sr top Merica!  We go in deep with Saints Row IV

Obviously the glitz, glamor, and (if you saw how tired I looked in my E3 interview with the team) the parties of E3 when combined with a hyper-compressed schedule, impact the ability to dig deep into a game and figure out whether it’s really gonna deliver on the promise.  Our limited time with Saints Row IV netted the Volition-built title with a Best Xbox 360 title of E3 2013 nomination, but now I’ve had the chance to take it for a spin from the comfort of my own couch. We aren’t that far from the August 20th release date, but to kick off this Independence Day holiday correctly, let’s take a look at the very Presidential Saints Row IV.

The demo kicks off prior to the E3 demo that we played through.  Our character starts wearing armor that covers his/her face…much like the face-covering Johnny Gat mask from the first mission of Saints Row The Third on a suicide mission to stop a gang of Arabic terrorists.   After choppering into the area, we drop into the underground bunker and find that this group is being led by our old friend Cyrus Temple – the leader of the Special Tactical Anti-Gang Unit, aka STAG.  It’s at this point that things get ridiculous.  Engaging in hand-to-hand with Cyrus, he gets the better of us, unleashing a nuke on Washington!  Not content to let our fellow Americans die, we leap onto the rocket, disabling it and saving the day.

At this point we jump in with the annotated E3 walkthru that we’ve got below.

Our character (now defined by the incredibly robust creation system) has become the Commander-in-Chief.  During a press conference the “White Crib” has been attacked – we’ve been invaded by the Zin Empire.  Their leader Zinyak and his minions kidnap Kinzie, and 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.  Despite our best efforts, Zinyak makes light work of our fragile human form, imprisoning us.  Cast into a simulation (a Leave it to Beaver poodle skirt world, complete with laugh track), the leader of the Zin intends to use this method to crush our rebellious will.  When we finally regain our own free will, Zinyak takes it to the next level, casting us back into a virtual Steelport that he has oppressed and crushed with his minions.

Much like our E3 demo, this portion of our hands-on time gave us access to incredible super powers.  Given a little more time than our E3 run I found myself in very familiar territory – the game very quickly turned into a vastly expanded version of Crackdown.  If you remember how much I couldn’t shut up about that game, you’ll understand just how high of praise that is. With the ability to super-jump, run faster than any vehicle, and glide once airborne, I was able to zip from place to place to try out some of the new experiences that this game had to offer.

The first mode I got to play was the return of Professor Genki.  In Professor Genki’s 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.

The next item was UFO Mayhem.  This mission is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – boarding an alien fighter, you have to cause a certain dollar amount worth of damage, just like Mayhem from Saints Row The Third.  Unlike the previous game, you can transform this ship into a fast attack craft, or strafe and use your blasters and missiles to wreak havoc.   It puts a new twist on the old mode.

Speaking of the older modes, Mayhem in its original form still exists, as does Insurance Fraud, but your ability to run at hyper speed before flinging yourself into various objects amps up both the dollar amounts and the hilarity.

Again, with a nod to Crackdown, we have a new mode that is as self-explanatory as the name.  In Climb a Tower, you’ll use your super-jump skills to leap from platform to platform, ultimately ending far above the city.  This journey usually nets you some serious fragments towards your super skills, as well as a high vantage point to survey your next bit of fun.

While I didn’t get a chance to try it for myself, there is a cooperative mode to be had this time around.  Death Tag pops up as an opportunity to fight your friends.  When the game releases in August, it’ll be a good chance to club down your friends with your newfound superpowers.

With five more super powers, a full cooperative campaign, and a great deal of upgrades yet unrevealed, Saints Row IV looks to bring us back to the world of Steelport in a way that never takes itself too seriously.  If this two hour extended demo with the game is any indication, Saints Row IV should be pure fun when it releases this August.

Now, to close things out…let’s hear from the leader of the free world in this special message from the President of the White Crib. Enjoy your Independence Day!