experience drenched in creativity, mayhem, and fun. When we got word that Volition games was booking appointments for Saints Row 4 at this year’s PAX: East, I couldn’t wait to see what new trouble the Saints had gotten themselves into. Wow, I’m a fan of this franchise?
It should be noted that Saints Row 4 has an interesting tale of development. From what we’ve heard, Saints Row 4 started out as DLC for Saints Row 3 but was a bit too massive in both in concept and size to be constrained by current DLC limitations. On top of that, Volition’s publisher THQ was on the decline and was forced to sell off its IPs to the highest bidders. Koch Media (owner of Deep Silver) wound up purchasing the Saints Row franchise franchise for an impressive 22.3 million dollars, proving once and for all the value of a good dick joke.
We were ushered into a small room at the Westin during PAX: East to watch a short presentation on Saints Row IV that highlighted some of the game’s new features and impressive new super abilities. Unlike other publishers that simply press play and walk away, we were also joined by Volition’s Jim Boon (senior producer) and Scott Phillips (design director) who stuck around after the presentation to answer any and all questions thrown their way. Interaction was encouraged, and we appreciate that.
From the footage we were shown, Saints Row 4 appears to be just as idiotic (I say that with love) and fun as its predecessor, but with some incredible new additions. The leader of the Saints, now the President of the United States (naturally), will be abducted by aliens within the first few hours of the game. While alien abduction is normally a bad thing, it appears to have given Volition even more narrative freedom (is that possible?) by introducing alternate realities into the franchise. Steel Port proper will still be navigable, but from what we were told much of the game would take place in different, often darker, versions of the city. Much of the campaign will also revolve around the player freeing his/her homies from the clutches of their own virtual nightmares. Think of it like Saints Row meets the Matrix.
Throughout the campaign different super powers such as flight, telekinesis, freeze beams and more can be acquired and modified turning the leader of the Saints into an even bigger bad ass than ever before. While super powers were all the buzz, there will be a number of impressive new weapons introduced into the franchise including the wub-tastic “Dub Step Gun”, which forces groups of enemies to dance until they…drop. Weapons can now be visually modified to suit your character’s particular style, so if the player wants their rocket launcher to look like an unassuming guitar case, it can be done. Oh yeah, there will also be a giant mech suit complete with hover jets, rocket launchers, and Gatling guns for players to enjoy. We love mechs. .
When we asked about the returning voice cast, Jim Boone stated that most of the cast would in fact be returning, but with a few exceptions just to mix things up. No details on the soundtrack were ready to be revealed, but Volition seems to understand the power of a properly utilized licensed song.
While we didn’t see a whole lot of footage, what we did see made me feel confident that Saints Row 4 would be one hell of a giggle fueled joy ride. Can’t wait.