A FRENETIC mash-up that takes the Saints Rows series to its illogical conclusion
Saints Row IV Re-Elected / Gat Out Of Hell
Platform: Xbox One (reviewed) / Playstation 4
ALTHOUGH they have long been unfairly cast in the shadow of Rockstar North’s Grand Theft Auto series, the Saints Row games have always offered up a pleasingly derivative twist on the open world formula. The hallmark of their evolution has been a tendency towards the ever more absurd, with outlandish events, mini-games and characters punctuating what could best be described as routine gameplay. The fourth iteration, however, abandons convention entirely, instead thrusting the Saints into a fantastical jumble of ideas and scenarios
Set around the characteristically implausible notion of the Third Street Saints assuming control of the White House, only to end up in an alien infested simulated version of Steelport city, it offers a frantic hyperreality that allows developers Volition to let rip with what feels like the game they have always wanted to make. This is a title that revels in big, broad brushstrokes, not details, and it although it can feel like a sugar rush at times, it possesses just about enough energy and wit to carry it off.
The game’s graphics feel dated, but detail matters little in a title of big, broad brush strokes
Visually, the game is no masterpiece, favouring a flurry of brash primary coloured mayhem over finesse. Despite nips and tucks for the next gen consoles, the character models remain rudimentary and the facial animations in particular stilted and inexpressive. For a game that looked distinctly dated upon its initial release in the late summer of 2013, it will win few awards for its aesthetics, even if such qualities have never been vital to the series.
Instead, the game’s emphasis is on letting the player loose in a sprawling playground and granting them turbocharged abilities, whether it be sprinting up the sheer face of skyscrapers or wielding a gun that fires pulses of energy to the beat of dubstep songs. Nuance, you might well have guessed by now, does not feature prominently. Indeed, this is a game that takes pleasure in mocking its medium, such as the Fable-esque moral quandary presented early on that asks you to use your presidential powers to cure cancer or end world hunger. Other pokes are aimed at Splinter Cell, Crackdown and Mass Effect to name but three.
The package can be erratic and inelegant but is nearly always fun
In addition to the main game, the standalone title of Gat Out Of Hell pits Johnny Gat in Hell - effectively, a cityscape with nods of the underworld about it. It is a breezy, derivative offering that is essentially a cluster of side quests rather than a campaign, but it is broadly welcomed in in an overall package that can be both erratic and inelegant, while providing much in the way of frivolous amusement.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
Don’t get frustrated early on at your cumbersome abilities. Keep playing and level up so you can wall run.
The super jump is a great way to bound around and can be charged by holding down the jump button when in mid-air.
If you find yourself swarmed by enemies, use super sprint to dart away to a safe point and pick off your attackers one by one.