The Saints Row series is easily one of the craziest out there. Zaniest if you fancy using made up words to describe just how off the wall it all is. Dubstep guns, dildo bats, inflator pistols, Godzilla sized drinks cans reminiscent of that final scene in Ghostbusters and a lead character that can change sex at will and fall from a rocket only to become president, all to the tune of ‘I don't wanna miss a thing’ by Aerosmith.
So where exactly is there left to go? you've been all over earth and space, what next?
According to Volition and Deep Silver, the answer is simple. Offer up a small, stand alone expansion and release it on the same day as a next generation ‘HD’ remaster (although quite how you can consider an already HD game being re-released as anything other than a cash cow, is slightly beyond me. But thats a complaint for another day)
So let’s start with Gat out of Hell. The concept itself is decent enough and it starts off pretty well, with the Third Street Saints all relaxing with a nice game of annoy demons on a ‘Weeja Board’ before the president is dragged into hell and forced to marry Satans daughter, Jezebel.
Obviously the only option left is for Johnny Gat to point his gun at the Weeja board and force his way into hell, ready to fight tooth, nail and dildo to rescue the president. I mean seriously, what would you do?
The humour, as you would expect from the series, is pretty much spot on, not always hitting home but offering an enjoyable experience with a few chuckles and a couple of belly laughs along the way.
Before you tackle the big boss man himself, you’ll need to find aid in some of the worst creatures known to the nine circles of hell. You might be surprised who makes the list and where you’ll find them. William Shakespeare can be found cutting shapes and making sounds in a club that looks closer to something you’ll find in Shoreditch than hell but equally as scary. Vlad the Impaler is stuck in a pre-school, going through therapy that largely involves some painful lullabies.
While the cut scenes that introduce you to these memorable figures and future allies, offer up some good laughs and quite memorable surroundings, thats where it ends, as recruiting them involves nothing more than a disappointing task of clearing enemies out of the room.
It’s a shame then, that while the jokes are up to scratch, largely everything else is a huge let down.
The world of hell itself isn't scary or even half as imaginative as previous titles have worked towards, but instead as bland as you could imagine. It’s a fairly forgettable environment, made to look much like the city of Steel Port, with streams of lava dotted about and a dark sky. The only monuments to speak of such as scattered bones and Black Beards pirate ship, are so few it makes the hours you spend travelling seem quite unbearable at times. Often I was confused with where on the map I was.
Sadly, the visuals really aren't up to snuff on this release, which is a sad state of affairs in all honesty, suggesting that a next gen purchase of this stand alone content just really inst necessary as I struggled to see what this ‘next-gen’ release really offered in terms of visual prowess.
All these issues aside, you could probably forgive and forget if there wasn't such a huge deficit in story missions. The basic premise which never really changes is to just cause mayhem in order to aggravate Satan and hope he wants to fight afterwards. All of which feel like one long string of side quests that don't differ much from ‘kill a certain number of enemies’.
Sure, some of the tasks such as throw yourself into traffic and survive waves of enemies is something that you’ll have done in Saints Row IV but thats exactly why making them the core tasks of stand alone DLC just really doesn't work and feels quite lazy.
On the plus side, Gat out of Hell features a slew of new abilities that really perk up the proceedings. As you progress you’ll be able to summon your own demons, stomp the ground from the sky and turn enemies into stone.
Flying is great fun too, with Gat given a set of wings when he first arrives in Hell and while having them linked to the stamina bar is a bit of a pain, only ever allowing you to fly for short bursts, the feathered appendages are possibly the greatest part of Gat out of Hell.
You’ll no doubt most enjoy the missions that require you to flap those wings as you glide through the sky to disable shields, collect orbs and gain some height before stomping some demons clean into the ground.
Some of the new toys you’ll get your hands on are also enjoyable, from the Locust gun to the frog launcher and the much talked about comfy chair that just so happens to be equipped with a set of beefy mini-guns.
Overall, Gat out of Hell is a mixed bag of disappointment combined with some interesting ideas that have gone to waste. The lack of real story missions means this could have easily been a simple add on pack at half the price as apposed to a stand alone expansion.
Saints Row IV: Re-Elected is really where we get to the crux of the issue.
Saints Row IV was a great game, and if you’ve yet to play it, buying it for your next-gen console means it will come bundled with Gat out of Hell and this, of course, is a no brainer.
Sure, Just as with Gat out of Hell, the supposed visual upgrades just aren really noticeable which is somewhat of a disappointment, but again, if you've yet to play the game, then this can be forgiven as its just so crammed full of content. From crazy mission, amazing jokes and a purely genius soundtrack.
Overall, while Saints Row IV is still a great game, Gat out of Hell is hard to suggest as a standalone title and the Re-Elected package is only worth a look if you haven’t played the original release.
Here’s hoping Saints Row V is underway and ready to push things forward!