Publisher: Deep Silver
Release Date: 15/08/2017
Format(s): Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Following on from their success with the Saint’s Row franchise, developers Volition have tried to do something different with their latest release, Agents of Mayhem. Taking inspiration from the action-packed Saturday Morning cartoons of gamers’ childhoods, Agents of Mayhem puts you in a super squad of heroes with varying unique abilities. It’s set in the same universe as Saints Row too, so as you can imagine it has that same anarchic crude vibe that has kept a grin on players’ faces over the years.
Agents of Mayhem takes place in a futuristic Seoul and puts you in the shoes of the titular Agents of Mayhem, a super group of ‘heroic’ (and I’m using that term extremely loosely here) Agents that look to take down the villainous LEGION. This means constantly foiling their insanely destructive plans over and over again, all whilst taking on their Lieutenants and bringing an end to LEGION’s evil ways for good. In honesty it’s all silly goofy fun, with the game almost mocking itself at times with its clear inspiration of the aforementioned Saturday Morning cartoons and the way that the villains almost recycle their deadly plans over and over again. It’s a good thing though and one of the most appealing things about the game – it’s always nice to play something that doesn’t take itself too seriously and tries to have a bit of fun.
There’s a rich selection of characters for you to play as in Agents of Mayhem, with thirteen available in total. Each of these Agents feel incredibly unique too with their own personalities, abilities, and weaponry. You’ve got the likes of Hollywood, an actor whose special ability sees him donning a pair of shades and unleashing a series of action-movie like explosions upon his foes, Rama, a bow and arrow wielding bombshell who inflicts a deadly plague upon her enemies, Yeti, a Russian super soldier who wants to restore the greatness of his motherland, and even Jonny Gat, the Saint’s Row superstar who’s got a love for violence and kicking ass. No matter who you play as though, they always offer something unique; sure, some characters are better than others, but at least you have the choice as to who you want to play as.
Best of all, you can switch between a team of three characters on the fly. It’s a good way of keeping gameplay fresh and means you’re never simply restricted to one playing style; you might find yourself in a situation where a different character’s abilities might be more useful, but fortunately a simple button press will pull them in. It’s a good way to save yourself when one of your Agent’s HP is running low too.
Each Agent also has an ultimate ‘Mayhem’ attack that can be activated when their ‘Mayhem Meter’ is full. These super powerful abilities are typically based around each specific Agent’s move set or personality, with the Mayhem attacks proving to be as impressive to see as they are powerful to use. The Mayhem attacks something that’s worth considering when deciding which Agents you decide to place in your squad, especially since they can be a deal breaker in some of the tighter showdowns with foes.
As you complete missions and activities in the game your Agents will level up, giving you access to all new abilities and weaponry as well as allowing you to boost their stats. I was actually pretty surprised by the flexibility of the upgrade system, with the player able to freely develop each character to suit their playstyle. Of course, this does mean you’ve got to try and prioritise which characters you want to take through each mission to take advantage of all the experience points on offer – the game does send you on missions which are based around specific characters at times too though, so you won’t want to have any of them under-levelled.
Admittedly, Agents of Mayhem’s combat is pretty easy going for the most part, with an auto-aim system in place ensuring that you’ll always be able to unload plenty of shots upon your foes as long as you’re pointing your guns in their direction. Combat is based around hit points rather than head shots though, so the extra accuracy is appreciated since most enemies take a few more hits than your typical third person shooter foe to kill. It does alleviate some of the challenge though, so don’t expect to find your skills pushed to the limit too much unless you’re playing on one of the trickier difficulty settings. At least what it lacks in challenge it makes up for in anarchy…
The Agents are pretty nimble at getting around, with each one able to pull off triple jumps as they bounce around each locale. Some of the more acrobatic characters can even dash across the air quickly too, allowing you to get to some of those hard to reach areas with minimal fuss. It’s always a good idea to mix up power with manoeuvrability when putting together your team, especially since you’re able to freely swap between characters with ease.
It’s a good job that the Agents are a nimble bunch though, because you’ll be zipping through locations at speed and climbing a lot of heights in the game. Agents of Mayhem’s open world setting of Seoul is full of buildings you have to scale and streets you have to race across as you hunt down LEGION, with manoeuvrability playing a big role throughout the game – it’s never just shooting enemies, you know. You won’t just have to get to places by foot though, with plenty of vehicles for you to commandeer too. Agents of Mayhem acknowledges that its city is going to be a playground for players, so there’s ALWAYS plenty of ramps to speed over and objects to destroy once you’re in a vehicle meaning the fun never stops.
Despite Seoul’s vibrant and bustling with life setting being the highlight of the game’s environments, a lot of the action takes place in some bland in-door environments. It’s a shame, since the city itself has a lot of potential to host some epic showdowns; having to explore unimaginative lairs instead felt a lot more boring than a brightly lit city.
Despite this, the city still has lots for you to do with plenty of different side endeavours for you to take part in outside of the main story missions. You’ve got the likes of rampaging through enemy bases and capturing them (which annoyingly they can recapture later in the game – boo!), rescuing hostages, finding collectibles, and taking part in races – you know, the usual side missions you’d find in this kind of game. They’re a neat way to waste some time as well as unlock extra cash and experience points, but I found myself growing tired of them quickly. They didn’t have the personality of the side missions of the Saints Row series (or a lot of other open world games for that matter) and the rate in which LEGION fought back actually quelled my motivation to keep a firm grip on Seoul’s streets.
Everything about Agents of Mayhem feels like silly fun. Much like Saint’s Row, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and ensures that the stupid humour and over the top action takes priority from start to end. It does absolutely nothing to revolutionise third person shooters or re-invent open worlds in any way, but it certainly knows how to embrace what makes them fun to play in the first place.
There are a few issues to found though. There were plenty of frame rate drops during the game’s more frantic scenes, and whilst they never made the game unplayable they were certainly noticeable. Criminally, there’s a lack of any form of multiplayer options too, which feels like a huge omission given that Agents of Mayhem would work perfectly as a co-operative shooter. It’s a strange design choice by Volition, especially since multiplayer features have been previously prominent in Saint’s Row.
Agents of Mayhem should easily last you around twenty hours, though you could add or remove a few depending on how many of the side missions you decide to indulge in. Whilst I was definitely kept entertained for most of my play time, there were a few moments where things could run into a bit of lull – some missions are certainly more exciting than others, with the epic entertaining showdowns against LEGION’s lieutenants mixed in with some bland run ‘n gun sections. At least nothing ever felt outright bad though.
Whilst Agents of Mayhem isn’t ground breaking as a third person shooter or as an open world title, it’s still a lot of fun thanks to its anarchic, silly nature. Each of the Agents on offer are full of personality and ensure the game constantly changes things up, with each one offering a different way to play the game.
It’s not flawless though, with quite a few frame drops joined by some slightly boring missions during some of the game’s middle sections. There’s also a lack of multiplayer, which is baffling given how much it would’ve complimented the game’s team-focused gameplay.
Still, none of these flaws stop Agents of Mayhem being fun to play through. There’s no doubting that there are better third person shooters and open world games out there, but there’s an entertaining charm to Agents of Mayhem that simply makes it worth checking out.