Posted by Pip
F179- Time After Time
The Sins always find a way to angry up the blood! And it seems like these old gods are scattered not only across this new world but the realms themselves.
Quick Critique: Saints Row 4 / Gat Out Of Hell
I already reviewed base Saints Row 4 and it's still fantastic but still not as good as SR3. I picked up Gat Out Of Hell as part of a bundle for super cheap and it was a good way to re-experience the game. I hadn't played any of the DLC missions so I stopped by to do all of those first and got sucked into finishing SR4 from start to finish again. The port on the base game seems exactly the same as I remember SR4 on the PS3 being, right down to the same audio glitch where every time I start the game, it replays Kinsey's audio log about Oleg to the game constantly crashing if you have the radio playing. It handles unlocking the DLC in an odd fashion. You don't get anything from the start and have to play through all of the opening bits until you get the ship and the first gateway into the simulation, which makes sense, and then a message pops up saying that you've unlocked all of the DLC. Only, you haven't. None of the items are in your inventory and none of the missions are ready. You have to quit the game and relaunch it, and then you get the outfits and the power modifiers and the Enter the Dominatrix mission line. Around 35-ish% of the way through the game, the Saints Save Christmas mission line suddenly became available. I tend to waste a lot of time doing side missions and collecting things in SR, so maybe it would have popped faster if I was mainlining the story? All the extras are pretty underwhelming. You have:
Weapons- You get some new weapon skins, a remixed version of the Dubstep gun, and I think a plunger gun (don't remember that one) but I still preferred the stock weapons and they're the ones that count towards the challenges.
Power modifiers- All your power types get Explosion and Bling variants which makes things explode or consume Cache to do more damage. All the in-game challenges are tied to the normal powers, so I stuck with the stock powers again.
Costumes- They don't really look THAT much different than what you can normally buy. What annoyed me the most was that you can't mix and match them. Either you equip the entire costume or you don't wear it at all, instead of the game letting you pick to wear the top and then you swap out the bottom, etc. I did get to run around fake-Steelport with the Boss dressed like a saloon gal, so that seems pretty okay.
Enter the Dominatrix
This mission line is a really keen idea on how to leverage cut content or ideas. I'd love to see more games package actual cut content up with commentary and present them to players. Just get it to a state that it doesn't crash and let players explore what's there and I would gladly throw down a few dollars to experience that in games I liked. Something similar to what Insomniac used to do with the Museums in the original Ratchet games. Everything surrounding the content is great but the missions themselves are pretty bad. They almost all amount to "kill a bunch of enemies to move to the next room". It's buggy but not in a way that seems like it's related to it being "cut" content. Enemies just won't take damage at times, but they're all enemies that are in the normal game so it doesn't make sense. The writing is pretty bad too, so if this actually was the original plan to be an expansion pack to SR3, I'm very very glad we got the Zin story for SR4 instead. It leans almost entirely on the dominatrix and juvenile sex humor thing. Saints Row is great because it uses the lowbrow jokes as a springboard for some great commentary and real humor, but this DLC is just the lowbrow bits. It's a shame too, because the setup around the content is great. It's fun seeing the game characters as "actors" and lets them act different from how they do in the actual game. There's just something fun about seeing Pierce and Matt be giddy talking to each other.
How The Saints Save Christmas
The writing is great, it puts you in fun scenarios, and you get a bunch of fun-dumb items, so this is far more what I'd expect from a Saints Row DLC mission set. The Boss's uncharacteristic grumpiness about the holidays helps set it apart from the normal content and they do a great job of cramming in references to Xmas movies and even let you shoot your own eye out. The main plot has a real Futurama vibe to it with the evil Santa and robot reindeer. The Genki bonus missions are dumb but I didn't care for the Mind Over Matter missions to begin with so that was expected. The Santa bonus missions aren't great, but they're good enough and the writing is funny, so they're worth playing. As a bonus, they count towards your Challenge log for the vehicular missions. The Santa missions are pretty easy, so it's a nice shortcut to filling out the gold medals needed for the unlocks. I don't know if that was intentional or not, but it's appreciated.
