The Saints Row franchise has taken a very odd turn since the third installment. I know what you’re thinking, “But, Agents of Mayhem isn’t a Saints Row game, Randy.” Ah, I know this, but it does dwell within the same universe. Agents of Mayhem is a single player, action-RPG shooter game from Deep Silver and Volition—the same teams that brought Saints Row to life. You play as agents who are part of the organization known as “Mayhem,” a team that keeps the world safe from danger.
You will have the choice between twelve different agents—thirteen if you pre-ordered the game. Mayhem is up against Legion and the Ministry of Pride, who is plotting to take over the world. Your travels send the agents to Seoul, South Korea where Legion plans on leveling the city, amongst other nefarious plans. Can you muster up the courage to take on Legion and stop their evil plans?
Agents of Mayhem has a great way to start you into the game. You get control of three agents: Hollywood, the actor turned agent; Fortune, a hacker/tech head; and Hardtack, an agent attached to the US Navy with nautical-themed gear. You play each of these agents individually as the game teaches you about primary attacks, special abilities, and the Mayhem ability. These are all different depending on the agent you are currently playing as. The combat is fun, though it hasn’t really boasted much of a challenge on the normal difficulty for each mission. I haven’t really been in a place of dire straits in the midst of combat. Enemies easily fall to certain abilities, like Braddock’s empowered gun that melts through basic Legion foot soldiers.
Your Mayhem ability is charged by the amount of Mayhem you create, ironically enough. During the first part of the game and continued on throughout, anywhere with explosives was an area I didn’t like going into, especially in close quarters. When too many explosions were set off, it really took away from what I was doing in the game. It was hard to pinpoint enemies—or even my reticle—when everything was going to shit.Other than that, the combat is smooth and you can switch between the other two chosen agents at any time. This is great for when you are low on health, you can just swap to another agent, who regenerates their shield when out of combat.
Other than that, the combat is smooth and you can switch between the other two chosen agents at any time. This is great for when you are low on health. You can just swap to another agent who regenerates their shield when out of combat.
Agents also have access to Legion tech and Gremlin tech. Legion tech consists of different passive buffs for each agent that you can craft to give them different effects. Gremlin tech offers items that you can craft and use mid battle. Think of them as one-time use items like buffs and debuffs. Speaking of agents, I want to talk about how fucking awesome the characters in this game are.
Each agent comes with their own personality and back story. Each time you do a mission to unlock a new agent, you get a nice little introduction to who they were before everything went to shit. This gives each character a depth of personality you don’t typically see in these types of games. Each agent has their own recorded lines of dialogue, as well, and will interact with each other. Say, one agent is talking to Friday, who is like the mission guide at the Ark (Mayhem’s home base). If you switch to another agent, they will continue to talk to Friday, with their own lines of dialogue, as if nothing happened.
Each agent also has three slots that can be changed out: a weapon slot, a special slot, and a passive slot. Each of these can have something different equipped in them. Depending on what that is, it will change certain stats or even the ability that it is slotted to. I was expecting each agent to have their own talent tree type of progression to spend points, but with twelve characters, that would be a daunting task. So, they decided to give each agent five different things to spend upgrade points in, one of which will have a whole squad benefit. These upgrades will have you building different teams to see which passives work well with each other. You can find new gadgets to pick up, which are those slotted items I just spoke about, as well as earn them from missions.
You can also cosmetically change what the agents look like from various different skins. The skins in this game are some of the best skins I’ve seen in a video game to date. I may be a little biased because of my love for comic books, but who cares? The game comes with the Cosplay skin pack, which gives you skins based off different comics. Without spoiling too much, Hollywood has a skin called “Man of Iron” that basically turns him into Tony Stark and it is fucking phenomenal.
One big issue I have with the design is the missing aspect of multiplayer. Agents of Mayhem is marketed as a single player game and it is just that. I feel like this game would do excellently with the choice of a co-op feature. I would’ve loved to pair different agents together to see how they played. Volition, if you see this, you guys should definitely add something like this (hint hint).
As diverse as the agents are, I wish that the massive, open world of Seoul followed suit. Coming from Saints Row and its world as diverse as it was, I was expecting a little more from Agents of Mayhem. The environment is definitely stylish, boasting an almost cel-shaded graphic design similar to the vein of Crackdown (but prettier). There is a lot of purple going on, too, as to throw back to the original Stillwater Saints.
There is a driving aspect in Agents of Mayhem, as well, though it isn’t as fluid as the previous Saints Row games. You have different agency vehicles that you have at your disposal, but most of the vehicles require you to find a certain amount of blueprints before you can build the vehicle. This feels a lot like Crackdown in this sense of having the upgrading vehicles. Although they don’t upgrade, there is a slew of different rides at your disposal, from speedsters to bulky truck-like vehicles that can take a hit or two. I give them style points, but I almost put driving in the back seat when I need to traverse the world because of how clunky it is. With each agent being able to triple jump—and certain ones able to dash mid-air—I am almost never driving unless I am prompted to.
When you do missions you are normally treated to a nice cartoon. These help move the story along nicely. The story isn’t the best by any stretch, but it also isn’t the worst story I’ve ever played through. The characters are enough for me to carry the story out. If the characters didn’t have the personality they did, the story would just be another run-of-the-mill “good guys vs. bad guys” kind of thing.
Agents of Mayhem is a fun romp throughout Seoul, South Korea with enough personality and destruction to keep even the most hardcore of players coming back for more. Now, if you excuse me, I have some mayhem to cause!
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Review statement: The copy of the game was supplied by the developer for the sake of this review.