Agents Of Mayhem is an open-world action game set in the Saint's Row universe. The decision of the developer Volition to make this game instead of a full-fledged Saint's Row sequel has been harshly received from the get go and now that the game is out, we can weigh the worth of their decision.
Agents of Mayhem is available for purchase at KeenShop.
The game takes place in the South Korean city of Seoul. Or at least the Saint's Row version of it. It's still in line with its real life counterpart with a fusion of high-tech modern elements and the traditional style of architecture. You work for MAYHEM, which contrary to the word itself actually stands for Multinational Agency Hunting Evil Masterminds. As the full acronym says, Mayhem is an agency for which your 12 playable characters work. Together, they have to stop an evil organization called LEGION which actually stands for League of Evil Gentleman Intent on Obliterating Nations who are hell-bent on bringing chaos and destruction to the world. Well, if this story setup sounds familiar, that's because it's the premise of every other 90's cartoon or B-type movie out there.
Now, where elsewhere I would mark this as a negative, Agents Of Mayhem fully embraces it's quirky nature and is in fact completely built around it. I can most certainly appreciate that since one of my favorite games is Far Cry Blood Dragon which was a similar type of deal and even though it was only a reskin of the original game, it had personality in spades – which all stemmed from embracing its own silliness.
Mayhem goes for the similar treatment with stereotypical and funny characters, cartoony cut-scenes, plenty of exploding B movie scenarios all sprinkled with plenty of neon. All 12 characters have their motivations presented and explored during the course of the game and while they are completely predictable, playing their stereotype to the letter, they were still a lot of fun. From the roller skating minigun wielding chick to middle eastern assassin and yeti-like Russian – the characters are a lot of fun to experiment with and the fact that you can swap them on the fly and have the currently selected character offer his perspective on the current mission is one of the high points of the game.
Since Agents is an open-world game, it's mostly as you would expect. The city of Seoul is your playground after you finish with the introductory mission that teaches you the basics of controlling your agents. The city itself is an eye candy. It looks good as it is a bright and colorful place during the day and neon-lit metropolis during the night. This is mostly due to the architecture itself, as the other elements that make a city feel alive are not quite there. Sure, there are civilians, but they might as well not be there since they are completely bland, only walking around or running if someone starts shooting.
Civilian vehicles are a complete joke as there is only a handful of them and driving them is atrocious as they are slow, hard to control and break apart after a few hits. There were plenty of times that I would be walking around and not have a single NPC or vehicle around me, making it feel like a ghost town at times.
This is somewhat alleviated by the verticality of it all. Most of your agents have a triple jump and a dash that propels them through the air and I spent most of my "on foot" time scaling buildings and searching for collectibles. The fact that Legion forces are easily provoked and swarm you quickly and in great numbers also alleviates the ghost town problem a bit.
As mentioned, there are 12 playable agents for you to choose but you don't have them from the get-go. They each have their own special introductory missions that showcase their motivations for joining Mayhem and after that – you can make them a part of your 3 agent squad. This is by far the strongest aspect of Agents Of Mayhem, the diverse cast of characters all with different abilities, weapons, and power ups. And there are a lot of these. Almost every mission, no matter how minute will net you cash, loot, materials, agents or vehicle skins, upgrade cores, new gadgets or level ups.
This along with the fun combat makes for a pretty fun experience. Traversal is fun with the mentioned triple jumps and dashes and each building can present a puzzle in itself on how to use little protrusions to navigate around it to reach the top. Driving, which is only ever fun in agency vehicles is extremely arcadey but fits the cartoony theme.
Missions are divided into several groups. Story missions and agent missions, which further flesh out each of the characters and awards them with skins. There are also open world missions consisting mostly out of time races (on foot or in vehicles), hostile base takeovers, hostage rescues, vehicle deliveries and plenty more. Too bad that most of them are completed by just killing a bunch of enemies and are not more thought out. Challenge level can be customized by the player with a staggering 15 levels of difficulty which make the enemies hit harder and with better weapons, increases their numbers and more. Each difficulty level, however, also grants XP and cash boons as the difficulty rises.
An important thing to mention is the loot boxes scattered around the city as well as upgrade crystals. Loot boxes hide loot, cash, skins and vehicle blueprints and are well worth hunting down. Upgrade crystals, on the other hand, reminded me a lot of Crackdown and its glowing upgrade orbs, only with a lot less consistent placement. It still felt good having them, if only as a collectible distraction to find while you are doing something else.
VISUALS AND AUDIO
I'm really a big fan of cell-shaded cartoony graphics and I must say that Agents Of Mayhem is great in that regard. From the cartoony cutscenes to the detailed in-game colorful graphics and effects, it all perfectly fits with the overall theme of the game. With that being said, there were plenty of times that I wished that the game world felt a bit more alive and that a game itself was a bit more stable.
I encountered numerous technical problems and glitches, from disappearing effects, unresponsive controls, and menus to frame rate drops to an embarrassing 20FPS while driving vehicles or tackling a large group of enemies. I sincerely hope that at least the technical difficulties will be addressed in patches as these problems really bring the experience down sometimes.
On the audio side, the word of the day is inconsistency. While cutscenes really emphasize the quirky superhero cartoony feel with appropriate music and great voice work. In-game, while voice work remains on very much the same level of quality and execution, the music is really sub par along with the ambient sounds of the city which further contributes to it feeling bland and uninteresting. You rarely hear anyone of the pedestrians utter a single word, and traffic sounds are almost the same in a busy or a totally empty intersection – tame and silent. Entering a vehicle immediately plays a couple of generic upbeat electronic tracks that are really disappointing.
Agents Of Mayhem is a mixed bag. It's actually a good game with a lot of potential while technical difficulties and inconsistent quality hold it down from being better. Its multiple character setup screams multiplayer and its absence is puzzling which could be added when and if a sequel should be made. But I'm afraid that Agents bay become a victim of releasing to a fanbase that wants another Saints Row game which would be a shame, as me, personally, had a lot of fun with it.
Multiple characters, a constant stream of unlockables and fun missions in a cartoony superhero setting. If you can look past its problems and are drawn to any of this, Agents Of Mayhem could be a game for you, otherwise, wait for a deep sale.
|+ Varied cast of characters||– Empty game world|
|+ Fun combat||– Repetitive side missions|
|+ Plenty of unlockables and collectibles||– Numerous technical difficulties|
|+ Good visuals||– Bad sound design|