Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell Review – Love and Repetition (PS4)
The last time we got to play through Saints Row, we saved the world from terrorists and became president of the United States, only to have to defend Earth from aliens. From here we were placed in a computer simulation and given a number of super powers to take down an evil alien overlord. Now, in Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell, our personal protagonist and president gets dragged into hell after a game with a spirit board (think Ouija board) goes wrong, leaving his friends Johnny Gat and Kinzie to save him.
A Tale of Love and Repetition
Much like the previous titles in the series, this standalone expansion is all about being over the top and comical than it is about being a serious and refined experience. This is all the more exemplified by its story that takes place in a city populated with familiar faces and lost souls called New Hades. As Gat or Kinzie (or both in online c0-op) try to save The Boss from being forced to marry Satan’s daughter, they must get the attention of Satan himself and this means creating as much chaos as possible. But, instead of using the familiar linear story methodology, GOH uses an open story mechanic that lets players progress by doing either missions or by just causing random destruction and having fun with the number of random tasks in New Hades.
This concept is both its greatest asset, and its weakest link. As I found myself trying to balance my time between doing missions and running around the newly built city to hit the story milestones, only to find out that a significant portion of the game is just mini-games. Many of the missions throughout hell are about building your allegiances with various figures from history, such as hell’s DJ, Shakespeare. But, instead of partaking on a quest, he may just have you survive a wave of enemies or just try to reach a score goal. This won’t necessary be a bad thing for everyone, but as the variety in the game is derived from its sandbox style that lets you do what you want, it does feel overly repetitive and shallow.
All Out Warfare
Thankfully, GOH does make its predecessors proud by including a ton of items, tasks and interesting things to make this expansion worth its $19.99 price tag for fans of the series. When you think of Saints Row, you generally think of the crazy things it lets you do, and for me that has always been about the weapons. Out of all of the weapons I have been able to get my hands on, the most memorable items were some of The Seven Deadly Weapons, which are based off the biblical seven deadly sins. My favorite of the bunch had to be Sloth, or Armchair-a-geddon, a motorized recliner with Gatling guns and rockets that would fire when the foot rest was raised.
On top of the array of new assault rifles, shotguns and pistols that can be leveled up, GOH also gives players new abilities to help them dominate and traverse New Hades. Using Lucifer’s halo to gain powers, both Gat and Kinzie gain the ability to fly by using the wings of a fallen angel, as well as unlock the ability to turn enemies into stone, summon imps, create shock waves with a ground slam and more. Being able to fly and run around the city is a fantastic experience, but many of the animations and visuals still feel a bit dated and awkward, even if they did build a new city for this expansion for us to play around in.
Quantity Over Quality
This is something that has always been an issue that I have taken with the Saints Row series, as it always seems to cut a few too many corners and try and hide it under its laissez-faire attitude. Besides the fact that I still cannot get used to having to use L1 to run, many of the animations and models are simply forced to work together, causing weapons or items to disappear when you jump, making the experience feel all the more cheap. This is only amplified when you take into account its visuals, which looks like it has almost no lighting effects, causing everything to feel flat and empty.
While it is nice GOH that has a new city to play around in, most of it is just a normal city populated with ghouls, lava and a handful of cars, leaving it to also feel a bit uninspired. Some of the vehicle models and characters are interesting, such as hell’s cops driving a Big Foot type monster truck that shoots flames and the few and far in-between cut scenes involving the story, but overall most of the actual gameplay looks and feels rushed through to give as much content as possible.
Too Close to the Flames
Fans of the series that are just looking for an excuse to run around, cause mayhem and pick up collectibles will definitely find it here in spades, but anyone who saw the original trailers and were expecting a unique and quirky experience will feel a bit shortchanged. The story moments and collectibles were a great deal of fun to go through, but as interesting as the weapons and side-missions were, they do quickly lose their charm as you shoot at the same type of enemy for the thousandth time.
With that said, GOH is a fun rump through a new environment, but that is about as far as it goes. As interesting as the story is, the sacrifice of letting players do what every they want to progress puts too much attention on a city that can’t contend with what is currently available on Saints Row IV and creates a disjointed experience. But, as easy as it is to pick apart a game like Saints Row, the real reason people play it is for how much fun you can have with it, and despite its lackluster visuals and repetitious nature, GOH offers a great deal of content for its price tag.
So, if Saints Row‘s meta humor can get you through collecting your hundredth orb or doing the same type of mission on repeat, you may want to check out GOH. But, if not, I’d recommend staying away from this one, as it burns itself out a bit too quick.
Review code for Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell was provided by publisher for the PS4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.