Well, what is there to say about me? I'm kinda like your average gamer: I like to play games, I like to talk about games, and I hope to work in the video game industry one day.
I do tend to enjoy videogames more than the average gamer would though: videogames have been my life for as long as I remember (hell, the earliest memory that I can recall personally is me waking up and hopping on my SNES to play that X-men and Spider-man crossover game) so it's as much a part of me as my personality.
Although I LOVE to play videogames, having been doing so my whole life, I am not as skilled in videogames as others so I usually play on easier difficulties. Don't get me wrong, I do find it a bit dull when a game's too easy, and I do respect games that are hard for the players who want it (Dark Souls is deliciously hard and I wouldn't want it any other way) but I'd still like it if developers catering to gamers like me who simply aren't as skilled as others.
I have a wide variety of taste when it comes to games as I try to keep an open mind about everything that comes out: just because I play mainstream games Halo and Call of Duty doesn't mean I can't enjoy the underrated ones like Anarchy Reigns, Fire Emblem, and the like.
I'm a huge fan of Saints Row: The Third, doing things like beating it three times (and recently started a fourth) and buying most of the DLC (everything sans the Invincible Pack and Z Style). So it wouldn't be a surprise that I would be anticipating the GenkiBowl VII DLC pack, as the game claims it to be a Mission Pack, meaning no pointless costumes (though I rock my Knight of Steelport armor all day) or questionable guns. I mean, the website even claims that this DLC will blow your mind. But is GenkiBowl VII worth attending or should you simply stay home?
Welcome to GenkiBowl VII; Home of Murder Time FunTime
Professor Genki is at it again; Not content with the simple Super Ethnical Reality Climax game show, he decides its time for another GenkiBowl, the place for murder, fun, and time to have fun murdering. As the leader of the Saints, as well as the terrorist of Steelport (which would catch the eye of superstar psycho Professor Genki), you're invited to participate in the GenkiBowl, doing crazy named Activities such as Sad Panda Skydiving and Sexy Kitten Yarngasm,
"Wait," you must be saying, "Activities?" Unfortunately, yes, even though the game calls them Missions, as you even access them initially via the cell phone Mission tab, they really are just Activities masquerading as Missions, not unlike the middle portion of the main game (and even then, these "missions" don't count towards the "missions completed" count). This wouldn't be so bad if there was some context to the Activities, as in the main game you did Tiger Escort to face your fear or Snatch to build up Zimo's ho stable, but there isn't any aside from the fact that you're on the game show, nothing more.
There are cut-scenes in the DLC, but there aren't so many of them; The only reason I put the "s" there is because there is two cut-scenes, one only being seen had you beaten ALL of the Activities instances (you're only required to do one instance to proceed but you need to do them all to see the ending). Most of the DLC, much like main game, lets you do more than you watch, with in-game conversations, like cell phone calls before the missions, giving you the details. However, the cell phone conversations in this Mission Pack is simply telling you to show up for the next event, not even bothering to tell you where you'll be heading to next.
Speaking of not bothering, the Mission does VERY little with the Boss him/herself; Aside from his three-second appearance in the opening cut-scene, your character does not speak at all during the missions aside from the usual taunts and phrases that they shout when they are attacking someone, like "The Saints ALWAYS win," and even then, sometimes they don't say anything at all, like when you taunt or compliment.
While the voice actors for the announcers Zach and Bobby return to reprise their role, in a top-notch performance, it's still disappointing to never hear your character at all; The Boss DOES speak at the ending cut-scene, but even then, it's some random voice under the voice disguiser; The Boss isn't even in their usual attire as you're FORCED to wear a Panda suit for the last cut-scene (remember there's only two). I had planned to play through the packs with all my characters, but with all playthroughs being identical to each other (in the main game I changed the sex and voices, taunts, and compliments for each character) there's no point to playthrough them with the others aside to unlock stuff (more on that later).
Can I haz Sexy Kitten Yarngasm!?
