From the looks of things, the folks at Volition Inc. were having a B-movie marathon when they came up with the idea for their second set of Saints Row: The Third downloadable content. Entitled, Gangstas in Space, this new three mission story arc sees the leader of the Third Street Saints cast as the star of a terribly cheesy science fiction film. Anyone familiar with this outrageous series and its lack of seriousness will know what to expect, because this isn’t your typical Hollywood production. In fact, if it were real, film critics would be outraged. As a result, it’s the perfect type of celluloid fiction for THQ‘s hilarious crime sandbox.
In their third outing, the purple-clad gang is at the top of its game until a poorly-planned heist goes awry. Even then, their celebrity status never really fades from the public’s memory. Due to that recognition, it’s no surprise that one of the group’s own has received interest from a low-budget film that just so happens to be looking for a name to attach itself to. Your created character is the director’s first choice, although it becomes evident that he really had no idea of what he was getting into by sending out that request. Things start off relatively well, but stuff eventually starts to hit the fan once the film’s green co-star becomes the target of some terribly insulting criticisms. Somehow, the Steelport film industry has allowed an arrogant and downright evil man to direct its stable of potential stars.
With Gangstas in Space being a cash-strapped production, its location scouting department had to make good use of the local city, instead of manufacturing expensive sets. Luckily, the terribly-written script supports that, as it features some sort of an alien invasion on Earth. To be honest with you, I found it hard to grasp the minute details. One scene would lead to another in a way that made a bit of sense, but the movie’s plot happened to be full of plot holes. That’s the charm, however. It wouldn’t be Saints Row content without nonsensical, weird and over-the-top fiction. All I can really tell you is that you’re battling against those aforementioned invaders with the help of one of their own, who must be protected at all costs. As you can surely gather, the plot isn’t an important aspect. Instead of going for a quality approach, the writing team obviously took notes from Michael Bay‘s celluloid portfolio.
The entire filming process is documented over a few different missions, which end up taking about an hour to play through. At the beginning, players must deal with an unsatisfied director, while invading a familiar army encampment to save a troubled alien princess. Next is a medley of scenes which take place inside of an alien ship which must be destroyed, complete with many blue-skinned Amazon females who happen to have laser blasters. Then, you have a concluding chase through the streets of Steelport – a city that has seen its skies fill up with extraterrestrial aircraft. It’s all presented in a half-assed manner, using the tone that this series is known for. Generally speaking, that idea was a good one, as the creation of a cheesy movie is right up the Saints’ lowbrow alley.
Despite the new scenario type, the featured missions play out much like parts of the game’s main campaign. There’s a lot of shooting, some flying, aerial hacking while hovering and a turret section, along with crude one-liners and heat-filled explosions. Though it would have been nice to have received something new and exciting from Gangstas in Space, its lack of innovation isn’t a terrible thing by any means. The included content is still fun and colourful, despite its noticeable lack of originality in the gameplay department. Being a Saints Row: The Third fanatic, I enjoyed my time with this add-on because it was lighthearted and entertaining. This isn’t your run of the mill downloadable content pack, nor is the core experience your run of the mill sandbox game. Everything the Saints do has their unique touch on it, and this is no different. That’s why beating the arc gifts players with weird vehicles, a brutish alien ally and an aspiring actress on speed dial.
Over the course of your hour long investment, some comical writing and a relatively interesting storyline will keep your mind on campy science fiction cliches. There are some neat Easter eggs hidden throughout, providing a fun chance to sleuth through sets that other Steelport television shows have used. One just so happens to be from a well-known THQ series that was cancelled late last year. Having invested over thirty hours into the content on the game’s disc, I enjoyed looking around for inside jokes and things of that nature. Of course, the six hidden clipboards also provided a good reason to search every nook and cranny.
If there’s one major letdown here, it comes at the hands of a clock. When THQ released Genkibowl VII, the first set of major downloadable content for this game, it felt on the short side. Sure, that pack was only made up of activities, but there still could have been more length there. It seemed like Volition had released it to tie us over until a larger piece of additional digital meat was released. My hope was that it would be Gangstas in Space and that it would give us at least two to three hours of mayhem to laugh through. However, this release is almost exactly as long as its predecessor. What’s there is pretty fun, albeit rather safe in terms of mission structure, but I don’t think it’s wrong to have expected some more for the seven dollar price tag. Thankfully these three missions are humorous, entertaining and stylish enough to warrant a second play through. It’s especially fun to pick off the cameramen, which elicits negative reviews from the always-vocal director.
This epic masterpiece of extraterrestrial proportions is brought to us in filmed widescreen, in order to keep with the movie set theme. Every time the camera is rolling, our viewpoint changes from an anamorphic shot to a matte frame. It’s a great touch that goes a long way by adding an extra level of immersion to the proceedings. If you take a moment to look at the video quality itself, then you’ll notice that attention was paid to creating digital noise, in order to make the movie feel as low budget as it’s supposed to be. For those extra efforts, this 200 MB download gets a good mark in presentation. It looks good, runs pretty well and also features quality sound design. The pack’s assisting overacting and laughable scriptwriting also contributes well.
What’s great about the Third Street Saints and their outrageous sandbox franchise is how they always keeps us on our toes, with abated anticipation regarding the group’s next overblown plan. There’s always something new coming around the corner, which is a definite strength. Gangstas in Space continues this trend with some enjoyable and humorous content that returning crime bosses will enjoy. Though, amidst the laughs and flying bullets, there is a noticeable lack of length and mechanical originality to be found. The purple-clad crime syndicate’s film debut ends up being a relatively successful one, but it’s by no means revolutionary.
This review is based on downloadable content that we received for review purposes.