Saints Row 4: Reelected/Gat Out of Hell
Publisher: Deep Silver
Release Date: 1/20/15
Back in 2013, I was given the opportunity to review Saints Row 4, and I thought it was the greatest thing since… well maybe not sliced bread. Toasted sliced bread? Sure, let’s go with that. Anyway, the point is, it was an amazing experience that combined all of the things I appreciate about what the sandbox subgenre of gaming can be with a sense of humor that’s often missing from games and really shouldn’t be. Well, Deep Silver kind of ended up in the awkward position of buying out franchises late into their lifespans (and the lifespans of the respective console generation), so they’re sort of making up for that by rereleasing their two major franchise acquisitions, Metro and Saints Row on the current generation of consoles. What that means here is that we’ve got a shined up version of Saints Row 4, dubbed the Reelected edition, available for the Xbox One, so that if you missed it on the prior generation, you have another shot at it. Lest you think this solely a rerelease, however, Deep Silver has been nice enough to also pack it with the stand-alone DLC pack Gat out of Hell, which features an all new adventure starring Johnny Gat and Kinsey Kensington as they literally go to Hell, though not for the reasons you’d expect. With its $50 price tag (which breaks down to $20 for Gat Out of Hell and $30 for Saints Row 4: Reelected), you’re almost certainly wondering if the asking price justifies what you’re getting, especially if you bought the original release. Well, we’re here to help, so let’s take a look at what you get and see how it stacks up.
What if I don’t own any version of Saints Row 4?
Well, aside from the fact that that’s an incredibly depressing thing which you should probably rectify, click right here for my original review of the game, way back when it came out. Does that game sound appealing to you? If so, you should probably know that the game is still as much of a hoot as it ever was, but also runs at a much smoother rate due to the upgraded technology of current gen consoles, and has a decent visual upgrade to go along with it. The game holds up quite well on the Xbox One, and feels as slick as the original, but it’s almost certainly the best version technically; little tweaks have clearly been applied to the experience that make the visual clarity hold up better, keep the framerate more consistent, and just make the next gen versions of the game the best possible versions money can buy. The game is also astronomically fun, quite in-depth, and stuffed full of content that make this a sandbox game that’s worth exploring to the fullest. Combine that with the passionate and comedic plot, and if you haven’t played the game yet, you really need to; it’s one of those few games that fires on all cylinders, making for an experience that’ll let you pound the crap out of enemies one minute, race through the city the next, and perforate foes with gunfire the next, all with writing that’s just passionate enough to make sense and funny enough to make you spit up your donkey beer.
I don’t know if we’re still doing that but I don’t want to take any chances.
What if I do own the original release of Saint’s Row 4?
Well good on you! You clearly made a good decision when the game first came out. Well, as noted above, this is basically the definitive version of the game, featuring the best possible technical performance available for the game overall. That said, however, there’s also the matter of DLC, as Saints Row 4: Reelected comes with every single piece of DLC released for the game, including Enter the Dominatrix and How the Saints Save Christmas, and if you haven’t played those, you really should. From a cost perspective, the Season Pass content is only ten dollars less than the equivalent cost for the Reelected package, and you’re getting even more than that in the package. Put simply, you’d probably end up dropping around $70-80 on the available DLC, so if you haven’t picked up any of it yet, not only should you do so in general, but you’d certainly be doing yourself a favor by picking it up in the Reelected package, since you get basically all of it, plus more.
What if I do own Saints Row 4, and I bought the Season Pass?
Well, you almost certainly didn’t buy everything out there for the game, so again, it’s worth the asking price here to get everything in one package instead of picking up everything piecemeal. That said, even if you do have all the DLC, well, the game is still a huge load of fun to play through a second time, alone or with a friend around in co-op mode. Additionally, the game’s Achievements count separately from the original release, so hey, double Achievements if you’re into that sort of thing (and I certainly am), plus you get the ability to play around with all of the DLC from jump, which is almost certainly not a thing most people did, so you get to experience all of the additional powers, missions, weapons, costumes and more through the whole game. There aren’t a lot of games that really make a strong case for playing through them a second time, to be fair, and if you’re worn on Saints Row 4 it might be hard to come back to it a second time if you’ve seen and done it all. Still, I absolutely went through the entire game, including the DLC, the first time around, and I find that the jokes are still as hilarious the second time around, so if you do appreciate what the game does, even if you have seen it all, if you were looking to play it through a second time, you could do worse than earn a whole new cache of Achievements in the process.
What about Gat Out of Hell?
