This Could Be Good

Saints Row IV

Hail To The Chief

A gangbanger-turned-superhero president in Saints Row IV? Why not?

By Ryan Smith • June 12, 2013

Preview events offer only brief glimpses at very big games. Who knows how any given game will pan out in its final form? The most we can say is This Could Be Good.

One of the cardinal rules of crafting a sequel to action movies or video games is to raise the stakes. The theory goes something like this: If an audience is already familiar with the setting and characters, boredom can set in unless you ratchet up the drama or find a way push the body count even higher.

Saints Row IV

Upping the ante is an idea that the Saints Row series pushes to the point of absurdity with each consecutive entry. Having ascended from a low level thug in the original to the leader of the Third Street Saints in the sequel, your gang in Saints Row: The Third becomes the center of a media empire, complete with their own action figures, movie deal, and energy drink. But then the question remains: How do you top the heights of Hollywood stardom?

The answer: Go the Ronald Reagan route. In Saints Row IV, your sociopathic gang boss has somehow been elected president of the United States, with predictable results. In the game’s opening, your advisors (more reminiscent of Tracey Jordan’s posse on 30 Rock than, say, Karl Rove) lament that you’ve alienated much of America, likely because you’re too busy trying to replace the word “God” in the Pledge Of Allegiance to say “One Country Under Me” and populating the White House with pet tigers.

Sometimes, however, all you need in politics is a crisis, and things begin to look up for your standing in the polls once aliens with Shakespeare-worthy British accents try to take over the earth. From there, your douche-in-chief transforms into a Grand Theft Auto version of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan character, firing missiles at alien spaceships while spouting one-liners like “You pissed off the wrong POTUS!”

But lest you think Saints Row IV has the good sense to stop there, your character inexplicably gains superpowers after an encounter with an alien—allowing you to sprint around the city at super speeds, leap dozens of feet into the air, and toss cars around like toys using telekinesis. Your Commander-In-Chief can also resort to an outrageous arsenal of weapons ranging from the good ol’ fashioned machine gun, glowing laser swords, to a singularity launcher that sucks everyone in its path into the depths of a mini-black hole.

Saints Row IV

There are points where the whole thing threatens to rip at the seams, exceeding the bounds of over-the-topness, but I also found it exhilarating to play a game so devoid of rules, whether it’s the law of gravity or standards of social decorum. Plus, there’s some sneaky political satire mixed in with the lowest of the lowbrow jokes that rely on four-letter words and poop humor. My favorite moment in my 30-minute demo was when a Southern-fried politician (who bore a resemblance to Kentucky senator Rand Paul) stepped out to threaten my president character with a filibuster. You’re offered two choices of interaction—punch him in the face or in the nuts. Thinking back to the old Saints Row when I could only commit violence against fellow gangbangers, this felt somehow like progress.

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82 Responses to “Hail To The Chief”

  1. Effigy_Power says:

    I am astounded by how excited I am for this. The game is crass, crude,
    incredibly unsophisticated and hasn’t really changed since SR2.
    said, it’s unspeakably fun. A lot of games lately have valued gravitas,
    plot or emotionality over the simple fun of blowing shit up, and that’s
    fine. There’s room for those games. But there has to be some mindless
    fun as well. SR3 delivered that, on the PC more than on the console I
    find (I hate shooting with joypads). The developers simply knew that
    people who play SR don’t need certain things we demand from other games.
    SR is about walking around as shiny blue giants wearing latex fetish
    outfits and firing chum at people to be eaten by sharks. The only way
    this game can improve is with more, and that’s what we’re getting.

    Aliens? Super-powers? Mechs? Dubstep Gun?
    Sign me the -bleep- up, I say. Wait… it’s Saints Row!
    Then sign me the fucking shit up!

    That said, I will most likely wait for it to release on PC.

    • HobbesMkii says:

      Grand Theft Auto has always known you were going to kill everyone in sight, but in GTAIV they stopped embracing that at some point you were going to drive recklessly and throw grenades out your windows for fun, rather than as part of a mission. Much of the humor and satire slipped quietly into the background (the radio stations, ads, and newspapers in Liberty City are brilliant). 

      So I’ve been very happy that Saint’s Row just embraced its players’ tendencies outright. It’s really outrageous cartoon violence, like the video-game equivalent of a free-form Itchy & Scratchy cartoon.

      • mizerock says:

        I think you’ve identified a big part of why I enjoyed SR2 so much more than GTAIV. SR3 was a lot of fun too, but I got stuck during the skydive mission [after wondering if it was even possible to die / lose in the previous missions, most which I played pretty sloppy but still got through].

