The game where Volition politely tells Saints Row fans to go to hell.
I am something of a fan of the Saints Row series. I convinced EBongo that he should pick up Saints Row 2 and play it with me, despite the fact that it was an older game and it didn't look that interesting to him. We had a blast, and it was a no brainer for us to co-op both Saints Row: The Third and Saints Row 4.
I tend to end up flying solo when it comes to the DLC, though, but I find myself generally so enamored with the series that I'm willing to take that hit in order to get 100% completion. I'm not going to lie - the DLC is often pretty bad in comparison to the base games. There have been a few good moments here and there, sure, but mostly it's not nearly as entertaining.
Another disappointing element of the series is the tendency to recycle. Saints Row 4 reused the entire city of Saints Row 3, along with a lot of other smaller elements. It added a few new features, and generally speaking streamlined the experience with more of a focus on fun and less focus on things that classically cause issues in open world games. There was also a reliance on side activities to take the place of things that would normally be plot missions.
Saints Row: Gat out of Hell falls afoul of both of these issues, unfortunately. It's technically DLC in standalone form. While it brings an all-new map to the game, it's fundamentally similar to the Steelport map used in SR3 and SR4. There are "halo powers" here that are fundamentally similar (or downright identical) to the super powers from SR4. The plot is told mostly through cutscenes and major plot missions boil down to completing the open world side missions.
There is a set of new weapons on offer, but they all manage to be overpowered in certain ways and underwhelming in others. For instance, there is a "sloth" themed machine gun that does good damage and can fire rockets, but it (appropriately) keeps you from using your super sprint while using it.
Since every weapon has a chance to be ridiculous when upgraded, the offensive halo powers seem doubly redundant. It's not a matter of if I'm going to win against an opponent, it's just a matter of what grisly fate will befall them and how long it will take.
A lot of the challenges surrounding the main game also feel like they've not been scaled properly to the size of the game. Every weapon has a kill challenge associated with it, but playing the game is only going to give you a tiny fraction of the kills you need. Completing the challenges ends up being a grindfest of epic proportions.
I've spent paragraphs now outlining all the ways in which Gat out of Hell has disappointed. Still, I can't hate this game. It's still Saints Row. That means it's still one of the most fun open world experiences available, in my opinion.
The new flight ability feels awesome, and jetting around the map feels right. The "hellblazing" side activity that takes advantage of this new power is probably my favorite implementation of racing the series has had to date. Small cluster collection challenges dot the map that give you another excuse for precise flying.
A few of the rough edges in SR4 have been filed off, as well. Fighting the top tier enemies is now not a button mashing QTE, for instance.
Every time I see Volition release a DLC with a few new, interesting ideas, I wonder what they could produce if they were to collect these developments into a complete experience rather than serving them as side dishes to go with reheated leftovers from their last game.
In the end, I'm left feeling lukewarm about Gat out of Hell. It's probably one of the better DLC packs Saints Row has had so far, but it feels like it falls short of the potential of the series. If you're a fan of the franchise, you'll get your $5 worth out of it, but it's hard to recommend to anyone other than enthusiasts or for more than a deeply discounted price.
(Cult of the Fiver is my monthly series on great games that can be had for cheap. Want to stay on top of all our recommendations? We have a Steam Curation Page! In Pre-Cult articles, I collect my thoughts about a game I plan to feature in this month's entry.)