We might have been a tad harsh on Saints Row IV when it was first released. It sat finely balanced between two scores, and we went lower because of the recycled content, but thereafter kind of wished we'd gone the other way and been more positive because of the comedic side of the game, and the sense of play that veins through the whole sordid encounter.
The Re-Elected package that we have in front of us allows us to rectify that slightest of misjudgments, because Saints Row IV is back and it's better than ever. The game is much as it was when we reviewed it on PC back in 2013. This time it comes with a few additions that flesh out the experience a little, most notably - but only for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 - the new standalone expansion Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell.
Add to that the Enter the Dominatrix and How the Saints Save Christmas missions, plus a load of cosmetic items, and you've got a complete package. PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 owners can get Gat out of Hell, they just have to buy it separately, so perhaps those versions don't represent the same value pound for pound, but the current-gen editions are definitely easy to recommend.
If you're blissfully unaware of what Saints Row IV is, it's an open-world adventure rammed full of parody and ridiculousness. Playing as the Boss - now the President - the player must save the world after an alien invasion. The game flicks between the real-world missions with the Boss and an ensemble cast of characters all based on a spaceship, and missions in a Matrix-styled simulation whereby the player is given ridiculous superpowers and is invited to tear it up.
The world is rammed full of activities and distractions to keep you amused, and while these are mostly entertaining, it's the campaign story that is the undoubted star of the show. All of what made it so funny the last time around is still present, from the hilarious set pieces through to the stellar use of music. It's one of the funniest games we've ever played, and Volition lands punchline after punchline thanks to some stellar voice-over work.
The thing that most people are wondering is whether, from a technical perspective, it's an improvement or not, and the answer to that question is yes. This is a solid update. It looks good, similar in quality to the PC version (but much improved on the old-gen versions), and has a steady frame rate that feels consistent throughout. There's nice detail in the world, and the quality of the art design is such that it doesn't matter that this isn't the most beautiful of games.
The new missions fatten up the offering a little, and the Gat out of Hell expansion is a definite plus. That said, if you played the old-gen version to death, it might be better just grabbing the standalone as a download, because content-wise there's not a huge amount to separate Re-Elected from the original. The extra missions are relatively short, and cosmetic options don't do a whole lot to alter the experience.
To sum up, if you've played Saints Row IV before, then bear in mind that the punchlines don't hit home with the same impact the second time around, and there's less reasons to jump back in for the long haul. However, if you've yet to sample the delights of SRIV, absolutely go out and buy Re-Elected today: it's the definitive version of a really entertaining open-world game, and there's plenty of content here to keep you engaged for many, many hours.
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