With the E3 expo in full swing this week, news on Volition's "Saints Row IV" was a given.  And what we know now is making this game sound like a contender for "Game of the Year", at least in my book.

When I first saw the announcement trailer for "Saints Row IV", my first fear was that this would just be a rehash of "Saints Row The Third" given the similar setting and style.  Luckily, that couldn't be farther from the truth.  While is does share several points with its predecessor, "Saints Row IV" is going in a whole new direction.  In the years since the previous game, the leader of the 3rd Street Saints has now been elected President of the United States, a feat that is explained in the opening of the game, and his/her cabinet is filled with other members of the gang, including Shaundi, Pierce Washington, Kinzie Kensington, and Benjamin King (returning from the original "Saints Row", and voiced by Terry Crews who replaces the late Michael Clark Duncan).  After playing an initial level in the White House that includes the President deciding to either cure cancer or end world hunger and whether to hit a filibuster in the face or nads, the player's world is turned upside down when an alien race called the Zin invade and start abducting the Saints, including the player.  Now in a Matrix style simulation of Steelport, the player is tasked with learning superpowers and breaking out of his/her simulation and rescuing the rest of the Saints for their simulations.

The biggest addition, and the focus for players at E3, is the superpowers the player gathers while in the simulation.  Over the course of the game the player will learn powers like a super jump, speed running, gliding, running up walls, a power stomp, and even telekinesis.  Several staples from previous games return, such as Professor Genki and the Insurance Fraud mini game, both of which have a new twist with the inclusion of superpowers, but we will also be given new content in the form of customizing the look of weapons (turning your machine gun into a super-soaker or your RPG into a guitar case) as well as levels involving mech-suits.  Speaking of customization, did you spend hours fine tuning your character in "Saints Row The Third" just to make sure you got it just right?  Well, its been announced that you will be able to transfer over your created character to the new game.  But in the event you want to rebuild your character from the ground up, Volition has created an even more extensive create-a-character system with new options of tattoos, clothing, voice (accent and pitch), and even the length of the censor bar when your male character is nude.

I can't express just how excited I really am for this game.  "Saints Row The Third" is definitely in my Top 5 favorite game list, and everything I've seen so far makes me think this game could surpass the previous one.  I'm also very interested in seeing the return of Eliza Dushku and Keith David to the Saints Row series.  Dushku was the original voice of Shaundi in "Saints Row 2", with the voice and look of the character being redesigned in the following game.  And as you can see from the trailer, we actually get both versions of Shaundi this time around.  And Keith David, one of the greatest voices in Hollywood today, was the voice of Julius, the original leader of the Saints who betrays the player's character.  Now David returns to Saints Row, but this time as himself, the Vice President of the United States.

August 20th can't get here quick enough!