Saints Row 4 Hail to the Chief   Saints Row IV E3 2013 hands on preview

After the Third Street Saints drove off STAG and the intensely successful film Gangstas in Space, the leader of the gang has been somehow elected President of the United States.  Pimping the White House, the Saints have taken up all of the cabinet positions, and it shows as we open our demo.  With Presidential regalia we walk down the purple-flavored hallways, spotting folks playing card games, ladies in cop and devil outfits serving drinks, a stripper pole, and our Saints statue from the second game just around the corner from the Oval Office.

Heading to a press briefing we are approached by Keith David (playing himself in SR IV, though he also played Julius Little, the founder of the Saints in the first and second game) with two decree options – “Fuck Cancer” or “Cure World Hunger”.  Strolling further down the hall we get waylaid by some blustery asshole who plans to make our life hard through Congressional filibuster.  We get the option to “Punch a dickhead – The Low Road” or “Punch a dick in the head – The High Road”.  Blasting this prick in the prick we stroll down the rest of the hall to our conference as straight up West Wing music plays in the background.  Yea…it’s gonna be that kind of game.

During our press conference, an alien invasion occurs – we’ve been invaded by the Zin Empire.  Their leader Zinyak and his minions kidnap Kinzie and then the rest of the Saints.  To quote President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho from Idiocracy, “Shit gets all emotional” and it’s up to us to save the entire world.

Our demo jumps ahead quite a bit into the open-world game, granting us all of the super powers and weapons that would normally unlock gradually over the course of the game.  With literally no restrictions, the team at Volition turned us loose on Saints Row IV.

Over the course of the next 20 minutes I got to see some pretty epic and ridiculous stuff.  In Saints Row IV we’ve been transported into some sort of virtual world, literally unshackling us from any worldly limitations.  With an obvious nod to the first Crackdown title (and that is high praise indeed!) we’ve been granted incredible super-jump powers, the ability to sprint far faster than any vehicle, and even glide like a flying squirrel through the massive city of Steelport.

During my short hands-on time with the game I got to try out two new modes for the series – Professor Genki’s MOM, and “Blazin”.  In MOM (that’s Mind over Murder) you’ll seriously abuse the populous by throwing things through marked objective indicators.  What kind of things?  Well, vehicles go through the vehicle rings, giant Genki heads go through the head rings, and…well…people go through the people rings.  You’ll use murder and mayhem to earn medals and credits as well as XP for your bloody efforts.

The second new mission type, Blazin, puts that super-running (and your reflexes) to the test.  Running through green checkpoints, you’ll jump over fire and obstacles, gaining momentum with each successful point hit.  Like most checkpointed modes, this one will earn you goodies based on your final speed, as well as Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals.

As I think back to the Secret Service agent that I accidentally blasted in the back whose final words were “Tell my wife….I had another wife” I chuckle to myself that this game could be a hell of a lot of fun. Blasting enemies and their vehicles with the Dubstep gun and watching them start dancing as their vehicles hopped up and down in time with the music had Mike Dunn and I laughing until we had tears in our eyes.  With the addition of cooperative missions in the game, there is no doubt that it was an easy nod for a “Best Xbox 360 game of E3 2013” nomination.

Look for our continued coverage of the game as head towards the 8/20 release date on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.