Saints Row IV: Re-Elected & Gat Out of Hell (PS4) - ReviewJoseph Trotter , posted on 04 February 2015 / 3,935 Views
Remember Saints Row 1 & 2? Slightly off-beat if utterly average gangster sandbox games. Entirely forgettable. Then came Saints Row III, which was... less forgettable (it is hard to forget fighting a tiger with a dildo), and Saints Row IV, a game that seared itself into the minds of those who played it. Saints Row IV was big, riotous, daft fun; limited, but a big improvement on what had come before. We gave it a 9.0.
That was 2013. 2015 sees the inaugural release of the series on the next generation PS4 and Xbox One with a re-serving of Saints Row IV, in the form of Re-Elected, and new stand-alone content called Gat Out of Hell. Gat Out of Hell is released as downloadable content on the PS3 and 360, but as the next-generation package involves both, so we shall review both. Think of it as good value per word.
Value is a double-edged sword. Two games in one package is great, but that depends on the quality of the two games. Saints Row IV is near enough exactly the same game as that which was released in 2013, except with a very slight brush up. Very, very slight. SRIV had many charms, but it can hardly have been said to have graphically excelled on older consoles, so on the PS4 - even with a minor graphical overhaul - Saints Row IV is no looker.
This wouldn’t be an issue were it not the major selling point of ‘upcycling’ a game onto a newer console. It can’t be to open it to a newer audience, considering the relative sales of the PS4 to the PS3 and their release times. If you have played Saints Row IV, then you are getting the same game; whether that appeals to you depends on your opinion of the game the first time around. If you haven't, then you are getting a decent open-world adventure that is already badly showing its age even after a year and a half.
Gat Out of Hell looks arguably worse than SRIV. Set in hell, where the President has been kidnapped by the devil, Gat is murky, dark and ugly with a repetitive, unfulfilling landscape. It is, however, an awful lot of fun for what it is.
Gat takes elements of IV – the humour, the extravagant gameplay - and attempts to place it in a fantastical environment. You pull jobs for Shakespeare and Vlad the Impaler, capture territory and fly the skies. It may be short-lived, and more akin to a collection of mini-games than anything else, but it certainly has its moments. Missions revolve around the time-honoured themes of fetch, race, and kill-every-wave (if they can really be called missions), but the most joy to be had from Gat is the exploration.
Hell may be overly dark, misty and uninteresting, but the transportation methods are plentiful and exhilarating. Driving is an option quickly forgotten when alternatives include super-speed running, roof defying jumps, and flight. The heroes, now embossed with wings, take to the skies in Gat’s most satisfying gameplay element. Flight is arguably more entertaining than most of the missions; it is a joy to just fly for flight's sake, and makes getting from A to B better than completing C. Combat is fast and loose in a similar way to SRIV; it is fun, but hardly engrossing. There are a variety of standard guns to use, along with a multitude of powers. Imps, force stomps, and projectiles can also be fired at enemies, adding some much needed variety.
The immature style may not suit all, but the Disney-styled sing-a-long interludes are comic moments that deserve a better platform. Gat is better than most DLC, and is representative of a new breed of DLC best done by InFamous: First Light, which attempts to offer smaller versions of the main game rather than tagged-on trinkets of over-priced material that should have been included in the original package.
To call Saints Row ‘Grand Theft Auto-lite’ would be lazy and inaccurate; as games, the only similarity they share is an open world and off-kilter humour. Such a description could be used with Skyrim, but no-one would accuse that of being GTA-esque. Saints Row has always been hurt by such a comparison, but that is almost irrelevant compared to the main criticism that should be levelled at this release, namely that neither game in this package is coherent enough as a whole to really satisfy or offer a genre-defining experience. Both are fun, at times riotous, but are let down by deep flaws and an inability to convince the player that there is a huge amount of substance behind the bravado. As a package it offers decent value for fans, but they may be the only ones who truly appreciate the effort.
This review is based on a retail copy of Saints Row IV: Re-Elected & Gat Out of Hell for the PS4, provided by the publisher.
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