      • Professor_Cuntburglar says:

         Honestly, I think that the  Saints Row games have better stories than GTA4, simply because the gameplay and the story actually make sense together. GTA4 always felt like you were watching a generic crime movie intercut with a Michael Bay action movie.

        Heck I wrote up a whole blog post about it:

        • TaumpyTearrs says:

          I approve just because you named your blog after Just Cause 2. Now if only I could have the awesomely terrible  Bolo Santoze voice actress read your blog to me.

        • Professor_Cuntburglar says:

           @TaumpyTearrs:disqus HELLO COM-RAID

          I AM BOLO

    • PaganPoet says:

      Leave it to me to bring it up, but I’ve always appreciated SR3 for allowing you to adjust the size of your male character’s crotch bulge just like you can adjust the size of the females’ boobs. It’s rude, childish, and perverted, but it’s for everyone!

      • Citric says:

        I’ve only played SR2, but it’s so weirdly progressive in its immaturity. My big fat bearded guy often went around in a flowery summer dress and gold high heels, but the Third Street Saints accepted him as their leader no matter what his fashion choices were.

        • PaganPoet says:

          If he can balance in stillettos with that gut, there’s no telling what else he is capable of.

        • 2StoryOuthouse says:

          I’m pretty sure I’ve said this in a previous post, but there isn’t a single other game in existence that would let me play as a sassy, overweight, frequently naked Latina senior citizen with bright orange hair and three-inch long sky blue fingernails.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          It’s like Second Life, just not for weirdos.

      • djsubversive says:

        The only acceptable Sex Appeal setting is 69.

        Anything else just isn’t juvenile enough for Saints Row.

      • Mike Wolf says:

        In SR3 I went around as a guy wearing a werewolf mask and paws, panties, and nothing else. And also beating people up with a giant purple dildo.

        Truly the high water mark of videogames-as-art.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      Dubstep Gun?  DUBSTEP GUN?!  D-d-d-d-d-dubST-ST-ST-STep Gu-BWAAAROOOOOOOOMP-n?!?!

      Seriously, that trailer looks incredible.  Naked super-president and Keith David taking on aliens?  Awesome.  Only thing missing are the tanks firing purple dildo missiles!

    • Professor_Cuntburglar says:

       I’ve never understood the defense of the COD games as just mindless stupid fun. Which is weird because they always seemed overly dark and depressing to me, which would be okay if they had any sort of artistic aspirations at all.

      Saints Row is how you do fun; big, colorful, funny, and over-the-top. Also surprisingly not racist or sexist.

    • Staggering Stew Bum says:

      crass, crude, incredibly unsophisticated but unspeakably fun

    • Sanford Abernethy says:

      Isn’t the PC Release on the same day as the console release? Steam says it unlocks on the 20th.

      Also the PC version is going to be even better because there are going to be mod tools. Volition is apparently turning a ton of documentation and some tools over to Idol Ninja, the Gentlemen of the Row guy, and he and his pals are working on modding toolkits for all three games released for PC.

  2. Merve says:

    “You’re offered two choices of interaction—punch him in the face or in the nuts.”

    Something I’d like to do to most politicians.

    • duwease says:

      I didn’t enjoy having to make the choice of getting punched in the face or the nuts when it came to the Mass Effect 3 ending, but with the tables turned, I think I could enjoy this.

      • Halloween_Jack says:

        If ME3 had given us the option of clobbering The Illusive Man inna nertz in the end, all other sins would have been forgiven.

  3. ChicaneryTheYounger says:

    Look, can we drop the Leader of the Free World title for the US President? There are other free countries that aren’t America. It’s Americocentricism at its worst.

    • George_Liquor says:


    • Citric says:

      America is also more Free-to-play than free, everything seems free but then you quickly notice that lots of stuff like health upgrades and stuff come with a big fee attached.


      • ChicaneryTheYounger says:

        Hey, we aren’t the ones with racist assholes in charge trying to stop healthcare from being available to everyone.


    • HobbesMkii says:

      In Borgen (a Danish TV show), one of the characters refers to the US President as “the leader of the free world” (if the subtitles are to be believed). 

      I think it was less born out of Americocentrism than it was the Cold War ideology of First World/Second World (and the only lingering phrase: Third World). With the US the only country with a military not in tatters after WWII, it was NATO’s de facto leader (and still is, by and large), so the President became the leader of the “free” (i.e. not Soviet) world.

      But yes, we’re not the only free country. In fact, by most indices, we’re not even the world leader in freedom.

    • aklab says:

      Hey, at least it’s admitting that places other than Murka exist. Progress!

    • His_Space_Holiness says:

      Not that I necessarily disagree, but isn’t it Americocentrism at its least worst? I mean, it’s not good, but no one gets killed.

    • Girard says:

      Don’t make me take your freedom away, you furriner.

  4. Fluka says:

    “That’s not a plan!  That’s a goal!”

    Also, Keith David as Keith David!

    I…enjoyed that trailer way more than I probably should.

    • Roswulf says:

       I enjoyed this trailer so much that Saints Row III has finally moved from “consider buying every time its on sale, but then ultimately look at my Steam backlog and pass” to “wait for a sale then BUY, BUY, BUY!”

      Oh the power of well-paced silliness.

      • djsubversive says:

        I’ve said this before, but Saints Row The Third is pretty much Distilled Fun in video-game form. Just crazy over-the-top not taking itself seriously AT ALL pure juvenile fun.

        And IV is looking like a worthy successor to that.

  5. Citric says:

    I am glad that someone has decided to outdo Metal Wolf Chaos on the crazy US president scale.

  6. Cloks says:

    I could say something eloquent about why these games are so great but really, I just like cruising around in co-op mode and hitting people with a giant dildo.

  7. ChicaneryTheYounger says:

    Now I want to play SR3 again. Anyone up for co-op?

  8. HobbesMkii says:

    Unrelated to this, but just because there wasn’t really a general purpose post today, this article at Slate compares launch prices for the major consoles since the Atari 2600 by inflation in order to suggest that the Bone isn’t that expensive, if you think about it.

    Unfortunately, the other take away is that the PS4 is a real bargain, if you think about it.

    • Chalkdust says:

      It’s still 4th most-expensive in the list, though, which is still
      pretty high.  I wish they’d included some of the more notorious
      failures, such as the 3DO and CD-i, which were also untenably expensive
      at launch.

      • HobbesMkii says:

        I really like Slate and The Atlantic for the way their graphs frequently show the exact opposite of what their headlines say.

        • O Superman says:

          What a bad graph – why would you not order by the 2013 price? I guess just to obscure the fact that the XBone is still pretty high up there.

    • George_Liquor says:

      Factor in the added cost of the PS4 Eye, and the price gap closes considerably. 

      • Chalkdust says:

        Except who cares about the PS Eye.  Best for it to remain a peripheral device, and not an annoying requirement for the console to even be usable.

        • George_Liquor says:

          Oh I agree, and I think MS should offer a cheaper bundle, sans-Kinect. I’m just saying that  there’s a legitimate reason why the Bone costs more than the PS$ right now; it’s not quite an apples-to-apples comparison. 

        • George_Liquor says:

          Hmm, I wonder (aloud and to nobody in particular) if the Xbox 1 can operate dis-Kinected, as it were. Can its interface be  manipulated with the controller alone, or does the user always have to waggle his arms around like an Popeye cartoon character when he wants to get its attention?

        • Chalkdust says:

           @George_Liquor:disqus At least as of a few weeks ago, the answer was no, you cannot ‘dis-Kinect’ it (I like that phrase).

          “Kinect does require to be connected to Xbox One in all cases, yes,” Microsoft’s Harvey Eagle told press.

    • NakedSnake says:

      Holy crap! We’ve seen 35% inflation since the PS2 was released? I guess I will be well-situated to give some “in my day… value of a dollar… batteries cost too much” speeches to my kids some day after all.

  9. Enkidum says:

    I just got SR3, should I be playing through 1 & 2 first? I mean, I know the basics of the story of both, but they sound kind of fun.

    • Chalkdust says:

      I never played the first one, but the second one is a lot of fun and has one of my favorite mini-games in anything ever.  Insurance Fraud!

      As a pedestrian, you have to run into oncoming traffic and rack up dollars-worth of personal and property damage, causing huge traffic pile-ups and getting flung absurd distances in full ragdoll mode.  Kind of like the crashing mini-game in Burnout, but moreso.

      • ChicaneryTheYounger says:

         SR3 has this as well!

        • Chalkdust says:

           Oh yeah!  Why do I remember it more specifically as an SR2 thing?  My brain is like a sieve sometimes (lots of the time).  Maybe I just wanted more opportunities to do it in SR3.

    • Merve says:

      The details of the story are completely unimportant, but I think SR2 is a better game than SR3, for whatever that’s worth.

    • Professor_Cuntburglar says:

       SR2 is one of those games that feels like it was kinda lazily designed, but in a good way, so that there are very few restrictions on stuff you can do. Honestly it’s worth it just for the cheats alone (low gravity + invulnerability + gas station explosion = fun times).

      Also you can drive 18 wheelers, a feature sorely lacking in most sandbox games these days.

