Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Saints Row 4: Making The Player Feel Powerful

Sorry for the lateness of this post. I had meant to put up a notice that it'd be late or no post at all, but work was busier than normal yesterday and I was distracted with a pulled back muscle that is still causing annoyance. Also, the real reason for the delay is that a game I've been excited about for months - Saints Row 4 - came out yesterday.

Now, whether you like open world games, or the Saints Row series, or not I have to give the developers credit for doing some things different. If nothing else, it is interesting to see a game where the main character is just as much of a sociopath as the player will make them act. You don't have someone who is supposed to be a cop kicking grandma into orbit. Nor do you have a cutscene where your protagonist complains that they came to America to get away from the violence followed up by you driving through a mall full of people because it is quicker. No, in Saints Row the boss - and most of his friends - are just as crazy as you are making them act and everyone else normally gets a somewhat stunned expression on their face because of it. In other words, Saints Row is a game that plays out a lot like how I'd expect a table top RPG with similar ideas would play out. The PCs do crazy outlandish things, and everyone else has to figure out how they did that or why they would try it.

Onwards to Saints Row 4 though. One of the things i love about this game - aside from the humor - is how powerful it lets you feel right from the beginning. There isn't much ramping up time. The boss has been established as a bad ass in the previous 3 games, and so right from the get go you get established as a very dangerous, violent, and deadly character. This happens in cut scenes and in gameplay. The characters also react to it very well, including the NPCs and enemies.

I don't want to ruin anything for the game, but if you want to see some good examples of how to make a player feel like they're on the upper echelons of the power curve you could do worse than giving the first few hours of Saints Row 4 a try.

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