Saints Row IV: Re-Elected
The Saints Row IV: Re-Elected and Gat out of Hell double feature has left me with a bit of problem, not least of which is an appropriate acronym, SRIVR/GooH? SaintGat? But mainly how exactly do you review a game that is available in so many different formats? Do I try and find the “best” option for your gaming dollar? Just give you the information and let you make up your mind? Or do I stick my head in the Next-Gen sand and purely review the Xbox One double header I played? The last option appears the most sensible but is also the least palatable. Am I really going to recommend you spend $80+ on a game you can get for $20?! The industry needs to try and get some perspective on game prices and realise a “re-mastered” 2 year old game is simply not worth as much as a brand new game. Well except for GTA V, I’ve bought that twice at full price and it was worth every cent! Perhaps therein lays my answer, if this game was genuinely great I would be happy to recommend a full price purchase and the fact I’m not means the game isn’t worth the price of admission…
Having said that my journey through SRIV: Re-elected has been a slightly unusual one.
When it was first released in August 2013 I had no desire to play it. I loved Saints Row 3; it was insanely good fun and the equal of its contemporaries however I had no interest in being a superhero. I wanted to be a slutty gang-banger racing around in cars/tanks/VTOLs with enough weaponry to put a 90’s action movie to shame. But when I heard it was coming to the Xbox One I decided there was nothing available that would match the fun of a Saints Row game and so waited anxiously for it to arrive. Sadly when it did arrive all my worst fears were confirmed (with some extra things I hadn’t be worried about added on). The game was dated (the Re-Election still leaves it looking decidedly last gen), the progression was broken (I had a tank saved to my “magic garage” inside 10 minutes of play) and my slutty president just wasn’t doing it for me (wrong voice, wrong hair, wrong boobs face). I persevered until I felt I could do a desultory review that would leave my GameGuide.co.nz masters appeased. So in the meantime I fired up Gat out of Hell.
Sadly that seemed like a mistake as it revealed some spoilers to Saints Row IV itself (oh well I didn’t intend to play it again anyway). Still I decided to push on; any game with Johnny Gat is worth my time. Gat out of Hell kicks off with a traditional Saints Row style cut scene but after that it uses these brilliant Bayeux Tapestry style comic strips to expand the story and give direction. It’s difficult to really describe and it doesn’t sound all that great but I found it a really positive change, the narration is superb and when… well no spoilers, but let’s say it reminded me of how Fun the Saints Row games are.
Gat out of Hell itself is best considered a weak DLC. It rather reminds me of Metal Gear Solid 5 for the small scope and lack of reply value (unless you want to do the same thing over and over). It has a general storyline that gives you a reason to explore and develop your character but there are no actual missions. All the tasks are simply the traditional free-roam activities (Mayhem, Survival, Trail Blazing etc) with variations to allow for the fact Johnny has wings and super powers. The limited highlights come in the form of great characters (particularly the reinvented historical figures) and some great weapons designed around the seven deadly sins. Sure you get to play Johnny Gat (and Kinzie, I love Kinzie!) but it’s just not enough to justify this as a standalone title (on PS3/360) that retails at 75% of a new release. I finished what there is of a story in only 4 hours. That was just enough to get me in the mood for super powers and it left me wanting a bit more Saints Row madness. So rather than turning it all off and writing my review I decided to have one last look at Saints Row IV.
It still didn’t look particularly good with no appreciable benefit from the next-gen remastering and it still had too many unnecessary features left over from SR3 but the fun also started to ooze out. The most obvious hang-over from SR3 is the map; it is (as far as I can tell) identical. Initially I was quite disappointed but once the superpowers unlocked I stopped using vehicles and the city changed. I discovered how 3 dimensional it is! I used aircraft extensively in SR3 but buildings were always for avoiding not running up! I’m surprised by their ability to craft a new experience from the same map, and if you accept that the decision was financial rather due to a lack of care or ambition it actually becomes quite impressive. Remembering that Saints Row IV was originally planned to be DLC and THQ was imploding as Saints Row IV was being developed I’m willing to take this on faith and consider it a success rather than a criticism.
Within a couple of hours the similarities to SR3 stopped being an issue at all and I got lost in the crazy missions and story. I got caught up in seeing what was going to happen next and as often as not the result was “OH MY GOD I GET TO THAT IS SO COOL!” or I would unlock a new power or insane weapon and have to find something to rampage on. I also went to the plastic surgeon to fix up the gaffs with my character and, as if by magic, The Third Street Saints had me again. I was addicted, I had to play the, as dodgy as it sounds, DLC (Enter the Dominatrix), I kept doing “just 1 more mission” until 2 o’clock in the morning. I had to collect every damn orb I could find so that I could beat down that Dominatrix with my bare fists. Gat out of Hell was the gateway drug that left me open to the pleasures of Saints Row IV and I was hooked!
Overall I still feel the best hit comes from picking up a $20 copy of SRIV on the 360 or PS3, the price of Gat out of Hell is too high and there is little reason to buy it as a standalone game. It’s an equally big ask to pay full price for the SRIV/Gat out of Hell double feature when there are more compelling options (Farcry 4, GTAV) but if you don’t have a last gen console and have never had a Saints Row experience there is very little currently available on PS4/XB1 that is more fun, more insane and more satisfying.
So there it is, Saints Row IV: Re-Elected, it’s not particularly good but, by Johnny Gat, it sure is fun!
Reviewed on: XBox One
Rating: R18 Contains violence, sexual themes and offensive language.
Reviewed by: Aaron