in Review

Saints Row: Gat out of Hell

With a new Fast and Furious movie out, I had to go back and check out this year’s new Saint’s Row game. After all, both franchises are about street-level criminals that rise in prominence thanks to their love for over-the-top stunts and each other. Saints Row: Gat out of Hell, which came out in January, shows how tight those bonds are as our characters literally go to the underworld to save one of their own. It’s more of what made Saints Row IV so fun, just not, you know, that much more.

So, spoilers for the last game: your character (the president) and the rest of the Third Street Saints are celebrating a very special birthday while adrift in your spaceship. Earth is still destroyed, which has created some overpopulation problems in Heaven and Hell, which somehow gives Satan the inspiration to grab the president and force them to marry his daughter, Jezebel. He successfully captures the president, so Johnny Gat and Kinzie go to hell to save them. How will the two of them accomplish that goal? By taking over New Hades, the new open world for this game.

New Hades feels a lot like the digital Steelport from the last game, even though it is a new city with a new layout and a hellish aesthetic. Instead of civilians there are miserable, suffering husks. Instead of water there are lakes of lava. The skyscrapers are still skyscrapers – corporate America fits right in Hell. But Saints Row IV felt like a splash of paint on Saints Row The Third and this feels like that dipped in fire. Saints Row The Third came out in 2011 and I hope the developers spend some time working on something really new for wherever the franchise goes next.

This game doesn’t really rehash anything gameplay-wise, however. Johnny gets powers that are similar but different enough compared to the ones the president had in the last game. Most notable are Johnny’s wings, which become the driving force behind several minigame types as well as the obvious preferred means of getting around. It’s a nice upgrade to the super jumping/gliding thing from Saints Row IV and it felt good to fly, for the most part. Johnny also gets access to some demonic weapons which aren’t really that exciting, at least the ones I found. The shotgun fires stakes, for example, and the grenade launcher shoots exploding toads. It sounds fun and looks good but doesn’t feel that different.

The real problem with Gat out of Hell is how short it is – I beat it in around five hours. That’s not a lot for a $20 game, and it’s even worse when you find out that there are only a couple story missions and that most of the game is made up of going around completing minigames and challenges. That’s fun and all, I don’t regret my purchase, but I’d like so much more… Maybe the series will be radically retooled for the next installment and this is kind of the bow on top of the gift that was the last couple games in the series. If that’s the case, great job guys! Don’t get cocky.