Saints Row IV: Re-Elected PlayStation 4 Review
SRP: £29.99Of all the current trends on the modern generation of consoles, perhaps the most ubiquitous is the spruced-up re-release. In the past year alone PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners have been asked to re-purchase the likes of Tomb Raider, The Last of Us, Halo, GTA V, Metro 2033, Diablo III, Sleeping Dogs and more, while publishers get to bide their time and inject some much needed funds into their coffers with quick and dirty ports of their most beloved franchises.
It’s a difficult trend to pin down. Many of these games will find a fresh audience on new consoles and some definitely deserve to be played by as many people as possible (I'm looking at you GTA V and The Last of Us), but at the same time, the rest of the crowd often reeks of old technology shovelled into a box, mired in fuzzy texturing and inconsistent frame-rates as much as they are their last-generation design principles.
Saints Row IV, although not immediately as impactful as some of the games on the above list, at least makes the hardware jump as a title that badly needed better technology in order to succeed. The original game often struggled to match the ambitions of its superhero-inspired open-world gameplay on Xbox 360 and PS3, so the breathing room on PS4 and Xbox One should provide a better experience throughout.
Re-Elected?Of course, we've covered Saints Row IV previously on AVForums, and to save you reading through the same review twice, it’s safe to say I agree with the majority of the points in our original write-up. Re-Elected is essentially the same title bundled with both pieces of original DLC (“How the Saints saved Christmas”, and “Enter the Dominatrix”), along with the new standalone expansion “Gat out of Hell”, which I’ll cover in its own section below.
On replaying the Saints’ interstellar adventure however, I think I’d have happily given it a solid 8 rather than our original 7. This is a game that takes the ridiculous path carved out in Saints Row 3 and extends it to a place far beyond even the silliest of predictions, relying entirely on over-the-top superhero powers and silly jokes to carry it through 20 hours of mini-games, madcap missions and throwback references covering the entire series to date. In 2014 it comes across as a less serious version of Infamous: First Light’s collectible-based city traversal, except with swinging dildo bats and 80s power ballads replacing the concrete and Grungy angst of Delsin’s quest.
Saints’ Row 4 is ridiculously simple to completeIt’s an easy game to get lost in for hours at a time, and part of that is due to the low barrier to entry. Saints’ Row 4 is ridiculously simple to complete even on normal difficulty, with the majority of its quests and side-activities conquerable on first attempt. That’s no bad thing however, as the breezy nature of the content gives virtual Steelport a lovely flow; there’s always a cluster nearby to bounce up and collect, or a bevy of quick challenges that can be completed in a couple of minutes. The dangling carrot of the upgrade tree is suitably deep but broken down into sensible ability upgrades (I use “sensible” loosely), and that leads to a constant trail of experimentation and wanton destruction.
So yes, it is still an excellently enjoyable game to play through on PS4 and Xbox One, but the degree of enhancement will disappoint many.
Although the current-generation consoles are able to power virtual Steelport to a framerate that consistently runs north of 30, it’s still a way off the silky-smooth 60fps that PC owners are used to, and noticeably fluctuates as complex destruction and scenery explodes into view. There is a V-Sync option in the menu that should at least lock the action to a consistent 30fps, but for the life of me I couldn't see it making any actual difference during gameplay.
Regardless, Saints Row IV doesn't perform badly, but it’s more than a little disappointing that such a meagre increase was squeezed from the superior hardware. Other features such as the community download hub are entirely missing, while textures and lighting have only received the smallest of updates. If anything, Re-Elected highlights just how far open-world graphical tech has moved on in the short couple of years since release, and though it's still an absolute blast to play through, it’s definitely not a looker.
Gat out of HellThe second part of Re-Elected is “Gat out of Hell”, which is a brand-new standalone expansion (also available for download separately) that sees Johnny Gat and Kinzie Kensington dive into Satan’s underworld to rescue their recently-kidnapped President. Satan is all set to marry off his Jezabel to the recently-crowned leader, and of course this requires manual intervention in the form of Saints-style destruction, musical interludes, and a driveable armchair strapped with rocket launchers and a couple of gatling guns.
Hell itself is an entirely new location. It shuns Steelport’s digital makeover for glistening spires hewn from slabs of brown rock and rivers of lava, with a familiar grid-based city at its centre that bustles with walking corpses and rotting vehicles rolling around on autopilot. Both Kinzie and Johnny Gat are bestowed with the power of flight as soon as they touch down in this turgid landscape, with floating “clusters” providing the currency to level up a cut-down skill tree. Flying far above the rancid corpses feels great, with a limited number of flaps available to keep up your momentum and reach those seemingly-impossible peaks.
Like its sibling, Gat out of Hell’s map is chock-full of minigames and diversions that provide a neat breadcrumb trail across the landscape. Much of it is the same sort of throwaway fun too, presenting brief challenges that cover combat arenas, races, a variation of Insurance Fraud and a couple of new additions like collecting falling souls or an ill-advised attempt at single-player territories. As such, it’s all too easy to fall into the same sort of trance-like loop with dealing with Gat’s content, working your way around the city, hoovering up map icons, currency and upgrades as you go.
Completing the whole lot will take around four to five hours, but once you’re done, that’s it. An overall completion bar trickles up the more of those activities are completed, with a final battle with Satan triggered after the first few hours.
There are no traditional story missions to help break up the pace, with the entirety of Gat’s tiny amount of plot delivered through static comic-book cut-scenes or - in one glorious instance - a musical interlude that was unfortunately released as part of the PR campaign a few weeks ago. There are huge missed opportunities too. Hell is home to a few notable souls such as William Shakespeare and Vlad the Impaler, but they act only as side-quest hubs with a couple of brief cut-scenes and comedy weapons attached. The missions they send you are brief, and almost entirely comprised from standard content dotted around the map.
All of which is a bit of a shame. Gat out of Hell’s premise is a brilliant set-up for what could have been another great chunk of Saints Row silliness, but it feels as if Volition carved out the map, filled it with side content and then ran out of money to implement any of their campaign. That being said, the brief snippets of storyline that exist are still fun, and there are a couple of jokes that will land hard for those of you that played through Saint’s Row 3 and IV. There just needed to be a whole lot more.
- Breezy, fun
- Better framerate
- All the DLC
- Silly destruction
- Not near 60fps
- Minimal graphical upgrades
- Missed opportunities
Saints Row IV: Re-Elected PlayStation 4 ReviewSpending a little more time with the cast of Saint’s Row was always going to be a welcome experience on new-generation hardware, but it’s hard not to see Re-Elected as something of a missed opportunity. There’s little of the spit and shine that many fans would have wanted, while Gat out of Hell is a brilliant concept that unfortunately falls flat on execution. It feels like another remaster that could have used a little longer in the oven.
The original Saints Row IV is still an excellent game however, and it’s worth noting when considering the score attached to this review. Re-Elected might not address all of that game's technical flaws, but it does at least offer up full playable framerates this time around. The storyline takes some trademark ridiculous twists and turns, while the conclusion will leave you wondering exactly how Volition intends to move the series forwards.
So when all's said and done, if you've never played Saints Row IV and don't own a PC, there's no better way to experience that universe than with Re-Elected on either PS4 or Xbox One. Those of you looking to double-dip however, just be wary you'll be re-treading ground that's only marginally cleaner than before.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £29.99
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