Saints Row 4 achieves the impossible and becomes even sillier

Hollander Cooper

Saints Row 4 The 3rd Street Saints have gone through quite the transformation over the past decade. They started as a ragtag group of purple-clad thugs throwing pedestrians into traffic and spraying down Stilwater's streets with sewage, but before long the disorganized crime syndicate spread to take over the city of Steelport, and went on to become a pop culture phenomenon bigger than the Beatles, pogs, and Gangnam Style combined. In Saints Row IV , the Saints ascend to a level that even the most optimistic criminals couldn't hope to attain: leaders of the free world.

While putting an actual crook in office might seem like a perfect fit with all the behind-closed-doors deals, espionage, and backstabbing that takes place in Washington, the Saints aren't doing a great job of running the country. Their leader is facing high unemployment and a 20 percent approval rating when the game begins, and he must spend the first few sections dealing with politics that he isn't even remotely qualified to handle. Usually, he'd just shoot his problems, but that's not working this time around.

He saunters down the halls of the White House—which is now filled with purple banners and people passing around champagne—and makes presidential decisions. Should he cure cancer or solve world hunger? Should he punch a filibustering senator in the head or in the groin? Will he enjoy a Nyte Blade marathon at Camp David with friends or leave his bro hanging?

But deciding where he stands on these incredible important issues has to be put on hold. After the President is warned that aliens might be preparing to mount a massive invasion of earth, aliens mount a massive invasion of earth. The evil Zin blast right into the White House's press room (during a conference to explain why the President recently said that the pledge of allegiance should be modified to include a reference to how great he is). War is beginning.

The President is no pushover, so he takes the fight right to the aliens. After shooting through the hallways of the Executive Mansion with machine guns hidden in the Oval Office—while complaining about how no one listened to him when he said that there should be weapon caches every few feet in the building—the President finds himself manning a giant cannon that he had installed for just such an occasion. Epic music swells as he blasts invaders out of the sky, eventually taking down the lead ship. As it crashes he runs towards it and jumps inside, coming face to face with the alien warlord Zinyak himself. After a brief fight, the alien leader is victorious, but he doesn't kill the Commander in Chief.

Instead, Zinyak locks him away in a strange, virtual version of Steelport. It's here that the majority of Saints Row IV will take place, in what is essentially Saints Row's version of the Matrix. It's like a hyper-stylized version of the world from Saints Row The Third, which was already an exaggerated version of the real world, making SRIV's location one of the most warped, insane worlds in gaming's history.

But it's not all bad—a virtual world has the benefit of being able to ignore any rules that typically govern reality (not that Saints Row really worried about that in the past). Now things are even sillier, and the game's already ludicrous weapons are supplemented by ones that are crazier than anything the series has ever seen.

The Inflate-O-Ray does exactly what you would imagine it would, expanding anything its crosshairs until the target pops in a mist of red blood. And the Inflate-O-Ray seems pedestrian compared to the Dubstep gun, which fires flashes of powerful light and plays bass-heavy music that causes people to dance and cars to bounce. It literally shoots “wub wubs” and things explode. It's extraordinary.

The main character also has supernatural skills in virtual Steelport. Like The Matrix's Neo, he's capable of bending the laws of the digital world, allowing him to leap large distances, run at super speeds, and even glide through the air. This change alters the way missions work, as they allow the player (who is also the President, a ludicrous fact no one should ever forget) to charge into battles in fantastic style. Who needs a tank when you can just run so fast that touching a car sends it flying through the air? OK, yeah, you'll still want to get into tanks and blow stuff up, because it's fun, but... you know what I'm saying.

The powers also open the door for new side quests that take advantage of his new skills, but they weren't shown off just yet. Some things need to be held back for the game's launch later this year.

For the latest from E3, check out our complete coverage .

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