Saints Row: Gat Out Of Hell review for PS4, Xbox One

Platform: PS4
Also On: PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Volition/High Voltage
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes

I always felt a little puzzled last year any time I read or heard people declaring games like Destiny or Watch Dogs to be the worst of the year. After all, I played both, and even if I didn’t love either of them, I still know that I played all kinds of games that were far, far worse.

Now that I’ve played Saints Row IV: Gat Out of Hell, however, I kind of get where those people were coming from. Am I going to play objectively worse games this year? Undoubtedly. Am I going to play games that leave me feeling more enraged? Barring Arkham Knight, Hotline Miami 2 or Uncharted 4 being complete and utter catastrophes, I have a hard time seeing it.

Saints Row IV Gat 3

Of course, I suspect that my reason for hating Gat Out of Hell is pretty much the exact opposite of why some people hated Destiny or Watch Dogs so. As I understand it, people were disappointed because, while technically sound (for the most part), the ideas in those games were kind of bland. In Gat Out of Hell’s case, by contrast, ideas aren’t the issue. Like the last few games in the series, Gat Out of Hell is bursting with creativity. It’s got talking guns, it’s got Shakespeare and Vlad the Impaler (among others) as your demonic allies, it’s got you running around Hell with the same kind of superpowers you had in Saints Row. Heck (or, I guess, Hell), it even has a musical number that a) wouldn’t be out of place in a Disney movie (albeit some kind of weird, R-rated Disney movie) and b) suggests that the Bollywood number that was allegedly going to be the finale of Saints Row IV would’ve been amazing.

No, the issue with Gat Out of Hell is that it’s kind of a buggy mess. Enemies floating in mid-air — and not just the winged demons, but bad guys who aren’t supposed to be able to fly, too. Guns that are impossible to pick up. Things — demons, damned souls, vehicles — walking through walls. Pre-rendered killing animations where you’re several feet away from the bad guys being killed — which is to say, Johnny Gat/Kinzie are doing their thing, the kill-ees are doing theirs, but the two don’t exactly match up. Vehicles that don’t do what they’re supposed to do — by which I mean sometimes they’ll suddenly veer across the screen for no reason whatsoever, while others they’ll just get stuck, and you have to wait for the game to realize you are, in fact, still holding down that accelerator button.

Saints Row IV Gat

Even the ragdoll physics don’t totally work right. The ragdoll physics! There were numerous times when I was playing Gat Out Of Hell where I’d be in an exploding vehicle, or I’d be crushed by an exploding vehicle, or I’d be getting shot at from all sides, but rather than flopping about hilariously, I’d just sort of slide, and then suddenly be back on my feet again.

And while I’m in a complaining mood, I have to say that the game’s portrayal of Hell kind of sucks. It’s got fire and brimstone everywhere, and it has a couple of really cool, demonic-looking areas. But for the most part, Gat Out Of Hell’s Hell is just a dank, drab, grey place. Generally, it’s hard to distinguish one area from another, because they all look so similar. For a series that’s been built on an outlandish, gaudy world, you’d think that Hell of all places could really inspire Saints Row’s designers to new artistic heights, but…nope.

Saints Row IV Gat 2

What really pisses me off about it all is that Gat Out Of Hell could’ve been awesome. It’s no crappy cash-in, featuring a warmed-over plot or a world indistinguishable from the original game. This is a fully fleshed-out game, with all the ideas and inventiveness that you’d expect from a Saints Row game. All that it had to do, technically-speaking, was live up to the standards set by Saints Row the Third and Saints Row IV.

But it doesn’t. Gat Out Of Hell is a buggy, glitchy mess, and there’s no getting around the fact it could — and probably should — be way better than it is.

Grade: C-