Saints Row IV: Gat Out Of Hell
Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell can be two things. It can be an awesome stand alone expansion for Saints Row fans, or it can be an awesome “I need the full game” demo for others. Either way, the expansion does almost exactly what I expected, and it was worth checking out.
Gat Out of Hell focuses (mostly) on you guessed it, Johnny Gat which is one of the most liked characters in the game. He never has massive parts in the series, but he still makes you cheer every time he shows up. The game opens with The President being kidnapped by some portal sent from Hell in order to marry Satan’s daughter Jezebel. If you played Saints Row IV and saved your game, then your character will be ported over, which is awesome. Of course this then means the character needs to be saved, so Johnny and Kinzie decide to open the portal back up and go save them! Johnnies plan? To “shoot satan in the face!”
He says it in a way that makes you laugh every single time he says it, and the reason I love Saints Row begins. Throughout the game you will constantly be thrown quick one liners that will totally catch you off guard. It isn’t just what characters are saying, it is also random actions you come across and even jokes hidden throughout the city. They are done so well that you are constantly having fun and catching yourself giggling. One example is right at the beginning of the game Kinzie states “I think it’s laughing at us” and the camera pans over to the Ouija Board as it is going back and for on “H” and “A.” The jokes are just so random and so well intertwined into the game and I can’t get enough. Some are simplistic humor jokes, but the way they are implemented took some good writing. They even have a musical number that puts Disney to shame.
Yet, you probably will buy this game for the gameplay more than anything. When you finally get into the gameplay you will notice two new changes to the title. First you are in hell and it was built entirely from scratch. This means you are in a world of fire, crumbled buildings, and zombie like creatures roaming around. What makes it even cooler is that the world is part of the story, and it creates humor in itself. The ambulance for example is supposed to save people, but in hell it is going crazy, ramming people, and crashing into stuff before they explode. Billboards and other objects are designed to say you are being punished for being there.
The world is indeed smaller, and it feels a little less dynamic than SteelPort, but what makes up for it is the core gameplay. This is where you notice the second change to the game. You still get powers like Saints Row IV, but this time you get wings. This means instead of gliding in the air, you get more control to fly through the air. The game doesn’t skip a beat with it and, just like the core game, it created the perfect blend of controls and open world style. The world is built just for this, so high rises have holes and objects waiting for you to fly through. You spend a lot of time flying and picking up orbs so you will get a chance to fly through all of it, and it never gets boring. The wings provide more control by allowing you to do dynamic moves, tight turns, and having just enough assistance to make it fun yet challenging.
Gat Out of Hell takes a step back in the customization field though. You can’t change your looks, and all guns are handed to you. Even cars are rather lackluster and repeated, with no customization, but they are pretty much un-needed in this world. The good news is that the title makes up for the lack of customization by adding in a lot of unique perks and weapons. The 7 deadly sins each have a weapon to find and unlock, and those alone make it worth it. Each power from IV is slightly changed to match up with the new world. You can call in minions to help you out, you can stomp and pull in enemies, and you don’t set things on fire, but instead drain life. Missions/quests have been mostly imported from IV, but each one has a fine tuned twist to match up with Hell and the new storyline. Insurance Fraud is now Torment Fraud and the idea is to get hurt so badly that the demon is rushed back up out of hell, and it is even narrated for added humor. My personal favorite are the missions tweaked to match the new flying mechanics. These missions have you flying through really tight spaces and at high speeds and when you get the hang of it, these are super fun! The only bad news is that it seems that with a smaller world comes less missions, there is not nearly as many as past Saints Row titles. This makes me curious how I will find a way to stretch 20 hours for one of the trophies.
The only bad news is that this game is so full blown, but it is entirely restricted because it was meant to be a quick expansion to get us excited. The story has so many aspects that could have carried an entire full length game, but they are cut short. The missions are insanely fun, but it becomes a lot of side quests that add little to nothing to the story. The story itself has so many epic climatic moments, but a lot of it is in the cutscenes and unlike the core game you don’t really participate in it. I was waiting for all of this, but it just never happened. The truth is, this is a short expansion, and you need to remember that. So I guess “complaining” that I want more is actually…well… a good thing!
Granted there is one actual drawback to the title, which also happened to IV. It was made for last generation and it is clearly so with visuals. Granted frame rate and controls are way more fluent on next generation, but the visuals are simply held back. It is using the same engine as IV which means random texture pop or objects going through each other. Again the strong frame rate seems to make up for it though because you get good clean gameplay, making it super easy to fly around Hell waiting to shoot Satan in the face. If you are playing for visuals though then you don't know Saints Row. I love the series because having fun comes before anything else, and you get that here.