Like a Gat Outta Hell I’ll be gone when the morning comes…or in four hours, when you complete this game.
After the funtastic voyage that was Saints Row IV, my faith in the series was restored. So when Gat Out of Hell, a series spin-off, appeared on sale on Steam, I didn’t hesitate to buy it. If you have played any previous Saints Row game, particularly IV, then you will have an understanding of what the gameplay entails: open world sandbox, lots of crazy guns and super powers. Gat Out of Hell sets off after IV concludes. At the celebration of Kinzie’s birthday party, the Boss is suddenly sucked into a warping vortex and transported to Hell to marry Satan’s daughter. Now it’s up to Johnny Gat and Kinzie to save him/her. As a nice addition, if you have any Saints Row IV data saved on your computer, the Boss will look like your playable character. The story itself will only take about three to four hours to complete…not very long at all. Fortunately, as with all Saints Row games, there are umpteen amounts of side quests…but not always for the better. The story as a whole is pretty funny, going as far as including a wonderful musical number. As you build up a plan to combat Satan, you’ll rally and encounter various deceased characters from previous games – although more could have been done with this – and notorious real life historical figures such as Blackbeard, Vlad the Impaler and, of course, Shakespeare. The cut scenes are also beautifully rendered, albeit with some minor texture issues. However, a lot of cut scenes seem to show what could have easily been a mission, for example, storming Satan’s stronghold. It’s a shame, as rendering these as missions would have provided a few more hours of gameplay, especially since many of the missions are copy-paste ‘go here, kill this, come here’ style. What’s also kind of annoying is that story missions are triggered by the amount of carnage you create in the streets. That is to say, you could be doing one of the many side quests when suddenly you are informed that you have peaked Satan’s interest and are suddenly transported into a story mission. Not a major issue, but a bit of a nuisance.
As mentioned, there is a large number of side quests (or ‘diversions’) to partake in too, such races, mayhem, insurance fraud etc…all the regular Saints Row kinda stuff, with a Hell-y twist. Accompanying these diversions are over a hundred challenges, providing some extra play time…if you’re a completionist. And I mean, a real completionist. Many of the challenges are merely “kill X enemies with weapon A”, “kill Y enemies with weapon B”, which is pretty darn tedious and boring if you ask me. Especially because killing a certain number of enemies triggers a mini-boss, whom when they are killed, removes all enemies from the area, meaning you have to build up more once again. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle, but will add a fair few more hours onto your playtime. There are also over 900 collectibles so…yeah.
As mentioned, gameplay follows what you would expect from Saints Row. Like IV, you unlock various super powers (or ‘halo powers’ in this one), allowing you to perform interesting Hell-themed elemental attacks and even fly. This, of course, makes cars completely useless, which is fine because the driving aspect of the game seems to have deteriorated even more since the previous instalment. The weapons are, of course, pretty brilliant. These range from locust shooting SMGs, lightning hammers, stake-shotguns and, naturally, an armchair-minigun-rocket-launcher. There are also seven special weapons embodying the Seven Deadly Sins, such as a flaming sword and compassion gun. You can imagine what that does.
You can switch up between Gat and Kinzie at any time during the game, however neither characters play any differently. The only difference is in the conversation. Sadly, this also means that Saints Row’s epic customisation has completely gone – there are no clothes shops, tattoo parlours or plastic surgeons. Despite this, the map is fairly large and, although black and bleak, seems to offer quite a variety of exploration. What was disappointing was discovering various huge tunnel ways under the setting city (New Hades), which has absolutely no use whatsoever.
Gat Out of Hell is a cool concept, and a nice addition to the Saints Row franchise. However, due to its short life and similarities to Saints Row IV, this feels more like DLC than an actual game in itself. For that reason, I couldn’t really recommend paying more than £10 or so for it, but if it appears on sale then definitely purchase it. If you enjoy the Saints Row games and what they have to offer, then this is a worthy addition to the library. To see my previous Saints Row IV review, click here.
Thanks 2K, but where’s all my new shit?
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! (exclamation mark included) is the latest addition in the family-friendly Borderlands series. AKA Borderlands 1.5, this game is set in between Borderlands 1 and 2. However, I will do my bestest not to include any spoilers for any of the three games in this here review. Holla. At time of writing, I have only played a couple o’ hours with a couple o’ characters with a couple o’ friends (and m’self), but I think that’s sufficient enough to warrant a ‘first impressions’ review, don’t you think?
First off, The Pre-Sequel!, whilst good, does just kind of feel like a Borderlands 2 DLC pack. Which isn’t a bad thing, considering Borderlands 2 is a brilliant game, but there just isn’t enough new/updated stuff to really advance the series. The bottom line is, The Pre-Sequel does everything right that Borderlands 2 did, but also suffers from the same wrongs. There. You can make your own judgement now. Go, fly on!
