I’ve enjoyed revisiting some of the last gen’s classic games on my PlayStation 4. The likes of Grand Theft Auto V, The Last of Us Remastered and Metro: Redux have blown me away with their ultra-polished visuals.
Well, now it’s Saints Row’s turn with Saints Row IV: Re-Elected and Gat out of Hell for Xbox One and PS4.
Back in 2006, those dark days before Rockstar unleashed Grand Theft Auto IV into the world, THQ’s Saints Row provided Xbox 360 owners, exclusively, with an almost perfect substitute.
Saints Row had all the violence and the humour of GTA, but without the subtlety. For me it was like a hugely enjoyable direct-to-video rip-off of Rockstar’s classic crime franchise.
As the series progressed, developer Volition has moved to make its Saints Row games less and less derivative of GTA. Instead they have became more of their own man, much more absurd and rather famously, very vulgar.
So here we are with Saints Row IV: Re-Elected and the Gat Out of Hell standalone expansion that forms this epic package. With all the DLC from the original last-gen game plus some (moderately) updated visuals, I’ll tell you right now that you certainly get your money’s worth.
For this forth outing the titular 3rd Street Saints, formally a bunch of purple-clad gang-bangers, have managed to install themselves in the White House. The Boss is now President of the United States of America but still a card carrying member of the gang. Things couldn’t get better for the Saints.
But they could get a whole lot worse.
Cue the alien invasion and the abduction of The Boss (the player) and his (or her) insertion into a strange Matrix-style version of Steelport, the city from the third game. With the help of Kinzie Kensington, the Saints' computer hacking specialist, The Boss must crash the simulation and put an end to the alien warlord, Zinyak’s plans.
As this is just a simulation the sky’s the limit, so instead of being just an over-the-top GTA clone the game becomes more of a superhero affair with the protagonist developing powers that enable him to jump, wall run and, to a certain extent, fly.
By casting off the shackles of the series’ original premise, Saints Row IV takes the franchise in a new and remarkably fresh direction. All the usual activities are here. You can still jack cars and terrorise the civilians, but you can also take on digital recreations of Zinyak’s minions and a host of other activities designed to throw the alien’s simulation into chaos.
It really is nice to see the developers take a series that started out as no more than a GTA clone and take it in a madcap direction of its own.
PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners also get an added bonus with the included Saints Row IV standalone expansion. Also available as a digital download, Gat out of Hell is a direct epilogue to the events in the main game. Following a bit of miss-adventure with a Ouija board once belonging to the infamous occultist, Alistair Crowley, Johnny Gat and his companion Kinzie find themselves sent down to hell where they must try to rescue the President before he is married off to Satan’s daughter.
Interestingly, Hell looks surprisingly like an American city, but with more flames and demons. Like the main Saints Row IV, players are given upgradable superpowers to shake things up.
The premise is paper thin and only exists as a justification to unleash mayhem. Again, it’s dumb escapism. But still it’s oh so satisfying. Gat out of Hell is also a bit short, but when viewed as an extension of the main game, it’s not bad and provides a nice encore.
There’s no doubt that Saints Row IV Re-elected is fun to play and with Gat out of Hell thrown in it is a pretty good deal. The graphics upgrade is, however, barely noticeable compared to other HD remasters. Whilst it may be fun it’s also a bit dumb, with humour that is know where near that is its kindred spirits- the GTA games.
Fans that have been struggling with the series’ turn towards the absurd may find this outing a real turn off as any seriousness that the previous games may have had is completely missing this time out. Still, this is easily the best game in the series so far and it’s great that new-gen players can now get the chance to give it a go.
Even though I can think of countless other last-gen games that I’d prefer remastered over Saints Row IV, I had a lot of fun with this remaster. If you like OTT humour and have not already played the game, before I’d recommend Saints Row IV: Re-elected.