Saints Row games have never been known for their subtlety. What started out as a poor man’s Grand Theft Auto quickly blossomed into the direct-to-DVD equivalent of higher-budgeted, more serious games. Anarchic and not giving a damn, Saints Row is essentially a Tex Avery cartoon in the digital flesh, a no-holds barred extravaganza of violence with no limits. But for all of its anarchic tendencies and emphasis on chaos without consequences, Saints Row games have always had a direction worth following and revelling in. And with the standalone Expansion Gat Out Of Hell, that very direction has been drop-kicked into the inferno. And it’s a costly mistake.
It all starts out innocently enough. After the events of Saints Row 4, the Saints find themselves jetting around the universe, until a Ouija board sucks in the Saints leader and sends him off to hell where he’ll be wed to the charmingly naive daughter of the big D himself, Satan. Ready to rescue the boss, series stalwarts Kinzie and Johnny Gat jump in after him, and find themselves ready to tear Hell a new inferno. Along the way, players will gain access to new angelic and demonic powers, team up with the likes of Vlad the impaler and a sadistic William Shakespeare while shaking down Hell in order to find the boss.
In any other game, that would sound like a ridiculous premise. In Saints Row, it’s not only par for the course, but one of the more mundane setups that the franchise has delved into so far. Despite the fact that Hell looks like it was ripped straight off of an Iron Maiden cover and the city of Stillwater has been dipped in brimstone in order to create a different palette, the entire product feels lacking.
It’s a far cry from the super-powered mayhem of Saints Row, stripped down to its bare essentials that is disappointingly light on any content outside of some cosmetic differences. Clothing stores are nowhere to be found, so forget about giving Johnny or Kinzie some new threads. There are zero homies to call in, not even a single heavy metal radio station to listen to and the lack of a mission structure only helps to emphasise these points.
It’s easy to blame this on the standalone expansion pack nature of the game, but at $20, it still feels like a severely gimped experience with a vastly scaled back approach to the Saints Row formula.
The bulk of the gameplay comes from players needing to gain the attention of Satan. To do so, they’ll need to fill a bar up that is known as “Satan’s Wrath”, which will eventually progress the story. To get that bar filled up, players will need to engage in the usual antics of a Saint, such as collecting fraudulent insurance from the damned by literally throwing them underneath the bus, causing mass mayhem with designated weapons and flying through races with your new angelic powers, which are merely re-skinned variants of Saints Row 4’s powers.
At least that much is unspoiled, as players can still find themselves pouring lead into numerous demons, before charging into them and setting them on fire or curb-stomping their faces into a higher plane of existence. The game does a fine job of reminding players about its chaotic sandbox nature, but it’s been done before and better in previous games.
A frame-rate that struggles to render old-gen graphics on newer hardware during more chaotic firefights doesn’t help sell the game either and neither does the disappointingly short run time, with Gat Out Of Hell easily being clocked in under three hours. It’s not even the most charming of games in the franchise either, with the musical number of the game being the only highlight in a tale with jokes that are painfully obvious and rarely funny.
As an add-on that comes with the newly released Saints Row 4: Re-Elected package, it’s an average bonus that will tide you over until the next and more fully-featured sequel. But as a standalone expansion, it’s hardly heavenly.
Last Updated: February 16, 2015