But on to the meat of the DLC: The Activities. I mean, after all, the story doesn't make the game; The gameplay does, and if the gameplay is awesome, then would that make up for it? Well, in any case, you get four Activities in this order: Apocalypse Genki, Super Ethnical PR Opportunity, Sexy Kitten Yarngasm, and Sad Panda Skydiving. With weird sounding names, they are sure to be fun, no? Well, somewhat:
Apocalypse Genki is really just the Super Ethnical Reality Climax Activity with a new layout and like one new gimmick; You fight in a forest-based layout with dense trees and foliage but you still play the same way: You shoot mascots, avoid traps, and shoot targets in order to reach the minimum amount of money needed to open the door to the exit. Just because its in a new location doesn't make it any more exciting and just because we can throw mascots into shark-infested waters doesn't make it any more different. Now, if you loved S.E.R.C., then you'll have no reason to hate this, but it's disappointing that, having enough time to remake S.E.R.C., they would do something crazier.
Super Ethnical PR Opportunity is the same as Escort, only without the sexy moaning and groaning; You pick up Professor Genki and hype him up for the GenkiBowl by driving around and causing mayhem, such as crashing into cars and running over people, and doing as Genki commands (like killing mascots or damaging cars) while avoiding "hysteric fans" from annoying Genki (much like the pararazzi in Escort). The difference here is that you now have a weapon; A flamethrower attached to the car that, after you charge it up by running people over, can be used to roast pedestrians alive and even take out the "fan vans," though they respawn (but at least it improves on one of Escort's worst annoyance). It's somewhat better than Escort but it's really the same thing. While there's two instances of this one, you can't do the other instance until you progress far enough in the missions like the Guardian Angel Activity in the main game.
Baby I got a plan; Runaway as fast as you can
Sexy Kitten Yarngasm is my favorite of the bunch, both in name and the game; Similiar to Mayhem, specifically Tank Mayhem, you need to cause enough money in damage within a time limit. However, instead of your own weapons (one of the most boring Activities in the main game) or a Tank, you get to run around in a giant ball of yarn (contrary to the belief that you'll control the ball with a car much like the little dude in Katamari Damacy) and run over cars and knock down signs and such. It's fun to play around with, and even more fun to the pretty energetic electronic music playing in the background (similiar to something you'd see in animes actually, or something in Japanese culture); In fact, the music definitely makes the experience even more fun.
The Activity isn't without problems however; The amount of damage you have to do is pretty high, and while there's a combo multipler, sometimes you'll be VERY strapped for time. The ball itself isn't hard to control, as it controls much like the Warthog from the Halo series, but it does get stuck between objects easily, such as houses and trees and other things that it can't destroy. Not only that, the best part of the Activity, the ability to send out a shockwave (the ball of yarn bounces up and slams down) so rarely becomes available; While it can cause mass destruction and much moolah, I had to use it mostly to get my ball out (hehe) of where its stuck in (hehe), and when I can't get it out (hehe), or I don't have a shockwave (you get like three though), then I'm forced to wait out the clock or restart. Still, it's my favorite of the bunch, being that its the most original and over-the-top.
So while they didn't save the best for last, the last is not the least; Sad Panda Skydiving is a combination of S.E.R.C. and the skydiving "mini-game" where you try to land in a marked area. Specifically, you jump out of a helicopter wearing a Sad Panda Suit and skydive through flaming rings for money, trying to make the minimum amount to complete the Activity. While the exit isn't locked for access, you will still fail the Activity if you don't make the minimal amount. However, there isn't nearly enough rings to make the minimal amount but you aren't screwed; You can land in designated rooftops and slay mascots with a chainsaw to make bank, though not without a catch: You MUST leave the rooftop within the designated amount of time, via the "man-a-pult" cannons, or just jumping off the roof, or else you will fail. You don't have to kill every mascots, and you can always try to return to the rooftop by landing there again, so it shouldn't be a problem if you're careful.
