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Review: Agents of Mayhem (PS4)

Action Adventure Review
6

Fair

In all honesty, the Saints Row games became gaming junk food. They weren’t master classes in design or anything like that, but they did offer a jolly good time. Saints Row offered players wacky and wild world to explore, managing to create some enjoyable oddball experiences. Volition did a pretty good job with the Saints Row series yet we sometimes need to move on. We now enter the world of Agents of Mayhem, but is this new world filled with mayhem or mishaps?

Almost kinda Saints Row

It’s going to be difficult to leave the Saints Row comparisons behind when Agents of Mayhem greets you with a purple fleur-de-lis, but Volition has moved on and so should we. Yes, these games share a universe, but Agents of Mayhem is a very different game to their previous franchise. The game takes place in a futuristic Seoul, in a world under siege by the evil LEGION. The game’s story is rather simplistic and harkens back to 80s cartoons with its villain caricatures and even comic style cutscenes. Agents of Mayhem is very set in its style and manages to make it its own, with an enjoyable cartoon aesthetic. The game manages to look and feel pretty good, but that doesn’t stop it from letting itself down.

You’ll probably be hard done by looking for someone who doesn’t enjoy a bit of cheesy dialogue here and there, but it’s just not done very well in Agents of Mayhem. The game goes through its’ campaign trying to parody the whole G.I. Joe aesthetic but seemingly falling flat. The main story and villains don’t do much to make the game memorable, they largely lend to the game being forgettable. It doesn’t help that the missions feel quite repetitive, with the same locations being visited ad nauseam. While the game can look quite good at times, there are certain rooms that are overused and add to making the game feel like a chore.

The agents need more mayhem

There is, however, one saving grace in this regard. The actual agents of Agents of Mayhem are actually quite interesting, with side missions of their own. Each agent has their own set of side missions that let players get to know the characters better as well as the Mayhem organisation as a whole. These missions saved the day for the game and if only Agents of Mayhem made use of more scenarios like those for the main campaign, players would probably have a far more enjoyable experience. I don’t want to say that the game fails in the overall narrative department, it’s just that it doesn’t do anything with the interesting world at its disposal.

Even if the narrative component and scenarios of Agents of Mayhem are a hit-or-miss affair, the game can still be carried by some strong gameplay. Players are given a total selection of 12 agents who have their own unique sets of abilities who are made up into squads of three to be taken on missions. Each agent has their own customisable options that allow for players to really create squads who play towards player preferences. With each agent having their own personality and playstyle, Agents of Mayhem allows players to tackle the game’s missions however they feel most comfortable. The customisation options allow players to make agents play very differently compared to their stock settings and this makes brings a lot to the table. While the game’s missions did get a bit too repetitive, being able to change up how I approached things did manage to breathe a little life into the adventure.

Getting thrown into these combat situations on top of buildings and evil lairs give the game some of the life it needs, it’s just a pity it’s not enough.

The game plays exactly how you would expect a third person shooter to go, with a lot of the added mayhem one expects from Volition. This is where the game shines and where a lot of fun is to be had. Players will often find themselves switching out between squad members during firefights, getting the most out of each member’s unique abilities. Starting out with an archer before getting into the thick of things with a heavy shotgun user is a lot of fun. Getting thrown into these combat situations on top of buildings and evil lairs give the game some of the life it needs, it’s just a pity it’s not enough.

Agents of Mayhem is unfortunately bogged down by more monotony. While the game itself looks pretty good, with Seoul having quite a bit of colour, too much is reused to really appreciate the game. The more you play the game, the more reused rooms you’ll start to notice, which unfortunately bogs down the whole experience. I genuinely like the visuals, but it could have done with a bit of visual variety to make things more interesting. Then we get on to the audio and things seem to follow the same theme.

Hollow audio in the quiet

With the usual sound effects being about as good as one expects, you can feel the frenzy in firefights. With explosions, gunfire, and lasers going off all around you the frantic nature of the game is well captured. It’s just everything outside of that feels lackluster. The game’s soundtrack is sort of just there, not doing much to help the general atmosphere. The Saints Row games managed to have some exceptional moments with their soundtracks, it’s just unfortunate Agents of Mayhem is unable to do the same.

We could call it a self-aware Crackdown, but that would mean its parody felt impactful.

Where does that leave us? I guess the easiest way to explain it is a fun game that doesn’t seem to want you to have fun. We could call it a self-aware Crackdown, but that would mean its parody felt impactful. I loved Agents of Mayhem’s characters and gameplay, but its world put me off the experience. It’s serviceable to find some enjoyment, but beyond that, it struggles to carry itself for its duration. There’s a lot of depth to the game, with so much set up for it to succeed that it’s really a pity that it gets tripped up by its’ flaws. You can have fun with Agents of Mayhem and to a degree, it’s a solid experience. There are just a few too many poor design choices that stop it from being great.

Good

  • Frantic combat
  • Interesting Agents
  • Deep customisation

Bad

  • Repetitive missions
  • Lives in Saints Row's shadow
  • Forgettable story

Summary

When you begin to parody, you run the risk of becoming the joke yourself. While Volition mastered this, they, unfortunately, missed the mark with Agents of Mayhem. There's a lot of fun to be had here but the game itself doesn't seem to want you to have it. If you can head into Agents of Mayhem only wanting solid gameplay with some interesting characters, you're good to go. Anything more will bring mayhem to the experience.
6

Fair

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