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August 21, 2017 | by  | in Games |
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Agents of Mayhem

Developer: Volition

Publisher: Deep Silver

Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC (Windows)

Review copy supplied by publisher

 

The success of Overwatch seems to have spawned a new trend among developers, one which has frankly become necessary: large casts of diverse playable characters. While some may see this as a purely political move designed to appease certain online subcultures, I contend that it is a sign of the games industry learning from its mistakes and even maturing with its core audience.

But maturity isn’t in this game’s vocabulary. Instead, Agents of Mayhem is a balls-to-the-wall, outrageous, and not at all serious experience that is essentially the video game equivalent of saying “fuck it, give me another Jägerbomb, barkeep.” Considering this is a spinoff of the Saints Row series, those in the know should not find this surprising.

Set in a futuristic version of Seoul, the game follows the titular agents of M.A.Y.H.E.M., led by the mysterious Persephone Bromstone, as they fight to take down the supervillains of L.E.G.I.O.N. and their evil Minister of Pride, Doctor Babylon. With a pitch like that, it’s no wonder the story is something of a tongue-in-cheek cheese-fest reminiscent of ’80s action flicks, complete with incompetent henchmen, space lasers, and enough explosions to make Michael Bay jealous. It even comes complete with 2D animated cutscenes, just to add to the atmosphere of silliness.

Of course, with at least 12 characters to choose from (not including the pre-order exclusive characters), each with their own unique weapons and abilities, saving the world can take a backseat. Each agent has two story missions, allowing you to take the time to get to know their backstories and motivations, while simultaneously introducing you to their style of play. While some of the cast do feel like exaggerated stereotypes, I simply loved being around this bunch of misfits too much to even care. You’ll probably find at least one character you really like.

Adopting a similar open world layout to its parent series, the core gameplay has you exploring Seoul in teams of three, which you can switch between at any time. There is a high level of customisation options available to you, with each character having their own RPG-style progression systems. With the word “mayhem” in the title, you’d expect combat to be absolute chaos, and oh boy is it ever! While it definitely varies between characters, the gunplay is generally meaty and satisfying, especially if you’re lucky enough to pick up Johnny Gat, one of the pre-order exclusive characters, like I did. Driving is serviceable if not spectacular, and all characters have a triple jump, allowing for more aerial on-foot movement.

Unfortunately, outside of core story and character missions, there just isn’t that much to do; everything else just feels like busywork put in there to convince you the game has lots of content. It certainly doesn’t help that the world doesn’t exactly feel alive, like a Grand Theft Auto game does — what good is a sandbox if there are no toys to play with? Even the story missions have a certain repetition to them, with many of them featuring what feel like procedurally generated lairs that aren’t always interesting. I completed the main story and most of the character missions over approximately 16 hours, and I don’t really want to go back and get 100% completion, which, given how much I enjoyed the story, the characters, and the overall aesthetic, is a shame. The PC version of the game also appears to have some severe issues with slowdown and framerates dropping below 60FPS in certain situations, as well as with bugs across all platforms. I attribute these issues to the fact that I was playing a pre-release version, but it may affect your experience.

Regardless of this, it’s hard not to recommend Agents of Mayhem. If you enjoyed Saints Row, particularly the third and fourth instalments, then this will be right up your alley. If you can pick this one up cheaply, and once some of the niggling issues are fixed, then you are definitely going to have a rollicking good time, if only for a short while.

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