    • dreadguacamole says:

      Skip one – it’s a pretty terrible GTA clone. I didn’t like what little I played of two too much, but that’s definitely when the series embraced its over-the-top-ness, and most people like it well enough.
       Beware the PC port, though – not sure if they’ve fixed it yet, but it was almost unplayable at launch. I keep meaning to revisit it.

      • Merve says:

        In its current state, the SR2 PC version is probably less buggy than the SR3 one, but its controls are definitely clunkier. SR3 is probably the buggiest game that I’ve played to completion.

      • Sanford Abernethy says:

         It’s a lot more playable with Gentlemen of the Row slapped on.

  10. NakedSnake says:

    Totally random question, but I was wondering what ads you all get on the Gameological sidebar. I get “give your dad bacon for father’s day”, the clorox “ick-tionary”, and “check out budweiser’s new bowtie shaped can!”

    • NakedSnake says:

      I ask because they seem fairly well targeted to me, but maybe that is just because I am a male aged 18 – 34. All except for the bowtie can. I love Budweiser, but that makes me want to drink less Budweiser. Do people with bowties drink Budweiser? Or is Budweiser now an “aspirational” product, having left the Coors Light and MGDs of its class behind? The mind boggles.

      • Jer Link says:

        I’ve gotten the same three, so I don’t know how targeted they are. Especially since I never look at anything having to do with cleaning or meat products online.

        • NakedSnake says:

          But you do plenty of bowtie-beer research, right? I guess the conclusion to draw, following on @ChicaneryTheYounger:disqus ‘s post below, is that the ads are regional, but not customized.

    • ChicaneryTheYounger says:

       Ad-blocked because I keep getting ads in Polish with nudey ladies on them.

    • WarrenPeace says:

      I’ve got an ad for Techweek Chicago (I live in the Chicago suburbs) and a Fertility clinic seeking egg donors (I do have kids, but am not a woman).

      • NakedSnake says:

        As long as they’re fertile, they won’t ask any questions where you got the eggs from.

  11. Chalkdust says:

    Edit: Whoops! This shouldn’t exist.

  12. Simon Jones says:

    I really liked SR2 and was actually kind of disappointed in SR3, partially because it somehow had less customisation of your dude, partially because it ditched the old ‘Now this gang and now this gang and now this gang’ structure.

    But mostly, it irritated me because it was like there was a guy sitting next to me, nudging me in the ribs and going ‘HERE COME DA JOKES! ISN’T THIS WHACKY!’

    In SR2, it was funny because I wore a hot dog outfit to the funeral.

    In SR3, there’d be a mission about wearing a hot dog outfit to a funeral and the other characters would go ‘Look at him, wearing that hot dog outfit to a funeral’

  13. DrFlimFlam says:

    I need to play SR3 at some point. Make it free, Xbox Live, unlike all the games I already own you’re giving away!

  14. Toparaman says:

    This sounds wonderfully absurd.  I may have to finally jump into this series.

  15. Put on the glasses Mister Vice-President Keith David!

    *ten minute long fight scene*

  16. JamesJournal says:

    Dissenting Opinion: Even something meant to be completely absurd has to have a point or some sense of legit emotional stakes. I loved Far Cry 3 : Blood Dragon unconditionally, but I’ve never been able to withstand a Saints Row game for more than an hour.

    I guess I can see why people would enjoy the sheer “let’s **** stuff up” nature of this game over Rockstar’s output (although with GTA4/RDR/LA Noire all in my top games of the generation list I’m am absolutely not one of those people) but for that there used to be games like Destory All Humans or Incredible Hulk Ultimate Destruction which better contextualized the mayhem.

    I feel like Volition would be better served (As Yahtzee once said back in the day) making a game where you something like a Batman villain.

    • Sanford Abernethy says:

       Saints Row 3 had context, and emotions, and stuff. It was just all torn out by orders of THQ because they thought survivor’s guilt, spiraling drug use and the gruesome onscreen deaths of fan favourite characters to domestic terrorism were too “dark” for a game with all the wacky stuff too.

      That’s why the Bridge Collapse sequence makes no sense. It was supposed to be a dirty bombing that would’ve killed off Saints Row 2 characters like Laura, Legal Lee, and Mr. Wong. This, along with Gat’s death, was supposed to put a lot more weight behind what’s going on.

      • JamesJournal says:

        I never made it that far. I also had an even harder time getting into the madness that was SR3, and just when I thought it couldn’t possibly get more insane this game has the Saints in the White House fighting aliens?

  17. JimTreacher says:


  18. 1. Saints Row The Third will be free for Playstation Plus members this month.

    2. Judging from the trailer, I hope the game didn’t take away the create a player option.