In Space, no one can hear you groan.
The second piece of ''substantial'' DLC content released for Saints Row The Third is at the very least a markedly improved stash of stuff over its predecessor, the iterative activity dump that is Genki Bowl VII, but of course that doesn't exactly stand for much. Speaking as a singular piece of content, however, Gangstas in Space is also relatively poor but unlike Genki Bowl does still manage to reimburse players with some of the reasons as to what made Saints Row The Third so endearing in the first place.
Kinda/sorta/but not really building off of the Gangstas in Space ending for the single player story, the Gangstas in Space DLC has the anti-est of heroes (or heroines) pulled back to the big screen to finish production of the titular movie. Right off the bat, things start to look up; we have our main character back in the boots as an actual character again (and this time, each of the seven voices make a reprisal for the dialogue), we have an actual plot, and as evidenced via the opening cutscene, the Boss isn't exactly suited to any sort of actual ''acting''.
The first mission (out of three) only furthered my excitement as it falls back on making perfect use of overtly dramatic music and humour to sell its intent, and there's even some crappy grind-house filter to really emphasise the notion that you're following the Boss via a camera. Your main character is reading his/her lines about as poorly as a line reading during a nativity play and overall it looked promising. Unfortunately, the more it goes on the worse it stoops lower and lower into mediocrity. The opening mission is fantastic, showcasing your character fighting through a small battlefield against the army attempting to save an alien princess, whilst Michael Bay's mixtape is playing over the scene--and you even get to play through this mission via a different ''take'' as well. Your character's completely exaggerated delivery of ham & corn also had me giggling with every line, too. But during the halfway point of the mission, it all starts to dip.
The second half plays out as an on-rails sequence that goes on for far too long, I was already starting to grate a little against the purposely poor line delivery, and the newly introduced Director character Andy Zheng, for as much of an utter ''angry director who bad mouths everyone but the lead who he indefinitely brown-noses'' characerture that he is, was very quickly worn into the ground.
With the second mission, things only get worse. Now situated at ground level, you're to fight through a series of small space-themed sets shooting down evil alien women. To start off, the ''new'' weapons they give are of the overheating variety, so even if you happen to have infinite ammo by this point, you're to still be cut short every few seconds waiting for the meter to drain. These kind of weapons weren't fun in the slightest during the main game, and they still aren't fun here. The actual mission itself just consists of you going through a selection of small environments shooting stuff, with the occasional ''stand here and keep a hold of the triangle button for a short while'' activities thrown in--which speaks to a similar complaint for Genki Bowl VII for how being nigh invincible makes standard shootouts nothing but tedious. If there is something that I did enjoy during the second mission, it was the exploration behind the sets in between scenes; there's a lot of pretty cool stuff littered around to see--including a wink to another particular Volition franchise--and it houses some of the better pieces of dialogue between the Boss and Jenny (your co-star).
The final mission improves over the dreadful ''second act'' you could say, since it allows you to fly around in a crazy 50s sci-fi boomerang VTOL. That's all it really is, though, just a reskinned VTOL. But fortunately, VTOLs are still pretty fun to fly. What is unfortunate, however, was having to hang around a small space of air whilst Jenny attempts to hack something because of something. While this is going on, you're bombarded with constantly respawning enemy boomerang VTOLs, which can make the final stand particularly frustrating because of how little space you're given to maneuver without flying out of range of the ''hack zone''.
As such, a great deal of Gangstas in Space really isn't all that fun to play. The two new characters aren't particularly engaging either-- Zhen's single shtick is barely able to carry himself through the first mission and Jenny was largely just kind of boring throughout--though it was still a somewhat neat twist to see the Boss act just a little more toned down than for his/her usual affairs. The ending in particular is also abhorrently awful and anti-climatic to say the least (even Genki Bowl had a better ending than this), and while the new laser guns weren't particularly fun to use, it's still puzzling as to why you don't unlock them after the story's finished. Even Jenny when you call her up as a Homie uses the STAG Laser Assault Rifle instead. You do at least unlock the boomerang VTOL (it's not actually called that of course... though I like the sound of it) and some re-skinned Jet-Bike, but again there's no new weapons, and speaking for the outfits there's but the single helmet; no dressing up as an Alien Goddess I regret to say.
Oh, but Space Brutina is pretty incredible.
Whereas Gangstas in Space is undoubtedly better than Genki Bowl VII, at the same time it's also more of a tragedy for the sake of how disappointing it is. It's but an hour long with a completely throwaway and largely pointless plot, and little in the way of goodies to show for your time spent. Gangstas in Space may carry some of the The Third's crude charm that Genki Bowl before it was sorely missing, but the small steps it made to overcome its predecessor were just too small in the grand scheme.