Saints Row: Gat out of Hell Review
Microsoft Xbox OneAlso available on Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3 and Sony PlayStation 4
The last time we spent some time with the criminally insane posse of Saints Row characters was August 2013, when Saints Row IV hit the then current generation of consoles (PS3 and Xbox 360) and did fantastically well. When we originally reviewed it, it was given a great score Saints Row IV and spent roughly four weeks at the top of the charts here in the UK. GTA on acid is one way of describing what Saints Row slowly became and Saints Row IV showed this off perfectly - creating a Matrix-style world where you are the president, under attack from an alien race and to top it all off you have multiple super powers pretty much removed the series from any sort of reality based adventure which it started life as (see Saints Row II). That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing at the time but it was tough to see just where the series would go from there as it had just gotten so bat shit crazy. So where to next for these bonkers characters?
Well, the answer to this conundrum, at least in the short term, is the standalone expansion pack (also bundled with the remastered Saints Row IV original) Gat out of Hell. For the first time you don’t play as the main boss, the president, but for this adventure you take control of Johnny Gat (naturally) or Kinsey (a purely cosmetic choice) and set off to hell, whizzing around grabbing loads of collectibles, enhancing superpowers, performing loyalty missions, tons of side activities all with the ultimate goal of punching Satan in the face. Starting out with a series of short cutscenes which include a Ouija board, lots of in-jokes, Satan’s daughter, even more in-jokes and the head of the Saints being sucked down into hell by Satan with a view to forcing him to marry his daughter, the scene is pretty much set for a new Saints Row adventure that is about as random as you can get.
The actual setup of the adventure, minute to minute, is odd for all the wrong reasons. The mission structure doesn’t include traditional story missions with side quests and activities as with all previous Saints Row outings. In this instance the activities are still there and on the face of it so are some story missions, alas the story missions are actually just sets of sequenced activities strung together and put forth as loyalty missions. Gain the loyalty of some of hell’s most colourful inhabitants and only then will you be able to take on Satan himself...and punch him in the face. As a result of this it consistently feels like it’s just a game with activities in, mixed together with a new world skin and a silly plot - the activities are even rehashes of ones we’ve seen before, like Hellblazin’, Torment Fraud, Mayhem and Salvation, all for the most part subtle twists on what has come before. After spending the first few hours thinking the story missions should be popping up soon, to your delight one does and boom, off you go to push on with this wacky tale. Unfortunately that enthusiasm soon turns to dismay as the reality sinks in that there is in fact just the one and once completed you’ve completed the campaign (for want of a better word).
Sure there are collectibles, an absolute ton of them in fact, and these of course increase your time with the game. Add to this the upgrade systems still present from Saints Row IV and the ridiculous weaponry with some new hellish tweaks is at times hilarious, but it doesn’t really detract from the fact that the game doesn’t really seem to have a set core, a spine if you will. As a result Gat out of Hell feels like you are just messing around in a random Saints Row world, moving from silly scenario to the next. None of this is helped by the fact that the game has had very little work done in the move to the new consoles, sure it runs a bit better and is marginally better looking but as a re-master it’s lacklustre, consistently looking out of place on the newer hardware. As a remaster, in amongst the flood of remasters we are seeing in this transition period to a new hardware generation, it is weak.
There are some positives to take from the experience. The introduction of flight is a welcome one, allowing your character to zip around the reasonably sized map with ease along with introducing some new flight based activities into the mix. The price point also seems about right given the amount of content on offer, and if you go for the Re-elected bundle which includes the original Saints Row IV then the value for money factor is increased ten fold, especially if you missed it on 360 or PS3.
As a package, if you missed the original release in 2013 then it’s most definitely worth picking up, otherwise the recommendation would be to just purchase the Gat out of Hell expansion - even then though only if you’ve nothing else to play and loved Saints Row IV.
The key problem with the expansion is that Saints Row has now become impossible to one up, even by its makers, due in no small part to the fact that it went off the scale bonkers in the main Saints Row IV adventure. Mix this in with the fact that the port is poor, bordering on shoddy, and you are left with a game that looks last gen, plays last gen and offers very little in the way of new content.