What difference a little music makes. Gangstas in Space chronicles the Saints’ latest foray into the movie industry and leads off with a taxi mission. Co-star Jenny – swathed in ridiculous alien attire – helms the wheel of a military Humvee while you spit furious lead at a glut of invading alien spaceships which then ignite with movie-eagerness into a squall of metal. The scene escalates, the aliens fight harder and the Inception-inspired music thunders along transforming a routine (and by this point tired) jaunt around Steelport into a rousing and monumental bid to save humankind. After five minutes of explosive bedlam the scene arrives at a fittingly cliche action-movie crescendo: a monumental leap from one of Steelport’s islands to the next, some thirty meters away. You can sense the slow-motion brewing.
But even movies are bound by the law of physics and the Humvee plummets straight into the water with a pitiful plop. The music fizzles out, the film grain fades away, the alien spaceships back off and an irate director tears through the atmosphere:
“What the hell was that?” Take two.
Grinning behind the theatrics and action-movie bombast is the same old Saints Row but just being set to a new milieu is enough to make Gangstas in Space feel fresh at first. That grandness quickly fades into the ether though, revealing another piece of DLC that offers very, very little for its £5 admission fee.
Chief problem once again is an untenable lack of content. Gangstas lasts all of about 40 minutes and its three missions fail to bring anything new to the table; it’s all shooting galleries and dogfights as per the Saints 3 template and while the theatrics carry it early on, by the mid-point its irrelevant why or who you’re fighting or what music is playing over the carnage. The inclusion of some dialogue between you, Jenny and the film director adds flavour and the semblance of a story helps merge the DLC into something coherent, unlike Genkibowl, but it’s still bereft of anything to supplement the core Saints Row 3 experience.
Once the trio of missions are done with you’re dumped back into Steelport proper with little to show for the brief romp. Besides a few droll lines, the movie-backdrop and a spaceship modelled on the VTOL, there’s nothing to differentiate Gangstas in Space from a host of missions found in Saints 3. It’s all cosmetic. You pepper aliens with bullets shot from a pistol designed to look like an alien blaster but it’s no different to murdering luchadores with the standard handguns, except the alien blasters don’t fire explosive rounds. The fact that the screen’s daubed in film-grain and the director chimes in every now and then is neither here nor there when the mechanics are so conventional. Protect Jenny as she arms a bomb? Ghee whizz. Defend X while the virus uploads. Cor!
The mild lampooning of Avatar brings with it a few giggles and with the skeletal structure of a narrative it edges passed Genkibowl in the quality stakes, but it’s still an indefensibly substandard and cursory slice of content for a game that flaunted quality through its generosity.