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In Saints Row 4, what's old is new again

Xav de Matos, @Xav

Memories of its time under the command of THQ linger while playing Saints Row 4. Featuring content that was once slated to launch as a premium DLC expansion for Saints Row: The Third, the latest game from Volition was transitioned to a full retail product by its former, financially unstable publisher.

THQ has since disappeared and publisher Deep Silver lords over the dildo waving, running into traffic, beautiful monster franchise known as Saints Row. But for the first time, a new Saints Row game hasn't seen a significant boost in terms of technology or mechanics. The game, on those levels, picks up exactly where it left off ... it's only crazier.

Though it borrows ideas from movies like The Matrix and games like Crackdown and Prototype to inject alternative worlds and superhuman abilities into the mix, Saints Row 4 feels like the DLC we didn't get that's wrapped, at least in the beginning, around a tired alien invasion story.

Gallery: Saints Row 4 (E3 2013) | 7 Photos

Our time with the game was short, so those feelings may dissipate once the entire experience is in our hands. The Saints Row 4 preview build moves quickly from the leader of the Third Street Saints saving America to running it as President. Soon after the alien Zin Empire, led by the soft-spoken Zinyak, invade the planet and capture POTUS. The demo ends as POTUS and his crew make their escape from Zin's otherworldly clutches.

Despite initial impressions, Saints Row 4 had me howling. As President, you're offered to choose one of two major issues to solve immediately, cure cancer or stop hunger – or as the game asks: "F**k cancer, or let them eat cake?" In a more subtle joke, the game lists Nolan North, by name, in the options menu under "Character Voice" alongside generic choices like Man and Woman one through three. And then there's the glorious dubstep gun. For more, watch the video preview above.

Saints Row 4 is still the same hilarious shit-show of anarchy that we've come to expect ... nay, demand.

Saints Row 4 launches for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on August 20.

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