Agents of Mayhem
is set in the Saints Row
universe but it doesn’t always feel like a Saints Row
game. There are apparent connections, some characters cross over, their logos are similar, and so much purple on screen at any time certainly helps too, but the core gameplay is very different. Volition’s whacky and often crude humour remains, but the open world setting feels limited, the mission structure is extremely repetitive and the story is threadbare. Thankfully the interesting cast of agents and their distinctive play styles manage to save the day in more ways than one.
If you hadn’t already guessed from the slew of trailers released in the build-up to the game’s launch, Agents of Mayhem
is heavily inspired by eighties shows and cartoons like Knight Rider
and G.I. Joe
, the ones that would have all the family huddled around the TV set every Saturday to catch the latest episode. Chapters in the game act as episodes. Cutscenes play out like small snippets of a cartoon. There's a catchy theme song about life lessons during loading screens. This time around you probably don’t want the kids to be in the room, however.
Set in a futuristic cell-shaded version of Seoul, South Korea, the world is under threat from LEGION (the League of Evil Gentlemen Intent on Obliterating Nations), and it’s the job of the Agents of Mayhem (Multinational Agency Hunting Evil Masterminds) to stop them. To do this, you take control of a team of 12 Agents that each have their own weapons, and unlockable special abilities and gadgets.
You initially start with three Agents, with the other nine becoming available upon completing side-missions that do a decent job of explaining each of their backstories and motives for wanting to help take down LEGION. Once you have them all unlocked, you’ll find an eclectic mix of characters that you can assemble into squads of three to take out the baddies. Assembling your squad is the highlight of the game, adding a layer of depth that many other open world games don’t offer. Each one has unique characters traits and his or her own set of weapons, unlockable abilities and gadgets with which you can find a squad that complements your preferred play style. From Scheherazade, lethal at close range using a melee attack to Rama and her bow and arrow which makes for devastating long range one-hit kills, you’ll quickly find a few that are your go-to characters — mine personally being Fortune, Hollywood and Joule – but it’s equally fun to take an untested team into battle to experiment.
Once you deploy into the world you can switch instantly among any of your chosen three Agents. This will allow you to quickly remove a damaged Agent from the firing line and give them time to heal, switch to a more suitable Agent for the different enemy types you will face throughout the game, or simply to enjoy combining their skills and abilities to cause as much destruction as possible. Swapping and changing between the Agents isn’t just a cool gimmick, it’s an essential part of the gameplay, especially on higher difficulties.
Unfortunately, it’s a shame that the world you play in doesn’t live up to the cast of characters. The open world setting feels empty and lifeless, and the mission structure quickly becomes repetitive. Missions generally revolve around you heading around the map to a start location, scanning for a hidden interactive item, completing a rudimentary puzzle and entering a cookie-cutter underground base called a LEGION Lair to wade through enemies until they seemingly run out of more to throw at you. On the odd occasion that you do something different, it’s still basically just shooting things in the face to reach an objective, and it doesn’t help that the game frequently abuses the rule of threes, one of gaming's favorite tropes. Thankfully, learning how to make things explode and how to kill enemies with the different Agents remains fun, but it is quite possible you’ll suffer from battle fatigue way before you finish all the game’s missions at around the 25-hour mark.
To take down LEGION you’ll need to work your way through five lieutenants. You’ll fight an egotistical Justin Bieber-like pop star and stop a wedding between a cyborg and his AI bride to be, but while the antagonist characters are amusing and interesting enough, the combat returns to throwing waves of enemies at you before each of their forgettable boss battles.
As is the case in other open-world games, there are lots of side objectives you can do outside of the main missions, but it feels like filler rather than worthwhile tasks that are helping you in your goal to defeat LEGION. Equally, the world isn’t worth exploring outside of looking for shards to help level up your characters, which feels like a missed opportunity as the game’s traversal system of triple jumps, dashes and wall scaling — the traversal skills vary from Agent to Agent — are fun to play around with. There’s also the use of the Agents vehicles that come complete with talking AI to get around Seoul’s streets.
Where Agents of Mayhem
really shines is in the bombastic combat. Gunplay is slick and easy to master, and things can quickly become hectic when you’re surrounded by enemies. With your special abilities, it won’t be long before the screen is full of explosions and colour. There’s a decent variety of enemy types that you’ll find yourself fighting, and with 15 difficulty levels available, you’ll be able to find a sweet spot where the game feels challenging enough but you still feel like a squad of wrecking machines. There’s also the option to replay each of the game’s missions on different difficulties which adds some replayability if you wish to test yourself further.
The game is unfortunately not without its bugs. It's possible you may get stuck on loading screens. Once when I headed back into the Agents' base the screen went completely black for a couple of minutes before loading properly, some of the achievements didn't pop when they should have, forcing me to repeat actions, and most annoyingly, mission markers in some of the LEGION lairs didn't show, forcing me to explore every area in order to progress.Agents of Mayhem
offers a nice spread of achievements. The majority are earned through completing the game’s main missions and levelling up your Agents, with a few thrown in for experiencing some of the open world side missions without, thankfully, forcing you to keep doing them. There’s some exploration needed for collecting all of the game’s shards
, and one for completing all of the missions on difficulty level seven
or above, which will be a lot easier than it sounds once you find a squad with whom you are comfortable.
SummaryAgents of Mayhem
offers fast-paced and mindless fun filled with Volition’s signature crude humour, but elements of it make it feel like a missed opportunity. The open world setting seems lifeless compared to games of its kind, the missions are extremely repetitive and there are a few bugs that will need addressing. Still, the impressive array of weapons and abilities, as well as the diversity of the different Agents on offer adds a level of depth that will help to keep you playing to the end. It's far from perfect, but if you can stand the repetition, there's enough left over to blow up and make you laugh.
- Diverse cast of Agents
- Fast-paced and fun combat
- Impressive shooting mechanics
- Repetitive missions
- Lifeless open world
- Occasional bugs
The reviewer spent approximately 30 hours running wild in Seoul while taking down LEGION, earning 42 of the game's 49 available achievements. A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for this review.