Gat Out of Hell
I think I've mentioned this in every Saints review, but it's well worth reiterating: I hate Johnny Gat. While there is something pretty darn good about watching Gat threatening a board game with a gun in the opening, they wisely let you switch your character to Kinsey after the tutorial (but then force you to play Gat in the finale). The rules of Hell are very much the rules from Ugly Americans. I think I would have liked this game better if it WAS an Ugly Americans game instead of a Saints game, because it could have been a darn good UA game instead of a fairly disappointing Saints game. A lot of it is different but not necessarily better. Instead of gliding like in SR4, you actually fly with wings, but it controls like a plane and it's not very fun. You also get analogues for the super powers from 4 but they're mostly the same (ice Blast becomes stone Blast, etc). Side missions don't feel cohesive in any way and they also don't lead into each other from a UI/gameplay standpoint. You have to manually enter the Quest log and select the next step of the chain. It's small but an annoying change or bug. Some persistent camera issues also cause problem with keeping your view in place or trying to move the camera when flying in ways that SR4's gliding never had. The hit detection on collectibles can be really picky so if you juuust miss one and have to loop around, it's often better to really overshoot it and double back because the camera when flying cannot handle tight movement and fast view changes. The game isn't well put together on top of all its presentation issues. One of the side activities is to ride in an explosive car, but the second you hit something, the game locks up and crashes back to the PS4 menu. It eventually stopped crashing at the end of the game, but I started to run into other random crashes just moving around the city. Any time you collect a group of clusters or complete anything, manually save!
The biggest problem is that the game just isn't fun to play. Driving sucks because the ground randomly shakes or your vehicles crash into invisible objects or tiny bumps on the road and drastically veer off course and the enemy vehicles don't have any weight so they slip and slide around the road, despite being giant monster trucks. Flying isn't fun to begin with and then the game pops up a slew of missile towers that you disable by standing next to them and holding a button but every time you get shot you drop out of it and the game constantly summons an unlimited number of enemies so there's almost always something shooting you. You're constantly forced into story missions and you're not allowed to cancel them unless you quit the game and reload it. Your notoriety meter never fully goes away in some areas so enemies are always constantly attacking you, but sometimes if you quit the game and relaunch it, your wanted meter will go down. You're a lot more fragile and without the quests/Saints Book objectives that generate money over time like in SR 3 and 4, grinding out upgrades for weapons is really boring. The story missions mostly boil down to tedious objectives while the game spawns an infinite number of enemies. The world just isn't interesting to play in since it's always on fire and there are few colors other than red or brown everywhere. You can't customize your character since you're not playing as the boss, but they don't even let you change outfits. And there's no radio and almost no music in the game!
In SR 3 and 4, I completed everything 100%. For Gat, all I have left in the game is busy work/time wasters. I completed all of the story and side missions so there's no longer a real way to earn money so the way to complete the "Upgrade every weapon" challenge is to stand around fighting grunt enemies for hours on end. There's a trophy for spending 20 hours playing the game, but I'm done with with all the activities with 8 hours left to fill with nothing. At least one of the trophies can be missed if you don't read all the trophy descriptions before beating the game (which I don't do and there's no reason you would think to do the task it wants you to). There's even a trophy for spending several hours in co-op, but now that Sony charges you to play in co-op, I'm certainly not paying to get that trophy.
"The Saints visit Hell" is a fantastic premise for a video game but Gat Out of Hell just doesn't capitalize on it well and is poorly put together. There are some great one liners and some good moments or gags, but it's probably best left for only the most die-hard Saints fans or picking it up in a cheap bundle like I did. If you've never played SR4, get the bundle and enjoy the crap out of the main game, but consider the DLC as nothing more than a bonus. I don't know what's in store for the Saints Row franchise, but I totally want more of it. Gat Out of Hell's ending plays with the idea that nobody really knows what to do with the franchise. The series has built up from you being a grunt to becoming the leader of the gang in SR1, to leader of a city and a corporation in SR2, to a leader of another city and crime syndicate/leader of a seceded country in SR3, to President/God Lord Emperor to time traveler to friend of the raptors and Santa in SR4, so where do they go from here. GOoH proposes a reboot where the Saints are on the side of the law and become gritty TV detectives and I want that. Badly. But the game has to be well made. No more bugs like this: