In Saints Row’s continued quest to descend into full-blown comedic lunacy, Volition and Deep Silver weren’t quite content to simply sic the Saints on an unfinished expansion and a major holiday for the highly quirky DLC expansions of the latest Saints Row IV. Instead, they had one more crazy concept behind them, one which would take the Saints into yet more uncharted territory. This is Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell, and as the title suggests, the Saints are descending into the Heart of Darkness itself!… Or at least two of them are.

Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell is yet another expansion to Saints Row IV, though unlike Enter the Dominatrix and How the Saints Saved Christmas, it’s not a DLC offering. Instead, Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell is offered as its own standalone expansion to Saints Row IV, meaning that it doesn’t require a copy of Saints Row IV to buy, play and enjoy. It’s just as well too, as Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell is the series’ first proper offering on the next-gen PS4 and Xbox One, releasing along with the established PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 platforms that Saints Row has thrived upon throughout the previous console generation.

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All five supported platforms let you download Gat Out of Hell separately on their digital storefronts for $19.99, plus the Xbox 360 and PS3 even offer a $19.99 retail package, complete with the expansion’s own disc. Gat Out of Hell is bundled free with the retail packages of next-gen PS4/Xbox One remaster, Saints Row IV: Re-Elected at retail as well, though if you buy Saints Row IV: Re-Elected digitally on either console, you’ll have to purchase Gat Out of Hell separately. Bear in mind as well that, while the Xbox One retail disc of Saints Row IV: Re-Elected simply includes the expansion on-disc, the PS4 version makes you download a digital copy of the expansion with an included voucher for some reason, necessitating an additional 7GB of space on your PS4.

Regardless of how you come by it though, Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell is another amusing return trip to Saints Row IV’s addictive insanity. It’s just a shame that it’s so short-lived and shallow however, ultimately failing to live up to the pedigree of the main Saints Row IV game. Hardcore fans of the series, or those just looking for a goofy diversion, should still absolutely play the expansion, especially if they can snag it on a digital sale, but for all of its chuckles and side activities, the concept feels like it falls short of what it could have been, had Volition committed to realizing it as a full game.

VISUALS

Saints Row IV was never a standout for its modest visuals, particularly in the console builds, and Gat Out of Hell doesn’t really take things any further. The game looks good without looking truly spectacular in any real way, and in its PS4 and Xbox One versions, it definitely looks pretty last-gen for the most part.

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On the bright side, the visual design gives Hell, or New Hades as it’s referred to in the game, a very nice batch of character. All sorts of subtle, amusing touches are given to the environments, which are highly detailed, and great fun to explore. Despite Hell supposing to be a place of eternal torment, the demon underworld feels like just another kooky stop in the increasingly bizarre journey of the Saints, complete with its own tongue-in-cheek strip clubs, fast food joints and roadways. Unique locations like Blackbeard’s pirate ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, and a deranged self-help center that continually plays repetitive nursery songs, continue to make New Hades stand out as all the more unique and cool.

Likewise, the game’s reliably ludicrous weaponry and relentless demonic hordes make combat feel as manic and comically overwhelming as it was in Saints Row IV. Some platforms handle the action better than others, with the PC version and PS4 version having the most stable framerates overall, but you’ll get plenty of off-the-wall spectacle, regardless of your platform of choice.

Speaking of performance, that’s what mostly separates the last-gen and next-gen versions of Gat Out of Hell, as there’s very little difference to speak of in the actual, modest graphics. On optimal settings, the PC version is a clear cut above the console builds in terms of graphics, though even then, the game isn’t a visual showstopper when compared to many other modern triple-A games. The PS4 and Xbox One versions both run at native 1080p resolution, with the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions instead capping at 720p resolution, but even then, the tiny boost in texture sharpness, lighting and animation is barely noticeable in the next-gen builds over the last-gen builds, which can barely be told apart at all.

