Gat Out of Hell picks up immediately after the conclusion of Saints Row IV. While using a ouija board during a surprise slumber party for Kinzie, the device spells out the name “Jezebel,” and a portal materializes and whisks The Boss (the character you designed in SR IV) away to Hell. After forcing the portal back open, Johnny Gat and Kinzie run in to save him, landing in the city of New Hades. After some exploring and finding the deceased Dane Vogel (Saints Row 2 throwback), they discover that Satan intends to force The Boss into matrimony with his daughter, named...(dramatic music)...Jezebel! No one is keen on this idea, including Jezebel, who is secretly in love with Nyte Blayde. Jezebel and Matt Miller would get along great.
In Gat Out of Hell you play as Johnny Gat or Kinzie (yay female characters!) and go around causing trouble in Hell to eventually get the attention of Satan, so you can shoot him in the face and save The Boss. There's a light story mode, and while it leads you into meeting some cool characters (Blackbeard, Vlad the Impaler, DJ Shakespeare), they mostly just send you to do small tasks and mini games. Similar to the "Loyalty Missions" in the previous Saints games. Besides a few boss battles, you spend MOST of this game is flying around and completing mini games. You just keep doing it until your "Satan's Wrath" meter gets high enough to show you've really got his attention. You can follow the story or just ignore it and fly around finding your own mini games until the meter eventually fills. So it's sort of a sandbox-y game. As you fill up your Wrath meter you'll trigger three major "events" which take you to a cut-scene to progress the story further. I guess this was because the creators knew the game was severely lacking story, because in one of the cut-scenes we're shown this guy:
That's Johnny Gat sitting in the Volition (creators of SR) office, scratching his head at the script, next to the games senior producer, Jim Boone. At least they're self aware, I guess.
The biggest and most obvious new feature in this game is the landscape of Hell. Saints Row: The Third takes place in the city of Steelport, then in Saints Row IV after Earth explodes, you're running around a simulation of Steelport that for the most part, looks exactly the same. So in Gat Out of Hell it's nice to finally be somewhere that bears no resemblance to Steelport. New Hades is run by Dane Vogel. Before his death, Dane was the chairman of Ultor, a corporation that wants to buy out...pretty much everything. Shortly after you arrive in Hell you find Dane and learn that he's started a new branch of Ultor in Hell ("Hell is what you make of it!"). Dane agrees to help Gat and Kinzie in their mission, so throughout the game you hear from Dane a lot as he teaches you the ins and outs of Hell. New Hades is also set up like a city, but like, hellish, I guess. You're surrounded by lava, demons and burning things.
Now let's talk about your new Arcane powers. Many are similar to the powers in Saints Row IV, but with a hellish twist. There are six different powers you earn and upgrade throughout the game: Blast, Summon, Stomp, Aura, Super Sprint, and Flight. It'll take a bit to explain each and every one, so here's a nifty little guide on the powers, if you're curious. Super Sprint and Flight are the most important. With Super Sprint you obviously run really fast, which is always helpful when you're battling demons and other underworld creatures, but the real fun is in Flight. Dane teaches Gat and Kinzie how to learn "Angelic Flight" which spouts giant angel wings from their backs. I had trouble getting the hang of flying at first, but after some practice it's easily the best part of the game. In Saints Row IV you had Super Jump and Glide, which was sort of like flying, but not super efficient. Now we have actual flying, and it's awesome!
The one thing I really missed in this game are the story missions. The side quests are alright, but in the Saints Row series they've always felt like filler (not terrible filler, but filler nonetheless). I mean no one's going to say that their favorite part of a Saints Row game was a side quest. I was going to go further in depth about this, but I read this interesting review on PC World that words it more eloquently so I thought I'd give them credit instead:
Each Saints Row game has a gaggle of side missions for you, and it even does that annoying thing where it forces you to play through those side missions for various rewards. But if I asked you to name your favorite Saints Row moment, you'd almost undoubtedly throw back a unique setpiece instead—blasting off on a missile while Aerosmith plays in the background, or recreating the movie They Live, or your character singing Biz Markie on the way to an objective, or the entirety of the "Deckers Die" mission in Saints Row the Third. The writing in Saints Row is its strength. It's sharp. It's smart. It's silly. It's lewd. It breaks the fourth wall. It's unique. It's weird. It's absurd. Whatever adjective you'd use to describe it, it's the situational comedy in Saints Row that stands out. Gat Out of Hell has no real missions, and thus a lot of its potential is wasted. For instance, you meet Blackbeard, famed pirate and scourge of the seven seas. He lives on a recreation of the Queen Anne's Revenge. In Hell. In a real Saints Row game (read: not an expansion) this would be the start of a fantastic line of quests, perhaps culminating in your sailing the Queen Anne's Revenge into a statue of Satan or fighting Blackbeard in a beard-growing contest or hell I don't know. Anything. Maybe you'd sing a rousing sea-chanty version of Biz Markie together. In Gat Out of Hell, by contrast, you have one sort-of mission with Blackbeard. Imps (the easiest enemies in the game) are invading and you have to kill a certain number. That's it. It takes five minutes, and doing so unlocks one of your superpowers (Summon Imps) and gives you a new Blackbeard Loyalty mission. The loyalty missions are the same as they were in Saints Row IV—complete side quests. Then you finish those side quests and Blackbeard goes "Great, thanks for doing that," and then you basically never hear from Blackbeard again." - source
So to wrap everything up, below is my quick list of pros and cons on Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell, but first let me say this - If you're a long time fan of the Saints then I definitely think this game is worth the $20, even if you're just playing to see some of your favorite characters again. Also, Steam has it on sale alot so chances are if you're patient you can get it for cheaper.. While it's obviously a much smaller game I still felt like I got a good amount of game time out of it, though I know this is different for everyone. I like to take my time with games (seriously, I take forever) and between working/blogging/whatever else I had to do, I finished the "story mode" in a few days. But with the sandbox aspect of the game there's still a LOT of stuff left to do in there. So ANYWAY, here's my list, and maybe it can help you decide for yourself if this is the game for you.
- Lack of traditional story mode missions.
- Andrew and I were having some issues with the co-op, but I decided not to go super in depth about this because I've looked online and it seems like no one else is having the same issue.
- No licensed soundtrack. For most games this wouldn't bother me, but in the Saints Row series it makes a noticeable difference!
- New and unique world (sorry, Steelport, you were getting old).
- Interesting new characters...even if they're not being used to their full potential.
- Playing as Gat and Kinzie. This is a bonus for me because aside from The Boss, they're my two favorite characters.
- Creative and fun new weapons, which are AWESOME. For some of the weapons you're required to collect the pieces first, but trust me, it's worth it.
- Musical cut scene. I'm a sucker for anything musical-when-it-usually-isn't. And just musicals in general.
I hope you enjoyed my review! I'm closing with my favorite picture from the game, which I wasn't able to use anywhere else in this post because it's from the first five minutes of the game, before Gat and Kinzie even get to Hell, so it's not really relevant to anything, hahah. It's from Kinzie's surprise birthday party :)
Have you played Gat Out of Hell, or any of the other Saints Row games? Tell me what you think!