Democracy and Dubstep were on display in Deep Silver's 2013 E3 private meeting room that was mocked up as the Oval Office drenched in Saint's purple. Lucky invitees were allowed access to this sanctum to get some of the first ever hands on time with the highly anticipated Saint's Row 4.
The franchise already known for pushing the boundaries for open-world crime titles just goes right ahead and pegs the needle, casting the player character not only as the boss of his gang AND the President of the United States, but the only person able to free the nation from enslavement by an alien race.
The demo starts out with the Boss breezing through the halls of his White House, decked out with more stripper poles and white tigers then even during the McKinley Administration, calmly making large-scale (player driven) decisions on policy and party politics with the help of the series’ returning cast of characters, plus veteran actor Keith David as himself.
Just as you are about to start a press conference, aliens attack (as they do). As the invaders start abducting your crew one by one, you head to the Oval Office to retrieve the First Assault Rifle. Running and gunning now feels natural to retuning players as waves of aliens fall. When its up to you to repel their aerial assault, you head for the North Lawn, calling up a star-spangled AA cannon where a typical turret shooting sequence segues into a subtle homage to the game Space Invaders. Sadly you are no match for the alien leader when he takes you on hand-to-hand and when the demo time-skips to later on the game you are in their Matrix-like Steelport simulation.
Here we could take the new powers and weapons out for a spin. Apart from the Crackdown/Infamous style wall-running and gliding mechanic, your 'super-powers' are augmented with a pull and push-with-force telekinesis, an area of effect fire blast and a freeze bolt. On the conventional (to use the term loosely) weapon side, there are two standouts: The black hole gun with creates a localized singularity that can pop enemies out of existence and the game's signature weapon: the Dubstep gun. When activated it starts and instant party where everything in the world, cars included, can't help but dance and fall victim to the gun's deadly rays. We spoke to Brandon Bray, Audio Designer for Saint's Row 4 about the bringing the Dubstep gun to life.
“When you shoot the gun, markers [in the audio file] triggers the VFX to trigger out of the weapon, so that's why we have everything in tempo. Those markers also trigger the cars bouncing up and down, the [pedestrians] dancing around and pausing and freezing with the music. We use those triggers to make the weapon and its effects worked together in the environment.”
Bray was very proud about this audio-based weapon making it into the game, “Its awesome, it’s something that seems so simple and as 'why hasn't anyone does this before?” It's fun to watch people play it and to have music be a really big gameplay item rather than just something that enhances the gameplay and the world.” When pressed about the gun's music itself, Bray revealed that it will have three tracks to go along with its three skins, the first/default was composed by the game's lead composer Malcolm Kirby Jr., the other two will be using unannounced licensed music.
Rocking and rolling through the last few moments of the demo, players were prodded to visit the latest iteration of the popular Professor Genki minigames, where players used their telekinesis to throw cars and civilians though hoops for points. Lightening the mood though were the usual Saint's Row commenting team, who were at least thankful to be awake and not trapped in pods filled with goo like the rest of humanity.