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Nothing represents peace on Earth and good will toward man more than the Saints Row franchise. I mean, after blowing up Earth at the beginning of the fourth installment, that made it so no more conflict can exist on Earth, right? (crickets chirp) Much like Christmas, Saints Row has an interesting and long history. The series started out as a Grand Theft Auto knock off back before any GTA game made it to a next gen (now past gen) platform. I got the first game as a gift back in I want to say 2006. I knew nothing about it but it felt like a cut rate GTAIII, so while it did not set my world on fire, I enjoyed playing it to completion.
Saints Row 2 came out a couple years later, same idea just a more polished game with more humor. A fairly major addition was you were able to make your character female and swap genders throughout the course of the game at the plastic surgery shop. I would enjoy playing as a voluptuous woman in a string bikini during multiplayer, and then visit the shop and change into a 500 lb fat man without changing my outfit. The screams of anguish I heard over the headset were music to my ears. By the time the third installment came out, the game had taken on its own identity and while it never took itself that seriously to begin with this entry was practically a parody of itself with a nonsensical story line where the criminal street gang had grown in popularity to become a multibillion dollar brand. Steelport, the new city for this entry, included its own zombie apocalypse, locally contained in one district. This was but a taste of things to come, when Saints Row IV was released it made The Third look about as serious in tone as The Godfather in comparison.
Saints Row IV starts with an alien invasion that results in Earth’s destruction. The rest of the game takes place in a virtual reality simulation that is accessed from a spaceship. The Saints were able to escape the planetary destruction due to the boss being president of the United Saints and the lieutenants being cabinet members. The simulation allows you to acquire super powers which make the game staples like hijacking vehicles and using guns pretty much obsolete. These additions do allow for some fun gameplay, but unfortunately the meat and potatoes of the game’s missions are just making you do the random Saints Row activities like Mayhem and Insurance Fraud and dressing them up as loyalty missions. The expansions for the game are no less ridiculous than the main game, they include forming an alliance with velociraptors and travelling to Hell to mess with the arranged marriage for Satan’s daughter. How The Saints Save Christmas does not disappoint in the WTF department, but sadly this expansion DLC is essentially some small packages pulled from a shriveled Santa sack. It’s not that this content is bad, the actual missions are fun and the humor is up to par with anything else this series has done, but it just doesn’t last long enough. So while you are starting to reach the climax of mayhem fueled Christmas cheer, you realize the content is over, and you need to find some other way to obtain satisfaction, a feeling I am sure my female readers can especially relate to.
The story begins with a time traveling cyber Shaundi recruiting you to help take down the evil Santa Clawz and help out the real Santa Clause in order to save Christmas. In other words, nothing out of the ordinary for Saints Row IV. This content does do a good job of incorporating the Christmas theme into the game play. You can use the telekinesis to deliver presents, whether to give them as gifts to the Saints or to use them as weapons against Clawz’s minions. A unique weapon you get in the first mission is a BB Gun, which I think is supposed to be a reference to some Christmas movie. The minions of Clawz are living gingerbread men with guns and murder bots dress up like nutcrackers. This is why the length of time for this is disappointing because the missions were quite enjoyable. Controlling the sleigh in the mission where you deliver presents to people on the nice list and coal to those on the naughty list was a little wonky at first but once I got the hang of it that was fun. Replaying that mission as a minigame on the main map of the simulation becomes available once you successfully save Christmas and defeat Clawz, which is a nice addition but I wanted some more story missions out of this.
The whole expansion can be completed in about one to two hours. This expansion is available as a stand alone purchase if you bought the Saints Row IV main game only when it came out, but now most formats of Saints Row IV for Steam or console have all the DLC bundled with it. Anyone who is a fan of the series and its off color humor will enjoy this, and while it might be too short if you want something quick to play through to help pass the time until Christmas this is a good choice.