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Framerate however, is a different story. Again, if you have a powerful gaming computer, the PC version runs the smoothest and looks the sharpest when cranked to its best settings, even if players may need to tweak the uncapped framerate to maximize performance if they can only manage less than optimal requirements on their rigs. The PS4 version also runs perfectly smoothly at pretty much all times with a brisk 60fps, even during heated battle scenarios. The Xbox One version runs at 60fps most of the time as well, though the Xbox One’s inferior GPU really suffers with all of the craziness that can often unfold on-screen, resulting in dropped frames that can slow performance significantly at times on Microsoft’s console. This gives the Xbox One version of Gat Out of Hell noticeable slowdown that isn’t present in the PS4 version.

For those still preferring to play on last-gen consoles, the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of Gat Out of Hell have locked 30fps framerates, making them feel a bit less smooth than their next-gen counterparts on PS4 and Xbox One, but again, the difference isn’t that noticeable. Bear in mind however that both the Xbox 360 and PS3 processors are noticeably more strained by all of the chaos, as was the case with the original Xbox 360 and PS3 builds of Saints Row IV, and this can result in some bad framerate hiccups, and sometimes even hard freezes on both platforms. It’s pretty rare, but it’s still a nuisance when it does happen, and an unfortunate hazard that those who haven’t yet upgraded their console may risk running into.

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Gat Out of Hell carries itself on character much more than impressive technical feats when it comes to the visuals, so it doesn’t really buck Saints Row trends on any platform. Still, it stands par with any version of Saints Row IV on its respective platform, so expect that same level of modest visual polish.

AUDIO

Gat Out of Hell consists of a largely tongue-in-cheek soundtrack of classy acoustics in strings in most of the cutscenes, with main gameplay being largely devoid of background music, as with the virtual Steelport simulation in Saints Row IV. The music remains pretty inconsequential, since the larger-than-life sound effects will continue to gobble up all of the audio attention.

As far as those go, Gat Out of Hell remains a barrage of cartoonishly overblown and/or out-of-place audio effects that amuse as much as they engage. The player’s own arsenal feels like it could have been yanked from an especially demonic Ratchet & Clank game, with armchairs that fire gatling guns and rockets, flaming swords that cleave through demonic hordes, and grenade launchers that shoot exploding frogs, among many other things. Sure, some of Saints Row IV’s more unique weapons like the Dubstep Gun or the Rectifier are no longer present, but the new arsenal is just as much sadistic fun to listen to, as you unleash waves of unyielding otherworldly overkill on your foes.

Voice acting also remains outstanding, as with any Saints Row game. The characters are as loveable and mischievous as ever, with Daniel Dae Kim continuing to give Gat his loveably badass appeal, as Natalie Lander continues to make Kinzie as oblivious as she is demented. Both actors have plenty of voice clips and commentary that are very entertaining to listen to, with certain in-game locations resulting in special contextual quips, depending on whether you bring Gat or Kinzie there.

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Hollywood comedian, Jay Mohr also returns to once again voice Saints Row 2 villain, Dane Vogel, now an entrepreneur of Hell, and a key character in the game. This is a cool throwback to the earlier days of Saints Row, before the series fully went off the comedic deep end, and several other veteran Saints Row voice actors also make cameos as their fallen characters throughout the game, which will tickle longtime fans. All in all, it’s a superb voice cast of new and old personalities, with Gat Out of Hell delivering as much addictive character as the series always has.

Most of what you’ll be hearing are over-the-top explosions and sarcastic jesting, but nobody does explosively irreverent fun quite like Saints Row. That’s still very much true in Gat Out of Hell!

GAMEPLAY

Gat Out of Hell sees Gat and Kinzie thrust into the bowels of Hell to take their leader (your custom player character from Saints Row IV) back from Satan himself. To do so, they’ll need to ally themselves with key figures throughout Hell, at the suggestion of their former enemy, Dane Vogel, and disrupt enough of the underworld to earn an audience with the Prince of Darkness himself.

