Agents of Mayhem Review
Agents of Mayhem looks like a hybrid between Volition’s over-the-top series Saints Row and Ruffian Games’ Crackdown. However, it does not play like any of them. It is more of a spin-off and somewhat of a spiritual successor to Saints Row.
Agents of Mayhem is an open world, third person action-adventure game set in a futuristic version of Seoul, South Korea. The story revolves around the Agents of MAYHEM (Multinational Agency for Hunting Evil Masterminds), a group of high-end, futuristic superheroes that wage war against the supervillain organization L.E.G.I.O.N. (the League of Evil Gentlemen Intent on Obliterating Nations) to stop them from destroying the world. The game’s core theme revolves around Saturday morning cartoons and superhero films/shows. Although this may sound like an awesome game packed full of over-the-top action and one liners, does it have what it takes to stand on its own two feet?
Character Variety: There are a total of 12 diverse agents that the player can pick from, each having their own unique abilties, quips, playstyles and outfits. You will have the option of using 3 agents in your team. My personal favourites were the hot-headed and passionate Hollywood with his own Michael Bay-like explosions, Daisy the roller skating, mini-gun wielding bad-ass and Scheherazade, the ninja assassin capable of causing the most damage. Every single one of the 12 agents is aesthetically and mechanically dissimilar to the rest. Although they embody their respective tropes and steroetypes, the character designs are mostly pleasing.
Astonishing Audio: The voice acting is superb and encapsulates the personality and background of an agent splendidly. This, coupled with the constant banter between some agents, leads to some truly funny dialogue and scenes that will elicit a chuckle from you from time to time. Moreover, the music in the game is somewhat non-existent but when you activate your Mayhem ability, it really does shine. I loved activating Fortune’s Mayhem ability just to listen to her samba music which always put a smile on my face. There are also other pieces of music that truly fit in with the theme of the character. Despite the fact that these Mayhem tracks are only availble when activating said ability, it still brightens the monotony and reptitive misions, gameplay and combat.
Amazing Cartoon-y Cutscenes: Agents of Mayhem boasts one of the most unique and original cutscene artstyles I have seen in a video game in a long time. As previously stated, Agents of Mayhem’s themes blend together Saturday night cartoons with superheroes. The cutscenes mimic this with their cartoon like artstyle and cinematography which should be commended to say the least. I did have a sense of nostalgia as I felt like I was re-living my childhood by watching Totally Spies or even Kim Possible. Don’t laugh at me, there’s nothing wrong with a boy watching girls shows.
Upgrades: The upgrades go hand in hand with the combat that will be talked about further into the review. To put it into perspective, each agent will have a hadnful of upgrades to work with. When you level agents up, you will receive a skill point which you can then put into one of 4 skills. Additionally, you will also receive passive and active upgrades that will change how most of your basic abilities, guns and ultimate abilties will function; be it additional raw power or added crowd control effects. The upgrades allow you to customise agents to your playstyle for a more personalised experience. Although the upgrades are simplistic and dumbed down, they are still impactful to the overall gameplay as no two agents will play the same. You can adjust an agent for every situation possible.
No Co-op: Agents of Mayhem is a game that screams and begs for a co-op mode but, unfortunately, does not have one. From the variety of the over-the-top characters to the awe inspiring Michael Bay explosions, a co-op feature would have been appreciated but sadly is not implemented. What I wouldn’t give to destroy the L.E.G.I.O.N with a friend or even just screw around with enemies.
Lackluster Script: The writing is very questionable to say the least. Ultimately, the scipt is aimed at 10 year old boys and is inherently full of childish, immature and cringey one-liners and swearing. The amount of ‘Uranus’ jokes that the game uses within missions is astounding and borderline offensive to the more mature and respectable gamer. To top it all off, the visually pleasing, Saturday night cartoon inspired cutscenes also have this problem. The cutscene, in and of themselves, are used to portray the main story or the charcter’s backstory. The in-your-face attitude of the script makes the cutscenes unenjoyable and a tad bit annyoing to watch. This isn’t to say the game doesn’t have a few lines of dialogue that will make you chuckle at times. However, this is mostly like finding a needle in a haystack so don’t hold your breath waiting for a genuinely funny dialogue.
Uninpiring Missions: Agents of Mayhem’s missions fall under three categories mostly: Outpost take over, lair infiltration and finally item recovery. All of these mission are mundane, repetitive and unenjoyable. However, there are also character missions which are predominantly used to unlock various characters. These usually consist of two parts but once they have all been completed, you do not have much else left to do. Occasionally, there will be driving missions which are a breath of fresh air but does not do much either. It was pleasing to dodge laser beams being shot from the skies in my vehicle but these sections were too few and far between. Last but not least are the boss battles that are more engaging but still follow the same formulaic pattern.
Minimal Collectibles: Due to the nature of the game being ‘open-world’, collectibles are bound to be incorporated. However, these collectibles are nothing like Crackdown’s for example. Where Crackdown had a myriad of orbs scattered throughout the city, Agents of Mayhem only has two types from what I have seen. Shards and loot chests. The shards, once you have colelcted 10 of them, can be used to upgrade an agent’s Mayhem ability, whereas loot chests give you generic ingredients for item creation and other savy stuff. Not once did I go out of my way to actually pick these up. I found them to be unimportant and unimpactful to the core gameplay. Sure the shards are used to upgrade abilities, but as the game offers 15 difficulty levels, you don’t really need the shards or chests unless you want to plan for late game.
Combat: The player will have two main abilities one of which is a basic cooldown skill and the other is a Mayhem skill. The cooldown skill is used by pressing the associated button then waiting for the cooldown to finish, whereas the Mayhem skill needs to be charged by getting kills and small item drops from enemies. The general philosophy of the combat here is to shoot the enemy and spam skills until your Mayhem ability has been charged. Once charged, activate the Mayhem ability for insane damage or over the top abilities. For example, Hollywood utilises Michael Bay like explosions for his Mayhem ability. The combat is fundamentally simplistic in design and easy to grasp but still has its fair share of problems. There is no layer of added strategy or enemy prioritisation. The boss battles on the other hand are unique as they introduce shields and armour into the mix. These need to be taken down by agents that specialise in them before finishing off the boss. Ultimately, the boss fights are just a battle of attrition than anything else. Even though they do spice things up a bit, you will still be using the same philosophy: Shoot until they are dead.
Agents of Mayhem is an enjoyable game for the first few hours. After the intial few hours, the game does get repetitive and mundane in it’s combat, missions and dialogue. The lack of a needed co-op mode is also a huge let down as the game screams and begs for one. However, despite all of it’s flaws, it is still a valid substitue for Crackdown seeing as that was delayed until next year. I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend this to someone but at the same time I wouldn’t discourage others from playing it. As it was developed by Volition themselves, it still has it’s own identity crisis. It tries too hard to match up to it’s own heritage but totally ignores the priniciples that Saint Row is known for: Chaotic lunacy and humorous charm. It is an above average game that oozes with potential and capability. Hopefully, Volition will make a stronger and worthy sequel.
Agents of Mayhem was developed by Volition and published by Deep Silver. Agents of Mayhem released on Xbox One [reviewed], PlayStation 4 and PC on August 15th, 2017 for North America and August 18th, 2017 for Europe. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels. Many studios submit copies for site review but this is in no way factored into our review scores. Games are scored on their individual merits and our rating system is explained here.
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