Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell

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Posted March 7, 2015 by in Xbox One
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Rating

Score
 
 
 
 
 

2/ 5

Overview

Platform:
 
Developer: Deep Silver Volition, Inc. High Voltage Software, Inc.
 
Publisher: Deep Silver
 
Release Date: 20th January 2015
 

After conquering an alien invasion and consequentially having their home planet destroyed in the process it’s hard to imagine where the puckish rogues known as The Saints could venture next

by Jordan King
Full Article
After conquering an alien invasion and consequentially having their home planet destroyed in the process it’s hard to imagine where the puckish rogues known as The Saints could venture next.

Their next adventure could have taken them time travelling anywhere in history or even into the expanses of space to any world imaginable. This would have provided endless possibilities for the developers to capitalise upon the goofy yet lovable mayhem the franchise’s reputation is built upon. Instead we are treated to a lightweight and generic journey into hell that fails to impress thanks to horrendously repetitious mission design and an inconsistent campaign that even Johnny Gat cannot save.

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Gat out of Hell doesn’t waste any time throwing you into the thick of things. After a brief opening narration bringing you up to speed regarding the events of the last game the president is kidnapped and dragged into the depths of hell, which has an uncanny resemblance to Steelport. The commander in chief is being forced into marrying the devil’s daughter. An adorably naive girl with a habit of breaking out into song in the story’s brief cutscenes. Being the ultimate badass that he is, Johnny Gat is quick to come to his rescue, with nerdy girl Kinzie in tow. From here you are tasked with recruiting famous undead figures such as William Shakespeare and Blackbeard the Pirate to your side. This is presumably in order to form a team that will be vital in defeating the devil in the final mission. Right? Nope, their inclusion makes for some humorous dialogue that plays effectively into our cliched perception of their characters however. Shakespeare for example only speaks in self referential rhyme whilst Blackbeard is found aboard a ship surrounded by a sea of encroaching lava. Beyond this though their missions are nothing more than padding for a campaign that is already criminally short. Lacking in any semblance of meaningful creativity that made its predecessors such a blast to play.

You can play as either Johnny Gat or Kinzie Kensington, both of which possess newly acquired angelic wings that allow you to soar across the environment to your heart’s content. This controls brilliantly, giving you free reign to pull off daring maneuvers as you aim to collect the hundred of upgrade clusters that are littered across the map. It’s disheartening that the landscape you explore with these powers is so flat and uninspired, providing absolutely nothing we haven’t seen before. The Saints Row series has never been a pioneer in the visual department, but the rendition of hell depicted here is frustratingly boring, and I never felt the need to explore as so much of it feels identical. The grey and barren streets are populated by mundane undead husks that you rarely encounter, as the use of vehicles is rendered pointless by the fact that flying is a much easier option, and certainly more enjoyable. This particular world feels more lifeless than I remember previous games being, with fewer vehicles populating the roads. Buildings you could once explore such as a shops and clothing outlets have been reduced to streetside vending machines, extracting more of the soul from a series that previously thrived on its gleeful nature.

Johnny Gat and Kinzie Kensington.

Johnny Gat and Kinzie Kensington.

Missions are, for the most part exactly what you experienced in Saints Row IV. New side activities creatively take advantage of your newfound powers though, encouraging you upgrade them and chase high scores. One particular activity has you swooping through the air with your angelic wings saving fallen souls from damnation, building up sequential combos to improve your score. Another new distraction has you activating tombstones within a pit swarming with enemies, claiming territory throughout the world map as you progress. Instances such as this quickly lead to frustration as respawning foes make activating certain objectives a chore. I soon found myself hurling obscenities at the screen as I failed time and time again. Even after all was said and the done the rewards for scraping through each and every side activity didn’t feel worth it. This is especially true when you acknowledge that so many of these side activities are lazily thrown into the main quest to artificially lengthen the storyline as it is.

The lack of cutscenes and traditional story-driven missions mean much of humour and personality that drove forward to otherwise repetitive gameplay of previous titles is absent. As a result this makes the technical flaws and often arduous repetition surrounding the gameplay all the more obvious. A number of technical problems arose during my playthrough and remained a persistent nuisance throughout. The most noticeable was the inconsistent framerate, which hovered below 20 frames per second whilst I flew about the city. Performance also took a dive during high octane combat scenarios, but not nearly as when my character was sprinting and flying around enemies and through the environment. This is an unusual anomaly considering this is a game running on an engine that performed perfectly well on last generation platforms.

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The majority of the campaign missions have you gaining loyalty of characters by repeating side missions over and over and over. The payoff for these missions isn’t reflected at all in the story, and feels like a complete waste of time. The potential for creativity when you combine a setting such as this with the wacky tendencies of the Saints Row series is incredible, but here it feels completely wasted. Instead of introducing new concepts that could have been creatively implemented into the campaign everything feels lazily recycled, thrown into a hollow playground with little to no substance. The cutscenes that hit the nail on the head are frequently hilarious though. A particular highlight features Johnny and the devil’s daughter singing passionately about how they could succeed in their mission, filled with the swears and ultra-violence you would expect from these characters. I almost fell of my chair when Johnny Gat marched up to the devil, shouting a triumphant “fuck you” before capping him in the face.

Saints Row IV: Gat out of Hell is a disappointing expansion that somehow fails to build upon or even acknowledge the qualities that made its predecessors so enjoyable. The lack of character customisation and sharp recognisable comedy that has become a staple of the series leaves you with an experience that feels hollow and monotonous at best. A tiresome mission structure and ludicrously short-lived and unimaginative campaign overshadow what could have been a uniquely quirky open world adventure. The franchise is beginning to show its age with cracks now clearly visible in the rehashed mechanics that each title hinges upon. A distinct lack of humour and substance has made this all the more clear. If we’re lucky the new generation just might have something more ambitious in store for The Third Street Saints.


About the Author

Jordan King
Jordan King