So, as with Saints Row IV and Zinyak’s simulation, this is yet another instance where the objective of the game is simply to mess around and cause trouble, between both mandatory story missions, and optional missions and challenges. You can switch between Gat and Kinzie at any time within the Ultor Building that serves as your unofficial ‘base’, though both are identical in terms of gameplay, and both characters completely share stats and accumulated weapons.

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Immediately, some players may be disappointed to see that most of the customization that was prevalent throughout the mainline Saints Row games is now absent in Gat Out of Hell. There’s no way to re-dress Gat or Kinzie, and obviously, you can no longer create your own custom protagonist in this expansion. Similarly, you can’t customize a base, manage a garage of vehicles, or do anything that the main games would allow you to do in terms of tailoring your criminal empire to your own tastes. Again, this is perhaps to be expected in an expansion, but it creates tons of missed opportunities that a full game could have exploited with this concept.

Similarly letting down the expansion is a bizarre focus on almost nothing but side missions overall. Even with its heavier focus on side tasks, Saints Row IV still delivered plenty of unique, memorable story missions that had entirely unique parameters. Gat Out of Hell on the other hand just feels like a collection of side jobs, some of which are arbitrarily made mandatory, beginning with an interesting intro sequence to get you used to the navigation of New Hades, and culminating with the inevitable showdown against Satan.

This leads to Gat Out of Hell feeling like a real missed opportunity to cap off the events of Saints Row IV in a truly grand, fulfilling way. Even picking from five different endings doesn’t lead to any sense of reward, with each ending being overly brief, even if one does tease an interesting reboot concept for a potential Saints Row V.

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Still, even if the 3-5 hour main quest ultimately disappoints, the truly devout Saints Row players that love diving into each eccentric sandbox will at least find a healthy amount of new challenges to enjoy. New Hades may clearly rip several assets from Steelport in Saints Row: The Third and Saints Row IV, something that the game even cheekily admits to in the intro, but for the most part, it’s actually an entirely new city with entirely new locations. Each new location comes with plenty of tasks too, whether it’s the straightforward challenge of killing so many demons, or the goofy side missions that present fun new twists on Saints Row IV gameplay.

Some of the mission varieties feel taken beat-for-beat from Saints Row IV, namely ‘Torment Fraud’, which is just this expansion’s version of ‘Insurance Fraud’, and ‘Mayhem’, which once again just has you destroying everything in sight. Still, Gat Out of Hell makes an effort to make these new variations of said missions distinct, having you play as the husks of former Saints Row characters, complete with backstories about their demise in Torment Fraud, and allowing you to use the new demonic weaponry for Mayhem.

Some all-new mission varieties are featured in Gat Out of Hell however, with a particular highlight being ‘Pledge Rush’, a minigame that has you using a spiked paddle to knock demonic frat boys into hoops under a time limit. ‘Hellblazing’ is another all-new variation on a former activity, now having players fly through large orbs to reach a goal under a time limit.

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Speaking of flying, this is a major gameplay addition in Gat Out of Hell. While the Saints boss and their powers in Zinyak’s simulation aren’t playable for this expansion, Vogel soon gives Gat and Kinzie the gift of the devil’s cracked halo, which grants them similar capabilities to your custom character in Saints Row IV, including super-sprinting and enhanced strength. It also gives both Gat and Kinzie the all-new ability to fly however, with flying being a particularly cool way to get around New Hades, one which works as an expansion of the ability to glide across large distances in Saints Row IV.

When flying, players hold a shoulder button to take to the air, and then must maintain speed by not flying up too high to keep their wings active. Players must also watch their stamina, since flying continually drains it, just as sprinting does. Players can increase their momentum with a limited amount of wing flaps, which they can gain more of by spending Cash on upgrading their flying capabilities. It’s a very cool mechanic that feels freeing, yet balances itself out so that it’s not completely exploitable. It continues to make cars completely obsolete, beyond some of the optional challenges that you can do for achievements/trophies, but that’s fine, as flying around New Hades collecting Soul Clusters (of which there are 940, calling back to the absurdly high collectible Data Cluster count of Saints Row IV), is a real delight.