Still here? Thank you. That means a lot. Seriously. Ok, detail. So, what’s new? The Pre-Sequel starts off as the two previous Borderlands games did: choosing your character. This game has you choose one from four classes: Gladiator, Enforcer, Lawbringer and Fragtrap. What’s pretty cool is that all of these characters have appeared in some form in previous instalments: Athena, the Gladiator, made her debut in a DLC pack for Borderlands 1 as an NPC. Wilhelm the Enforcer and Nisha the Lawbringer both appear as enemies in Borderlands 2 (in one way or another), and the Fragtrap class is none other than that lovable robot Claptrap. There is quite a variety in classes – each character has their own unique skill command – though Wilhelm and Athena do seem somewhat similar, moreso than the other two, at least.. Athena uses her shield to absorb/dish our damage, Wilhelm summons two drones to aid him, Nisha can enter a Red Dead Redemption-style quick draw mode, and Claptrap….well, his takes a little explaining, and is definitely the most fun. Claptrap’s skill analyses the battlefield, taking into account how much ammo, how much health etc. you have, and grants some sort of boon to the party dependent on that – whether it’s having everyone enter a ‘funzerker’ mode (guns, guns, guns), or mimicking Krieg from Borderlands 2’s rampage skill, or giving the whole party rubber rings to…bounce with. Inevitably, more characters will be released as DLC, so I am curious to see where that goes. Additionally, each characters’ melee attack feels more unique than it did in 2 too. For example, Claptrap does a little punch, whereas Nisha uses her whip, which has a longer range but deals a bit less damage. Naturally, your real power comes from one of the bazillion zillion guns that you can pick up throughout your play through. Two new additions to your already well-endowed arsenal are laser and cryogenic weapons. The former, as you may have guessed, fire a barrage of lasers that slowly drain enemies’ health. The latter, as you may have guessed once again (you rascal) freeze your enemies, enabling you to shatter them with a mighty blow!
The story: As mentioned, The Pre-Sequel is set in between Borderlands 1 and 2, and depicts the rise of Borderlands 2 antagonist, Handsome Jack. As with previous Borderlands games, due to the sheer number of side quests, the main story can often be a bit ambiguous and confusing. Still, all in all it’s very funny, and I’m definitely interested to see where it goes. Borderlands 2 had some brilliant moments, particularly in its fantastic DLC, so I have…hopes for The Pre-Sequel. The game is set on Elpis, Pandora’s moon. As such, zero gravity plays a key role in The Pre-Sequel’s gameplay. You’re equipped with an oxygen pack (oz pack) that allows you to jump great distances, float a bit and even butt-slam down onto enemies below – which is pretty cool, because you can send them floating off into the infinity of space Malcolm Reynolds style. Watch out, ‘doe! If you use too much oxygen you WILL DIE. Unless you’re Claptrap. Because he don’t need no oxygen. This is a fun little addition that makes exploration and combat feel that teency bit fresher than it did in Borderlands 2.
As for newness, that’s about it really. Everything else – graphics and general gameplay etc.– are pretty much the same as they were in Borderlands 2. I mean, it all works brilliantly, and obviously the game features a fresh soundtrack and voice acting – but overall the game doesn’t really feel like an upgrade…just more of the same. The game still wonderfully blends RPG elements into the FPS genre, and for the most part, the script is pretty hilarious. I would say ‘don’t fix what isn’t broken’, which, you know, they haven’t…but they also haven’t fixed what is broken. There are a handful of glitches that I have already encountered, rendering a quest un-completeable. These are generally solved by exiting the map and re-entering, but in my fast paced adult life, I don’t have time for that! Also, the menu is still just as clunky as it was in 2. In fact, it’s exactly the same. Again, not game-breaking, just a small nuisance that I would have hoped they may have fixed. Lastly, the enemies feel quite repetitive. You seem to be fighting the same ones over and over again, with no real variety. Elpis is ok to explore, but has nothing on the design of Pandora in previous installments.
Overall, the game just feels like a big ol’, slightly unpolished DLC for Borderlands 2. It’s still fun, especially with friends, but Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! unfortunately lacks the innovation and originality to really make it stand out. I’ve clocked 100 hours on Borderlands 2…something that I just don’t see happening with The Pre-Sequel, sadly. If you’re new to the series, go and pick up Borderlands 2. If you really like it, give this a go, but spend your time over there first. I’ll be looking forward to the inevitable Borderlands 3 and TellTale Game’s Tales from the Borderlands…