Gat Out of Hell is the biggest selling point here; at $20 on its own, it’s a pretty good part of the price of Reelected, and while you don’t have to buy the package to get Gat Out of Hell, whether or not it’s worth the asking price is going to be a big part of whether the package is worthwhile to many folks. The good news, yes, it mostly is worth the asking price, as it’s roughly about as in-depth as Saints Row 4, only in a compressed package. If you’ve missed out on everything about the DLC, the gist is this: due to a series of bizarre and unrelated events, Satan abducts the President, and Johnny and Kinzie have to go into hell to save them. Allies are made, songs are sung, damned souls are run over with cars, it’s basically a pretty good time all around. The game is using a lot of the same tech as the original game, and mostly seems to be using the same engine, so the visual and mechanical quality is identical to that of Saint’s Row 4, but it stands entirely on its own, in a new location, with new systems and new features to make it more than just a straight-up DLC product.
So what IS different?
Surprisingly enough, a lot, so buckle in for a bit. First off, the game takes place in Hell, which means that, while the characters make comparisons to Steelport when they see it (because of course), it’s an entirely different game world. It’s still comprised of five islands connected via bridges, but the physical and structural design of the world is significantly different; buildings are all new, as are layouts, and while some elements from Saints Row 4 remain (floating pillar lairs and platforms for instance), for the most part everything is pretty much its own unique thing. You’re not going to see a pirate ship or a castle in Steelport, for instance, let alone rivers of fire and strip clubs with thirty story, half-naked demon advertisements. This brings me to the other point about the difference between Saints Row 4’s Steelport and Hell: Hell has notably more personality overall, because it really gets to be its own thing, and a condensed version at that. Steelport kind of had to obey certain design rules, being a human city and all, meaning that it had a very Independence Day vibe, but it didn’t get to use the alien invader gimmick as much as it could have. Hell has no such restrictions, meaning that it’s a lot more bizarre and wacky, and it’s a lot more fun to cruise around and see what’s messed up or weird in Hell that wouldn’t have flown in Steelport.
Also, the gameplay mechanics, while similar in many respects, have some key differences that make Gat Out of Hell interesting on several levels. For one thing, early on in the game, you’re given Satan’s Halo as your means of causing super powered mayhem, which seems (at first) like a convenient method to give the characters the same powers they had in Saints Row 4. Volition didn’t just stick to that same power suite, though, and while some powers carry over (super speed, stomping powers, blasts), several were created all new just for this game. The biggest of the lot is full-on flight; while the President could glide places, in a manner similar to the protagonists of Prototype, Johnny and Kinzie can both fly using wings granted by the halo, meaning that they have far more mobility to work with. This changes the dynamic of the game a good amount; aside from the fact that races and transportation change a bit, flying is fun, on the same level as web-swinging in the Spider-Man games, and it easily beats out gliding as a super power of choice. You can literally fly around the entire city once you’ve powered up high enough, and that’s a significantly fun part of the game; just taking to the sky and dive-bombing locations or zipping through tunnels is joyous, and it makes the game feel notably different with just one simple change.
You also have some different combat options to work with here. For one thing, while Blast, Stomp and Buff return from the original game and retain similar functions (the default blast turns enemies to stone instead of freezing, for instance), the secondary and tertiary elemental effects are all new. You can get a vampiric effect or a “KNEEL BEFORE ZOD” effect for Buff, or a vacuum effect to Stomp, for example, which makes using these powers and their associated elemental variants more interesting than in the original game, since they don’t do the same things they used to. Further, while you’re losing out on Death From Above (sadly), Telekinesis (less so) and Force Field, you get a big new toy to replace them: Summoning. You can summon various small and large minions of Hell to do your fighting for you, so you can go into battle with a decent crew even though you’re in enemy territory. Also, while you can’t call up your crew to get busy, you can buy into the loyalty of the generic dead souls around Hell, and they’ll jump into battle on your behalf; they aren’t as good as a crew of your homies, but they can turn the tide of battle easily enough and the world can handle a lot of them at once so quantity over quality, basically. Finally, you’re also given all new guns to play with, including a set of guns based around the Seven Deadly Sins, which are mostly pretty absurd in their own right and well worth the time you spend to seek them out.
Besides that, the remainder of the variances are mostly minor. You can’t really summon up cars (though you almost certainly won’t care to) or homies, and while you can recruit allies to your cause, they mostly exist to give you missions and powers, not so much to aid you in battle. You’ll still be hunting down diaries and power orbs (Souls in this case), though the diaries also contain bits of Satan’s Lost Souls handbook, which reads like a messed up Hitchhiker’s Guide, and Souls no longer have multiple crazy collection methods, instead offering normal collection options as well as Souls that have to be collected in sequence to get a large amount at once. Many of the standard minigames are back as well, so you’ll be rampaging and surviving enemy waves with the best of them, though races are now entirely aerial in nature and trauma sequences have you control one of the damned souls as they attempt to… sue their way into Heaven? I think? Your allies also have specific missions they assign you that are unique to them, which involve hijacking trucks, opening treasure chests with hidden glyphs, and amusingly, beating the crap out of demonic fraternity members, so there’s some variance to go around. Finally, while you can’t make a character for this go-round, Johnny and Kinzie can both be used as desired; they play identically, so it’s really a matter of personal preference, though you’ll probably want to play as both, since they both make amusing observations about the world around them at certain points. Look for the Furry bar sign in particular for some fun dialogue. Just saying.