Similarly, the magic powers that you could wield in Saints Row IV have also been re-worked a bit in Gat Out of Hell. ‘Blast’ for example can now turn enemies to stone, leaving you to shatter them with your weapons, while stomp can now be re-worked to draw enemies in with a vacuum, or perhaps expel them with holy light. New capabilities are also offered in Gat Out of Hell, such as an icy fire aura that burns demons with intense cold when you approach them, and a summoning ability that lets you call your own demons to wreak havoc on your foes. Players can visit Altars throughout New Hades to give their powers new elements as they’re unlocked, toggling their capabilities, and they can also make their powers more potent by spending Soul Clusters, with many of those obviously lying around the open world for players to grab.

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As with the past several Saints Row games, Gat Out of Hell fully supports co-op on all platforms as well, both locally and online. In co-op sessions, one player controls Gat, while the other controls Kinzie. Since everything is better with a buddy, playing Gat Out of Hell in co-op feels like the best way to have fun with it, though the activity list is the same for both solo players and co-op players, so you’re not losing anything if you either want or need to go it alone. Still, blowing through the entire expansion with the right pal can be a real blast, and helps make the game’s story feel more organic, with both Gat and Kinzie participating equally in the fun.

Lastly, if you already played through Saints Row IV on Xbox 360 or PS3, and are wondering if it’s safe to buy the expansion standalone on your PS4 or Xbox One, the answer is, yes, completely. The only advantage to sharing your former play data between Saints Row IV and Gat Out of Hell when you play both on the same platform is that your player character from Saints Row IV will be featured in the intro and outro cutscenes in Gat Out of Hell, rather than the generic male lead that is assigned to you otherwise. While it can be funny to have Satan so determined for his daughter to marry a female Saints leader, if you played as a woman in Saints Row IV on the same platform, it’s nothing essential. There’s no reason to stubbornly insist on playing both Saints Row IV and Gat Out of Hell on the same platform, so go ahead and buy the expansion by itself on your PS4 or Xbox One if you upgraded your console, and have no interest in re-playing Saints Row IV again on the next-gen consoles with Saints Row IV: Re-Elected.

Those playing for the main story content will no doubt feel short-changed, since Gat Out of Hell is wanting for real depth beyond its generous helping of diversions, but those coming for the diversions and freeform carnage will find a surprisingly large list of activities to enjoy. Whether it’s amassing the Seven Deadly Weapons, checking off another eccentric list of challenges, rounding up every Soul Cluster, upgrading everything to max, conquering the remaining neighbourhoods of New Hades, maximizing your ranks and scores in the side missions, or just generally chasing achievements/trophies (the PS3 and PS4 versions even sport a Platinum Trophy to shoot for!), Gat Out of Hell contains enough activities to triple, or perhaps even quadruple the time that you would spend playing the main story. You have to spend at least 20 hours in the game to get every achievement/trophy anyway, since one of them is a traditional Saints Row achievement/trophy awarded for playing the game for a certain length of time, in the case of Gat Out of Hell, 20 hours.

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So, the real sandbox addicts who crave mastering the open world are going to get the most bang for their buck here, as Gat Out of Hell makes for a bigger draw as a surprisingly large roster of distractions than a true story-based expansion.

STORYLINE

Being a Saints Row game, Gat Out of Hell continues to be all about manic craziness more than anything else. Serving as an epilogue to the events of Saints Row IV, with the Saints still wandering outer space in their ship, the gang attempts to celebrate Kinzie’s birthday party one day, with Matt Miller fishing out a ouija board that Zinyak was hoarding in his treasure pile. After the ouija board tells the boss that they will marry ‘Jezebel’, the boss is sucked into a portal to Hell, leaving Gat and Kinzie to intimidate the board into sending them after their leader. From there, the story is simply about Gat and Kinzie attempting to reach Satan, and shoot him in the face, before the boss is forcibly married to Satan’s daughter.

