(Editor Note: Daniel Geikowski, wrote this review for us with a promotional copy provided by Deep Silver) Saints Row is a franchise that identifies itself with the term “ridiculous.” The first was a GTA knock-off. The second embraced a little more silliness. Volition found their niche with The Third. Finally, IV took the game to superhero-proportions by giving the player super powers. To put it simply, this is not a serious series, and it’s one of the funniest games out there.
Volition and Deep Silver have ported Saints Row IV and its new expansion Gat Out of Hell to next-gen consoles, and quite honestly, I’m not entirely sure it warrants your purchase.
For a full review of IV, please check out our original review. This review will award a score for each ported title individually, and the package as a whole. The version being reviewed is the Xbox One.
Saint’s Row IV
Saints Row IV casts the player in a role signifying the ultimate ascendance of the Saints: the President of the United States. The game starts out comical enough, but the proverbial things hit the fan when aliens invade and cause massive destruction. The President gets thrown into a simulation of Earth where he attains superpowers, and must ultimately defeat the alien menace to avenge Earth and humanity.
In this Re-Elected edition of the game, the base game includes all previously released DLC (missions, weapons, items, etc.). For its price tag, it provides value, and still holds up as a genuinely fun game. While the game does not contain very many technical issues like Gat Out of Hell, it still does not run at a constant framerate and ultimately comes off as unimpressive for a game on current generation consoles.
If you have never played the game before and have interest in the franchise, whether as a returning fan or a new one, I would ultimately say that it provides value for its entry fee. However, as of the time of review, the framerate issues are not justifiable (especially for a game that runs better on PCs with worse specs than the consoles) – especially when you can get the game cheaper on Steam.
Gat out of Hell
Ever since the original, Johnny Gat has been a series staple and a personal favorite of mine. Rude, sarcastic, and always witty, Johnny brings comic relief to a game that is arguably entirely based on comic relief – and that’s a feat.
Gat Out of Hell sees the player from IV, the President of the United States, sucked into hell via Ouija board. As it would turn out, Satan himself was impressed with the destruction and chaos caused by the President in his term, and wishes to wed the President to his daughter Jezebel. Johnny Gat, of course, takes it upon himself to follow the President into hell to – wait for it – assassinate the dark lord and free his friend.
The expansion revolves around causing enough chaos in hell to attract Satan’s attention, and you have many tools at your disposal to accomplish this goal. The usual activities return with hell-themed renditions; for example, the activity focusing on insurance fraud has you playing as one of the grim denizens of hell, and you must throw yourself in front of cars to rack up not dollars, but years off of your “sentence” in hell. You also have missions to accomplish, which largely center around recruiting various people throughout real and franchise history to join your team, such as William Shakespeare, Blackbeard, and The Twins (latter being from the franchise) to piss off Satan.
You also have powers like in Saints Row IV, but these are more focused on a hell-like vision. Johnny Gat has wings and can fly, and his powers are generally focused on summoning demonic imps, doing super stomps, and things of the like. Unfortunately, while it sounds great on paper, the execution was not so entertaining. Navigating with the wings is very clunky, and God help you (pun) if you need to jump a small distance – it’s no easy task. You also cannot sprint. The game wants you to fly around and explore, but all of the activities and mission starts are generally on the ground… defeating the purpose. I hated running around on the ground. Also, at one point you get a chair with a machine gun on it and you roam around like something out of Garry’s Mod.
This brings me to my biggest criticism of Gat out of Hell: it just feels like an idea that sounded awesome on paper, but simply didn’t follow through in execution. When I first booted up the game, I was seriously confused because, as one would expect from an interpretation of hell, I expected everything to start attacking me. Nope. The strange skeleton-like denizens of hell just mind their own business. The only people posing any threat to the player are Satan’s demons, which are like the police in the game.
Johnny as a character felt off. It reminded me of Gears of War: Judgment, in that the character was more of a distant representation of someone you thought you knew from previous games that you would come to understand better, but whose performance and delivery ultimately fizzle.
The game itself was just not visually appealing. While I understand that hell can only have so much visual variety with this vein of interpretation, the game itself just looks bland. Buildings are all the same shade of greys and browns, every “citizen” of hell looks the same, and at the end of it all, it just feels not funny or scary – it feels weird, and not in a good or entertaining way.
On top of this criticism, the game is a genuinely bad port. The game jumps from around 20 to 60 FPS constantly. Even with enabling the optional v-sync in the options menu, I can’t see any visual change – and I’ve played the PC version back in 2013. The game lacks anti-aliasing and looks very dated. Saints Row IV on PC was a very optimized game; my current PC, which is probably around the power of the current gen consoles (maybe a little less), runs the game better than this.
In effect, you really aren’t getting your money’s worth in this situation. The expansion will only run you a few hours, and I could only recommend it to a die-hard fan of the series that wants to see the story continued. Maybe these issues will be alleviated with a day-one patch, but that’s what we said with Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Assassin’s Creed: Unity. At this point in time, it’s a very poor rendition of the title that would only benefit someone who has never played the game before and does not own a capable gaming PC.
At the end of the day, there is a pretty solid amount of content awaiting players who pick up the physical package. When grouping both together as a package, you get more value than purchasing either game individually – but take them on their own, and there’s not really much to recommend, especially with the technical issues. Maybe these issues were specific to the Xbox One, but there is no excuse for this.
Combined score (Physical package)
Review conducted with version supplied by the Deep Silver.