So it’s pretty good, then?
Oh certainly, though it’s not without its issues, as you’d expect. For one thing, the plot essentially amounts to “Go piss Satan off a lot,” which is fine up until the point when Satan actively starts messing with you, as the game quickly ramps up in difficulty at this point, and even on Casual (Easy) difficulty the missions associated with this thing are rough. Since you can essentially do the final mission literally whenever you want, there’s an odd sort of timeliness disconnect, as the lead-up storyline bits happen when the game says so, but you can do the final mission on your own time. This generally means that the final mission will most likely be a cakewalk if you do everything before jumping into it, but the time-sensitive missions won’t. Further, you can basically do almost everything there is to do in Hell inside of ten hours, unless you really want to get every Achievement possible, which will likely only add on another two or three hours to your play time, at the most. That’s not bad or anything, especially for the price, but you’ll have to decide if that’s worth the asking price, since you can probably clear the game’s storyline in six hours, and the rest of your time with the game will be spent collecting things and cleaning up odds and ends. On the minor complaints side, it’s weird that Kinzie is basically the catalyst of the story, but Johnny is really the important character here, as all of the major plot points revolve around him and only he can actively fight the final battle. Also, some of the minor side-quests are frustrating; collecting armored cars can be disgusting if a tank shows up since you have no car upgrade options and one tank shell will ruin the whole thing, and even having bought the collectible finder upgrade, finding some of them is nigh impossible because they’re located under other icons and are thus almost invisible. Oh, and while the game makes a big deal about the Seven Deadly Sins weaponry, some of them are a lot harder to find than others; the assault rifle has its own mission tied to it, while the pistol, melee weapon and shotgun are tied to side-quests, and the machine guns can just be bought as normal. However, the special weapon requires you to visit three specific locations around town that you wouldn’t identify as being “special” normally, and even after doing 88% of everything in the game I still never unlocked the rocket launcher. Making the best toys the most challenging to acquire makes sense, to be sure, but even then the best option is usually just running around and punching everything to death, so don’t make them too hard to find, y’know?
So is it worth the money?
Honestly, yes; Saints Row 4 Reelected on its own merits is worth the asking price because it’s a beefier version of the game that includes all of the DLC in one package, up-front for you to play with, allows you to unlock all of the Achievements again if you’ve played the game already, and honestly, still remains as much fun to play through the second time as the first. Gat Out of Hell, meanwhile, is a cheaper expanded add-on that has a lot of personality and charm, enough interesting variations to make it a real standalone experience, and enough depth and variety to justify its asking price with little effort. The overall package is the most technically proficient it’s ever been, as well, and between the punched up visuals and smoothed out technical functionality, it’s functionally sound and easy to work with, and I can honestly say that outside of some Xbox Live related issues, I never had a problem with either product. Saints Row 4 is still the same as it ever was, though, so if you’ve done literally everything you can with it and don’t care about Achievements Reelected may not be your thing, and Gat Out of Hell could stand some difficulty balancing and payoff adjustment (or at least some arrows in the right direction), but honestly, as remakes go, this one’s pretty good. If you missed out on Saints Row 4 or the astounding amount of DLC, Reelected comes easily recommended, and if you loved the original, Gat Out of Hell will give you everything you love, and more, in a compact, enjoyable package.
Short Attention Span Summary:
Taken purely on its own merits, Saints Row 4 Reelected/Gat Out of Hell is easily recommended. Saints Row 4 Reelected is a riot, full of scathing humor and fun gameplay, and it’s grand as it ever was, but stuffed full of all the DLC from the original in one convenient package. Gat Out of Hell, meanwhile, is a strong package that’s full of charm and wit, and it’s got a lot of new content and places to explore that make it worth checking out no matter how much Saints Row 4 you played. Both games are also at the top of their technical game on the Xbox One, and run smooth and clean with upgraded visuals and little to no technical issues, making this an even better package on the current generation. If you’ve beaten every last piece of candy out of Saints Row 4 like a tentacle bat to an incredibly weak piñata, and you don’t care about Achievements, you might find Reelected to be a bit unnecessary, and Gat Out of Hell could use some fine-tuning in its balance and payout in its fun toys. Still, for anyone who’s never played the original, or never got the DLC, Saints Row 4 Reelected/Gat Out of Hell is a cheaper overall package for a package that’s full of content, funny as hell, and easy to enjoy, and you’d be well advised to check out, sooner rather than later.