Given the brevity of the main story, there isn’t much to the plot of Gat Out of Hell, which doesn’t feel quite as funny or clever as Saints Row IV, though still manages some solid chuckles anyway. The re-introduction of Dane Vogel and Ultor is a highlight, as is some of the amusing cutscenes that flesh out major denizens of Hell, including Blackbeard and William Shakespeare, but it all feels like a great concept that just wasn’t taken to its full potential.

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Like I said, even the five endings that players can choose feel overly brief and unfulfilling. It’s a shame, especially since Volition successfully turned Enter the Dominatrix into a great mainline sequel when it was originally planned as a DLC expansion for Saints Row: The Third. Why they didn’t expand Gat Out of Hell in a similar fashion is frustratingly unclear. This deserved to be a full-blown Saints Row game, where it no doubt would have had far more great comedy and story to work with.

That’s the most frustrating thing about Gat Out of Hell. It’s a decent expansion that could have instead provided a great story backdrop for a Saints Row V, only perhaps with another character getting snatched instead of the boss. The story is a well of missed opportunities, with its fleeting laughs and quasi-realized potential, and while fans will enjoy the chance to play as Gat and Kinzie in their own dedicated adventure, it’s an adventure that just didn’t tap its potential to be bigger, especially in terms of the plot.

THE VERDICT

More reliable Saints Row madness is never a bad thing, and Gat Out of Hell will certainly help to scratch the itch of players that are eagerly awaiting further developments in the series, or just want to have a demon-blasting good time that doesn’t demand too much of them. That said however, as much as it provides a good dose of fun side activities, this expansion carries the aftertaste of disappointment, since it’s clearly not realizing its full potential.

Naturally, those who would enjoy Gat Out of Hell most are established Saints Row fans, though the most content among them will no doubt be those who enjoy mastering these games and their challenges completely, over just enjoying the recent comedic storylines of Saints Row: The Third and Saints Row IVGat Out of Hell will certainly keep you busy for noticeably longer than most expansions will, if you’re coming for the side activities that it’s placing an over-abundant amount of emphasis on, but as a true Saints Row experience, it feels wanting. Its main event ends too quickly, and too abruptly, and it just should have been more.

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Still, for $19.99, the wealth of side activities makes for a solid value, if you’re a fan, or just want an undemanding smaller-scale sandbox game. The game is relatively the same on any platform, though the PC version comes highest recommended if your rig can handle it on optimal settings, since that’s when the game is at its smoothest and best-presented. You don’t lose much if you’re still limited to an Xbox 360 and/or a PS3, though out of the console builds, the PS4 version offers the most reliable and smooth performance for sure. Xbox One players will have a slightly bumpier ride, thanks to some sporadic slowdown unique to that version, and while the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions aren’t that noticeable a downgrade from their PS4 and Xbox One counterparts, they have rare stability issues that can result in freezing and loading problems. That’s on top of all five versions of the game having occasional issues with bugs and glitches overall, especially with contextual actions not loading properly at times, and forcing a soft reboot of the game.

Still, for its shortcomings and missed opportunities, Gat Out of Hell is fun. It’s nothing special, but it’s a reasonable amount of fun. It’s just a shame that it didn’t get to be Saints Row V. It no doubt would have been better in that case.

Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell Review
Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell is a competent expansion with a good helping of diversions, but its overly brief main story and disappointing lack of depth limit the potential of its brilliant concept.
VISUALS70%
AUDIO85%
GAMEPLAY70%
STORYLINE55%
THE GOOD STUFF
  • Concept is awesome
  • Loads of challenges and side tasks
  • Co-op is fun as ever
THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF
  • Lack of customization and depth limits potential
  • Too much emphasis on side tasks
  • Performance issues on most platforms
70%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0%

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