Agents of Mayhem has been one of my more anticipated titles of the year solely because of the Saints Row series. Now to say this isn’t Saints Row would be wrong, but to say it is would also be wrong. The game seems to have a strong underlying formula which hearkens back to Volition’s much loved franchise. The open-world, the humour and weird antics are all still present and the game is even set in the same fictional universe.
Seoul, South Africa is the location of all the chaos that’s taking place, its being called the city of tomorrow because it has the aesthetic of being a clean futuristic space fantasy-like city. Multinational Agency Hunting Evil Masterminds or M.A.Y.H.E.M is an organisation founded by Persephone Brimstone whom you may know from Gat out of Hell, their mission is to stop the super-villain organisation, League of Evil Gentlemen Intent on Obliterating Nations or L.E.G.I.O.N who look to destroy the world’s nations.
You can play as twelve different agents, each one form a part of a trio inside M.A.Y.H.E.M, take three out at a time into the world to either complete missions or cause havoc. More characters jump over from Saints Row fame in Oleg Kirlov and Pierce Washington and both are playable, but for me it’s the new characters that I’m finding more of a connection with. Hollywood is a Canadian actor who likes to throw in various film and movie quips into what he does, his humour has resulted in many belly laughs. The antagonists are your typical super-villains, they’re pure evil, just wanting death and destruction and they have their own laugh. Hammersmith will be remembered for a long time because of his big balls.
The open world you can explore at your leisure, however after having spent numerous hours in the open world it just feels empty, there’s no hustle and bustle, it just doesn’t quite feel lived in. There are pedestrians and there are cars but on a scale which feels minuscule. Streets would be empty until I arrived and even then, it would be just me.
Gameplay is fun there is no disputing that, but it’s certainly clunky and cumbersome. Movement isn’t the issue, it feels smooth and responsive whereas the camera feels slow and jumpy. The sensitivity can be changed and I experimented with this only to find I couldn’t truly fix what I felt was wrong. Trying to aim at targets specifically in larger fights became a chore. In these larger battles, the saving grace was the pure chaos taking place and having access to special and mayhem abilities that are such a joy to use.
There are so many RPG elements involved with Agents of Mayhem. Each character levels up separately, only gaining XP if in the active party. With every level, you gain an upgrade point to use on four stack-able perks that are agent specific and you can spend 10 points in each perk to greater increase the benefits. Gadgets are skills and buffs that you can change on the fly when needed, these are your special ability, weapon buff and passive buff, mix and match what you want and find the right combination that works for you.
Upgrade Cores can be earned throughout the game, you can use these to permanently improve one of your agents, each agent has three permanent upgrades to choose from and you can get all three, so whether you want to spend all cores on one character or spread them out evenly is up to you. I have to commend that all these features and elements provide choice and customisation to the player but it dangerously walks that line of being too convoluted and confusing.
The city’s clean and colourful look are constant reminders to me that the world is seemingly empty. I was able to take more notice of the finer details in the textures, the different shading techniques used and overall how easy on the eyes the entire experience is. It is almost as if your running and gunning inside of a cartoon which is a compliment because the visuals match the tone of the game.
The sound effects bring every battle to life, injecting a much-needed boost of adrenaline into the adventure. Everything from weapon noises, to character catch-phrases and mayhem ability sounds have been designed perfectly, it all fits, you just want to keep fighting and not only watch but listen to all the action. It’s unfortunate that without a conflict happening, not only does the city appear empty, it sounds it too, ambient sounds are few and far between dependent where on the map you are.
GAME DESIGN & INNOVATION: 7.5/10
For all of its flaws I truly feel there are many more positive traits to the game. The overall story is wacky and crazy but exactly what I would expect and want from it, filled with a colourful cast of even crazier characters that have their own unique looks and playstyles. I appreciate the inclusion of the RPG aspects that allow me to dive in and test out what characters and abilities work best with each other. Agents of Mayhem might not be the game we had originally wanted but I would seriously advise giving it a fair shot.
OVERALL: 7.2/10 – GOOD
Reviewed by Rhys Baldwin.
(Disclaimer: CONQUEST received a review copy of Agents of Mayhem on Xbox One, however this does not in any way affect the scoring of a game or our thoughts on the game itself. We believe in total honesty and being transparent with you.)