Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell PC Review

Someone once told me that the good thing about growing up is that you discover yourself, a statement that was certainly true for the Saints Row series. What was once created as a Grand Theft Auto clone about belligerent gangsters as an exclusive Xbox 360 title grew into one of the most ridiculously open world games you can currently play. I don’t think there is a series that has changed so much yet kept within the same genre, growing each time to be sillier and more entertaining with each release.  There isn’t much left to do in the games after becoming the President of the United States of America and jumping into some Matrix inspired story to have super powers that in turn probably made Saints Row IV the best superhero game out there, but one thing it hasn’t done is jump into Hell.

Continuing on from the events of Saints Row IV, the Saints are on the Zin Ship flying through space while celebrating Kinzie’s birthday. All are in high spirits until the team decide to have a little fun with a Ouija board, turning a once enjoyable evening into a disastrous event when The President (and leader of the Saints, your character from Saints Row IV) is taken by Satan and trapped in his evil fort until the wedding is prepared for Satan’s daughter, Jezebel, and The President to become husband and wife. Saints’ local badass Jonny Gat doesn’t take kindly to this, so him and Kinzie jump through the portal and are whisked off to Hell to save their leader from demonic marriage. It’s a fun story that anyone who has played the previous game will enjoy ravelling in all the over the top comedy that this series has become known for; it’s just a shame that there isn’t much of it, most likely due to this being a standalone expansion costing £14.99 and lasting about four to seven hours, depending on how much side content you want to complete.

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Normally, each Saints Row game will have a set amount of story missions, with plenty of side content to jump into when wanting a rest from the game’s plot. Gat out of Hell isn’t set up like this, instead, you have a tiny amount of missions spread out on the map that are unique, but most of the time you will be moving the story forward by doing small activities for some of Hell’s inhabitants, such as Shakespeare, which adds to a metre that once full unlocks the last mission of the game. This design feels like the title had a budget restraint – when most of your content is activities from previous games with slight redesigns to incorporate the theme of Hell, then it shows a lack of creativity from a team that is often exceptional at coming up with brilliant mini games.

Gat out of Hell can be played in coop, with one person playing Gat and the other Kenzie. If playing on your own, then you can decide to play as either one by speaking to them in the home base of Dane Vogel, the once bright chairman of Ultor (the makers of Ultor Unlimited Sunglasses), who has now set shop up in New Hades and is offering a hand to the newly arrival. Both characters play the same, and even though players are no longer in the crazy virtual world of Saints Row IV, the powers in that game, such as wall running, stomping, telekinesis, are available thanks to the characters receiving Lucifer’s broken halo that leaks its power into the protagonists, giving them wings to glide across the map, running fast like Sonic the Hedgehog, and running on top of lava – which I’m sure is Gat demonstrating that he’s better than Jesus – and other such crazy fun abilities. The controls work just the same as in Saints Row IV, so they are mapped to the controller well, giving you easy access to all the powers.

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New Hades is a fresh map created for Gat out of Hell and is heavily based upon a city on lava. There are plenty of floating rocks in the sky and lava flowing over the sides. The colour is on the dark side, using a lot of brown to represent rust and death, as the limited amount of vehicles available are rusty cars or vans, and the only shiny vehicles are ones that the armies of hell drive around to hunt the player down.  It’s not a big map, so sights often repeat when flying around the city at full momentum. While there are a limited amount of vehicles to drive, the game ends up like Saints Row IV where you will only drive these when an activity requires you to, so the lack of variety in vehicles is nothing serious apart from seeing them duplicated all around the city. I guess only one car manufacturer makes vehicles in New Hades.

I would be lying if I didn’t say I was a little disappointed in this standalone expansion. I was expecting a snack version of Saints Row to be more tightly packed and focused, but in fact it’s almost the opposite. The lack of story missions means that your enjoyment of this game depends on how you deal with the game’s activities. If you didn’t enjoy fighting off waves of enemies, doing yourself body harm for fraud insurance, time trials or causing destruction in the previous games, then you’ll only be here for the quick round of comedy before it finishes. Sure, some new weapons and activities, such as the amusing frog grenade launcher,  the chain gun equipped chair or the checkpoint flying, add a twist of excitement, but these aren’t enough to put Gat out of Hell next to the mainline series. It’s just not as well built together, focusing too much on combining a game made up of mini game activities and collectables – including sometimes amusing audio books with a quick snippet of Gat/Kinzie talking about a topic – rather than the amazingly crafted and funny journey that I have come to expect from this franchise.

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You won’t find any improvements when it comes to graphics, as this is Saints Row IV with a different coating. It’s the same engine, which means you’ll need around the same hardware to run. It did seem that the game was more optimised than Saints Row IV, as the fluctuation in frame rate wasn’t as noticeable to what I experienced on the release day Saints Row IV. I did run into a strange issue where one of the cutscenes didn’t play correctly, instead, playing the intro again and then leaving the screen on a pool of lava until the game loaded the final fight. Apart from that issue, the game was a smooth experience. On the sound end, the voice acting is still brilliant, with the returning voice actors reprising their roles, but there seems to be a distinct lack of music in the game, which is bizarre when previous games have been so good at giving the player a selection of great tunes. It seems crazy that the developers missed the chance to use a certain Meat Loaf song.

Saints Row: Gat out of Hell supplies more Saints Row IV gameplay but in a new setting backed by an amusing, if short, story. It’s just a shame that its made up of a collection of side content that doesn’t offer the stupid creativity that made up so many moments in the last two Saints Row games. Anyone who enjoys the series will find things to enjoy in Saints Row: Gat out of Hell, but as long as you don’t go in expecting a long story backed by great mission design, you should get on just fine with this uninspired bite size, but familiar, addition to the Saints Row family.

6 out of 10