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Saint's Row IV: Gat Out of Hell & Re-elected Review


Why aren’t comedies held in the same regard as deep story-driven titles? Why are tears of sadness worth more than tears of laughter? That’s the question I had at the end of Saints Row IV Re-Elected and Gat Out of Hell. A complex narrative, and a world full of lore, is great when you’re in the right mood, but what happens if you just want to kick back and laugh? What happens when you just want to play dress up and shoot things in new and interesting ways? Well, the answer to that is Saints Row IV; a game that puts the ‘fun’ back in ‘funny.’

Saints IV, as a game, understands what it is and never tries to be anything more than it needs to be. It’s kind of like a Nintendo game in that respect, albeit one with an obsession with dildos and other phallic objects. The game wants to be something people enjoy playing. To borrow a phrase, it’s a sandbox full of toys waiting to be messed with.

The sandbox itself isn’t anything to get too excited about. There’s plenty of stuff and things in the world, but it’s largely devoid of life. There are people, but they have no purpose other than to get in the player’s way and provide a satisfying ‘squelch’ when they fall haplessly under a vehicle. 



Here's the catch, though; it’s fine. Saints Row IV takes place inside a computer simulation following the destruction of Earth at the hands of an alien overlord. So you’re playing a game inside a game. Meaning when people don’t do anything of interest, it’s the game holding up a mirror to the modern video game. Game’s largely suck at delivering an exciting world. There are exceptions, sure, but let’s be realistic here, we’ve got such low standards that an NPC being able to talk on a phone is a huge accomplishment. And, of course, when a world manages to be full of interesting people going about their daily life, something really obvious sucks – like the actual gameplay.

Shall we talk toys? I think so. Saints Row has a lot going for it, one of the big catches here, though, is its utter disregard for any resemblance of logic. Take the dub-step gun, which is now one of my favourite guns ever. It’s genius. It plays music – dub-step, or depending on which version, death metal, funk, or Ride of the Valkyries – and with each pulse of the beat comes a neon blast, damaging anything stupid enough to get in its way.

Or there’s the Merica weapon, which combines a light machine gun with a sub machine gun, an auto shotgun, heavy pistol, chaingun, rocket launcher, a flamethrower, and it has a massive knife just for kicks. Or, in Gat Out of Hell, there’s an armchair fitted with rocket launchers and two railguns. 



Weapon mash-ups are so insane they’re brilliant. Nothing makes sense, yet almost everything has something for someone. The only downside to having such absurd armoury of violence is conventional weapons often feel lacklustre. Can an AK-47 ever resonate in the same way a gun that shoots a hole in the fabric of time can? Does it really matter if pistols feel like pea-shooters compared to a magnet capable of picking up cars and tossing them around aimlessly? I didn’t think so either.

Saints Row IV nails gameplay. Whether it’s with weapons, or a wide array of wrestling moves, or with the game’s superhero powers, it never gets old. Picking up an enemy with the game’s telekinesis ability, then hurtling its flailing body through the air as its screams fade into the background, all the while listening to Haddaway on the radio – it’s dumb-fun. Is a big enemy causing you grief? Pick up a truck and chuck it at them. Saints Row IV is a game to be played. That may sound like an obvious statement, but it’s not an ‘experience,’ it’s a game for players to fool around in for 20 plus hours.

It’s not all great, though. But I do have to question whether its flaws are enough to advise against purchasing. After all, this isn’t a full price retail title.

The first problem, and probably the most obvious is that the port isn’t particularly anything to get excited about. Great game, generic port. High Voltage Software, the folks behind the port, really took the easiest route possible - which I suppose explains why this is Saints Row IV: Re-elected as oppose to Saints Row IV: Remastered. It looks like a last-gen game that’s been ported over rather than a game with a new lick of paint. Particle effects pop more, loading time’s a bit quicker, but in some cases - draw distance, and a framerate that very occasionally bounces - it looks either the same or worse. 



Mind you, I doubt a lot of people will notice the differences. When you’re running at high speed through the world of Steelport, you’ll be more focused on timing the perfect jump or landing on an orb (to unlock new powers) to really care. The port should have been better, but for the price of the title, and the fact you get Gat Out of Hell, and you get every piece of DLC included in the cost, if you’re a Saints Row fan, you really won’t care.

The next problem comes via the Gat Out of Hell expansion/big ol’ DLC. For a start, it’s essentially Saints Row: Activities. Which if you like Activities you’ll love, if not, then you’re outta luck. The new powers in the DLC are enjoyable. Flying makes everything 10 percent more fun, but overall it falls down on a few occasions. In it, you can play as either Johnny Gat or Kinzie Kensington, although the game consistently refers to Kinzie as Gat, making the choice arbitrary. Furthermore, there’s too many collectables, and to exacerbate the problem, Gat even comments on how many collectables there are in an attempt to sound meta.
Look, if the main character says what the player’s doing is rubbish, don’t then make players do it. If anything it should be: "F***ing collectables." Then the game gives you something else to do.

Gat Out of Hell is a fun enough pit-stop, but story pacing and some bizarre design decisions hold it back from being as good as it could be.

The final issue comes with Saints Row’s humour, which at times can be juvenile. Now I know arguing with Saints Row for being juvenile is like having a go at a cat for meowing, but hear me out. Take the giant purple dildo weapon. The joke here isn’t that you’re beating people with a massive cock. Anyone buying the game is an adult, so dildos aren’t really that funny. The joke, in fact, is how the dildo works. The physics towards the head of the penis (is this awkward yet?) moves of its own accord, which makes it look ridiculous. It looks stupid, and thus, funny. It’s programmed to be silly, which is clever.

But for the cleverness that goes into making an over-sized cock funny, there’s juvenile stuff like the alien probe penetrator weapon. The joke here is that you shove it up someone’s bum and shoot them into the air. It just isn’t funny, and the weapon itself is slow and not even fun to play with, so all we’re left with is the joke, which isn’t clever, and is just juvenile. Saints Row’s humour comes from its cleverness, its design, and its ability to ignore realism. “Shove it up people’s arses,” isn’t really a joke is it?

And we’re back to the humour. Bar a few occasions of getting it wrong, Saints Row IV is the funniest game out there, and I don’t think people know how hard it is to make something funny. Sure, humour is subjective (much like video game reviews, incidentally), but Saints Row knows who's playing it. It knows how to make you care about its ludicrous characters, and it knows how to make you smile.

Saints Row IV isn’t going to leave you exhausted. If you need a break from GTA, or if inFamous Second Son feels like a distant memory. Or even if you wished there was another Crackdown game, then you should really consider taking Saints Row out for a spin. You’ll probably end up contracting something you weren’t hoping for, but you’ll be glad you came.

And besides, what was the last game to make you laugh?

Words by Wesley Copeland.
Twitter: @Wesley_Copeland

(Version Tested: PS4)

Pros

+ Hilarious 
+ Tonnes of content 
+ Dub-step gun

Cons

- Often juvenile and forgets what makes it so funny
- Standard port 
- Dub-step gun

Edited On 19 Jan, 2015

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