There are a few mishaps with this Activity as well: While you will presumably fail if you hit the ground, there are giant ballons of tigers and panda that you can use to "bounce" back into the air should you fall too low, but you can't see where they are in the map, meaning that if you're falling, you have to try to find one before you hit the ground. And even if you hit the balloon (unlike S.E.R.C., it doesn't matter which ballon you hit), there's no guarantee that you'll make it back to "operational height," so to speak, and just still fail anyway. And trying to kill mascots is such an annoyance; While most of the time they just stand there and dance, other times they will run around. Since you're using a chainsaw, you have to be close to kill them, and even with unlimited sprint, the time limit ensures that you need to keep moving, meaning that they will get away; It's so annoying that I need a couple hundred more bucks to be allowed to leave only for the mascots to keep running from me.
Touch the Sky
Here Kitty Kitty...
So speaking of money, is this pack worth 7 bucks/ 560 Microsoft Points? Well, it somewhat depends: I personally played and finished it, as in all the Activities and instances finished as well as seeing the ending cut-scene, in all under two hours or so. And that's including the time I spent driving my motocycle to each location and back to the Penthouse; Anyone with a VTOL who goes straight to the next location rather than returning home might even finish under an hour. However, since they aren't missions per se, you can replay the Activities again and again, though, seeing as how they aren't missions, you can't repeat cell phone conversations or the two cut-scenes.
At least by finishing the Activities you can get some unlockables, but they aren't anything too exciting save for one in particular: You can get some extra homies (I should note that CheapAssGamer's CheapyD is included and unlocked from the start of the Xbox 360 version of GenkiBowl VII) such as Angry Tiger and Sexy Kitten (the female Genki girls) but, aside from the reporter that you get at the end, they aren't anything special; If you wanna roll with some furry chicks, then you now can, but if you're into the bitches and hos, then there's no other reason to call them up. Homies are only cool to call because they have their own personalities; The Genki girls are just generic, unlike the reporter or CheapyD (though the latter is a hate it or love it affair). Not only that, there's no sound byte when you call up any of the new characters; It's just dead silence.
Other than the homies, you can unlock some vehicles, but most of them are pretty much reskinned/ recolored vehicles; The Mouse ATV is like a mix between the Saints Rover (seen in Gangstas in Space) and the ATV (in the Luchador version of Trailblazing) and the cars the Genki girls gives you are just pink versions of cars that you already get via the main story (though you couldn't customize them). The only other worthwhile thing is Yarnie, which is exactly what you think: The big ball of yarn seen in Sexy Kitten Yarngasm, only this time with unlimited shockwave usage. It's pretty fun rolling (see what I did there) around town with it, but your mileage may vary; I have a blast causing mayhem with it while others may not see the point of meaningless destruction.
So whether or not you should get this DLC is wholly dependent of how much you love to screw around in Saints Row: The Third. If you're very mission-orientated, then you may not like the fact that this DLC is mostly Activities, two of which is similiar to the ones in the main game, and the lack of cut-scenes. The missions are quick and, for the most part, easy enough to do within an hour and there's no reason to do them again aside from money, achievement, and personal enjoyment (though like I said, you get Yarnie after beating Sexy Kitten Yarngam, my favorite Activity, so why replay that one?). It's somewhat disappointing to call this a "Mission Pack," but as DLC, it does well enough that its worth 7 bucks, but not a penny more.
Score [For clarification purposes, similiar to Destructoid, I use the 10 point grading system. So it goes as follows:
4.9 and lower = Does not recommend
5.0 = Indifferent
5.1 and over = Recommend
Verdict: 7.5 With the slew of unlockables such as homies, cars, and outfits (disappointingly no Saints Flow or anything) as well as some Activities, it's pretty fun for an add-on, but as a Mission Pack? No, especially since it isn't polished; No sound bytes when you call the new homies, lack of the Boss's voicework, lack of cut-scenes, etc. Still, any fan of Saints Row: The Third should definitely play it, but it won't win anyone who isn't a fan, or someone who plays it casually, over.