As the August 20th release date for Saints Row IV inches closer and closer, it’s hard not to look at any new media outside the context of the ever-growing GTA V juggernaut, and the seemingly inevitable conflict and comparisons which will arise from the pair’s shared launch window. With success comes expectations, and while GTA V is still the 800 pound car-jackin’ gorilla in the room, Saints Row the Third’s unexpected commercial, and perhaps more importantly critical, success amongst gamers has seemingly legitimized their competition to a degree. No longer just “the other GTA,” Saints Row has acquired real contender status, which is ironic because one glance at the new trailer and the six minutes of gameplay from PAX East embedded below make it clear that not only are GTA and Saints not in the same league, they don’t even seem to be playing the same sport anymore.
Alien invasions, freeze rays, Dubstep guns; for a series that has increasingly eschewed reality in favor of…well, basically everything else, Saints Row IV seems like the inevitable next step from parachuting out of transforming jets to battle zombie hordes with a giant purple dildo. Look at the trailer and gameplay demo below, and you’ll see that Volition and new publisher Deep Silver are clearly operating on a bigger, louder, more mentality with this latest entry. Unfortunately, these new videos also suggest that the most unfavorable comparison for Saints Row IV might not be to GTA, but to Saints Row the Third. As someone who sunk a lot of time into The Third on two different platforms, the one thing that struck me immediately was how similar this new game looks to its predecessor, right down to the combat and movement animations. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but in an era where franchises like Assassin’s Creed, Halo and Gears of War have all popularized the idea of the non-numbered midquel, the numbered sequel has taken on greater significance. Obviously Saints Row IV is bringing some fresh ideas, but will it be enough to set it apart? Can it possibly step outside the huge wang-shaped shadow cast by The Third? And perhaps most importantly, will you be able to play as a toilet? Man I hope so.
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