Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell: Short and Bloody

5 Feb

The stand-alone expansion to Saints Row IV, Gat Out of Hell embodies everything that I have come to love about the franchise from Volition, Inc. With old friends returning to join the fight, or get really dead, I was addicted to every second of the disappointingly short addition.

After defeating the evil Zinyak in Saints Row IV, the Saints and their President have commandeered a space ship since Earth is, you know, exploded. There they prepare a birthday party for Kinzie Kensington, hacker extraordinaire and Saints Lieutenant. Matt Miller, former rival gang member, finds the Ouija board owned by none other Alistair Crowley and convinces the other Saints to use the board with him. Unfortunately for the President (and fortunate for us) they contact none other than Satan himself who has decided the only man for his little girl is the leader of the Saints. Opening a portal from Hell, Satan sucks the President away and leaves Johnny Gat with no other option but to go rescue his friend. Kinzie, not to be left behind, forces him to let her come along.

Once in Hell, old enemies start to rear their heads. Dane Vogel, once CEO of Ultor Corporation, has set up shop since his defeat in Saints Row 2 and has come to the realization that the only team to play for is the Saints. As soon as Johnny and Kinzie confront him, he offers his assistance in rescuing the President, though not completely out of the kindness of his heart – the guy IS in Hell. He sets the Saints on a path of mayhem designed to catch the attention of Satan himself so that Johnny can shoot the Devil in the face like he wants to.

Along the way, more defeated enemies join the team (or die a lot) as well as ancient celebrities all who have a vendetta against Satan for one reason or another. They open up familiar side missions like Mayhem (my second favorite) where you destroy anything and everything in your path on a mission to destroy as much property value as you can. Insurance Fraud, survival and racing also return alongside new combat oriented missions.

Completing only a few missions fills up Satan’s Rage Meter which allows players to progress the story line with new cut scenes, mission types, and quests. It fills up so quickly that the story is over after several hours of dedicated play time. Normally a Saints Row game takes weeks to finish, but I only sat down with Gat Out of Hell three times before I had beat it.

Volition really missed the mark here as there was so much more they could have done with the allies you acquire throughout the journey to punch Satan in the face. The loyalty quests that are offered merely force you to complete more side-quests instead of building on the already interesting stories that bring you to choose these people as allies in the first place. Since Shakespeare is one of my favorite playwrights, I was particularly disappointed to have such little time with in the game. His story about falling in love with Satan’s daughter Jezebel is also abruptly left hanging without so much as a second glance. Even after she joins in on your missions no one breathes a word about it.

The main story line makes up for this glaring oversight fairly well. At one point my mind was completely blown as Satan and Jezebel began a musical number that included Kinzie and Johnny Gat. The final ending also surprised me by offering not one conclusion, but five, subject to the desire of the player.

Enough about the story already, let’s talk about the gameplay. If you’ve ever played any Saints Row game ever, you already know how to fight in Gat Out of Hell. Nothing much has changed, though the weapon selection has vastly expanded. Normal weapons exist (shotguns, pistols, sniper rifles, etc.) but Hell has its own brand of weaponry in the form of crossbows and exploding frog mortars. Side quests can be completed to find ultimate forms of each weapon type, landing with with a sofa armchair that not only used double barrel machine guns, but shot missiles at my enemies, and a pistol that talked to me when killing demons.

Alongside the load out, magical abilities granted by Johnny’s allies spice up battle – or make it incredibly easy depending on your point of view. Flight is the biggest addition, so entertaining and powerful that I didn’t once climb inside a car while playing Gat Out of Hell. Other powers include a bolt of energy, force stomp, summon imps, and an aura of cold fire that devastate enemies after several upgrades.

All in all, there’s nothing really new here when it comes to combat. Not that this is a bad thing. Saints Row has a great formula mixing in entertaining abilities with powerful, occasionally silly weaponry, with masses of baddies to destroy. Why fix something that isn’t broken?

With the entertaining story, standard combat and forgettable music, I give Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell four screaming cats out of five. It was wonderful, but wasn’t quite long enough and missed out on some good opportunities for entertainment. With most of the new side missions being combat oriented, I got bored pretty fast when usually I’ll spend hours getting my gold medals and acquiring territory.

Of course, this is just an expansion, but I see no reason that should mean it’s any less amazing than every other Saints Row game before it when it has so many Holy Shit moments already.

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