Best Laid Plans
Last night I had every intent of coming home and playing Elder Scrolls Online all night long. It felt like it had been ages since I had done so, and since I won’t likely be around tonight I thought it would be cool to play last night. My wife is coming back into town from her second conference and I have to pick her up this evening around 7ish when she gets into town. So that is going to minimize what time I have to do anything tonight. Last night I technically logged into Elder Scrolls Online, but only managed to play for about thirty minutes before my mind wandered elsewhere. To be honest the game looks even more beautiful than I remember it being, but I just was not in the right frame of mind to play it.
The pace of ESO is extremely slow compared to the games I have been playing lately, and I didn’t really want to force myself into playing it just for the sake of doing so. So I did a bit of crafting and queued up more research since I had long since completed what I was working on for all of the slots in Blacksmithing, Woodworking and Outfitting. I think mostly last night I was feeling overwhelmed by not remembering what the hell I was actually doing last time I had played the game. The last several times I had logged in, it was just to do some Cyrodil with the guild. As far as where I was in the actual completion of Auridon I had no real clue, and to make matters worse… apparently the recent patch broke every single mod I had installed. So more than anything, I didn’t feel like playing the game with the stock interface.
I have to admit, somehow I completely missed playing Saints Row 3. Now I have seen video of my friends doing completely batshit insane things… and have it on multiple platforms, but for whatever reason I never actually played it. I did however play Saints Row 2, and while I enjoyed myself it just felt like a “better” version of Grand Theft Auto 3. It was charming, but for all of the same reasons why I never really cared for GTA, it didn’t just inspire me to go out and play Saints Row: The Third when it came out. That said everything I have heard about the franchise has been amazing, so when Saints Row 4 went on an extreme sale yesterday I opted to pick it up and give it a shot. So while I was playing Elder Scrolls last night, my mind was wandering to giving this game a shot as I had it remotely install to my main gaming machine. That still is a great feature, I just wish that you could stay logged into steam on all of your computers and remote install to one or many.
For starters… where has this game been all my life, and why did I not do this sooner. Basically Saints Row 4 scratches so many itches all at once it is silly. Some of my favorite games are open world non-linear titles like the Elder Scrolls series, Fallout series, Just Cause 2 and this game is firmly in that wheelhouse. You play through a rather long intro sequence, but it is so silly that it is wildly entertaining to me. This sequence of events might somehow connect to the events at the end of Saints Row 3, but I have no real clue having not actually played it. Essentially through a series of illogical leaps… you end up the president of the united states. Then like a sequence out of Duke Nukem, these very familiar looking aliens invade the planet capturing all your friends from the previous game. All of this is just enough plot to set up for the fact that you become trapped in a matrix like simulation and have to work to escape it.
I Know Kung Fu
Remember the crazy shit that Neo did in the Matrix where he “pushed” off the ground to leap insanely high up into the air… well gratz we get to do that here. So on some level it feels a bit like running around City of Heroes at times as I have both Super Jump and Super Speed. The system is familiar to anyone who has played GTA, that the more mayhem you cause the more attention you get from the police… and in this case eventually the alien invaders. The escalation is pretty slow actually, but the it becomes extremely hard to “get away” long enough to let the system reset and for the police to stop chasing you. I reached a point last night where every few minutes there were more aliens arriving on the scene and eventually they called in this insane gunship that I just simply could not take down as I did not have access to a rocket launcher yet.
Another cornerstone of the series is the insane options to dress up your characters. While I did not purchase the above outfit… I came really close to doing so. The only thing I wish is that I had the ability to change outfits on the fly, but that might be in there that I just haven’t figured out. I seem to alternate between various steampunk and futuristic fusion looks. I am really thankful that overall the costumes seem to be really cheap. You tend to be rewarded several thousand “cache” each time you complete a mission, and I have yet to find a costume more than a few hundred. The ability to play “dress-up” definitely helps out with the enjoyment of the game. As is the ability to customize your base weapons to look insane. Right now I am wielding Deckard’s pistol from Blade Runner, the heavy bolter from Aliens, and a Thompson machine gun… all of which make me extremely happy.
So my Grand Theft Auto experience pretty much is limited to GTA 3, Vice City and San Andreas. But in all of those games a major detractor for me was that when you boosted a vehicle that it performed like crap. It was a struggle to get the vehicle to do what you want it to do. Saints Row 4 does an amazing job at making the different vehicles feel awesome. Above is a picture of me zipping through the city streets, and it feels like I am really hauling ass thanks to a really good use of motion blur. I was able to zip around the city at max speed and still be able to make my turns when I needed to. I also really like the variety of vehicles I have found so far. I’ve even hijacked a garbage truck and it was equally fun to control, albeit a bit more unwieldy to maneuver.
I think one of the problems I have had with the Grand Theft Auto universe is that increasingly it has seemed like a felony simulator. The game seems to favor a more realistic depiction of crime, while still maintaining a sense of gallows humor about it. This makes me feel like a complete and total asshole while playing the game, and generally speaking I feel like the characters I am playing have little to know redeeming human values. Saints Row goes in a completely different direction, making absolutely everything about the game over the top cartoony violence. So playing it makes me feel like I am watching a Tom and Jerry cartoon from my youth. This game goes one step further by telling you that you are just trapped in a simulation. So when you blow away a pedestrian… they were just polygons in a simulation right? The game lets me run amok without feeling horrible about it, and that works for me. At this point I have just scratched the surface of the game, but I can see this becoming something I play quite regularly for awhile.