Agents of Mayhem is a spin-off of the Saints Row series, set within the same universe there’s nods left, right and centre from mentions of Stillwater and Ultor, to appearances from Saints characters Pierce and everyone’s favourite Johnny Gat. Similarities can also be found within the dialogue, with Agents of Mayhem sharing the same tongue-in-cheek style as Saints Row.
Set in the futuristic city of Seoul, one of the many taken control of by LEGION, a super villain group intent on taking over the world. You control members of MAYHEM, a group of agents who set out to put a stop to LEGION’s plans. It sounds like the plot of every Saturday morning cartoon ever, and it plays up to this, as the majority of the cutscenes look just like a cartoon from the mid 90’s. It’s a striking difference to the main visuals of the game, but it works well.
As far as gameplay goes Agents of Mayhem is an open world affair, but instead of one main character there’s 12. You have only 3 to start out with and can switch between them at any time during gameplay, a sort of ‘tagging in’ if you like, each character has their own weapons and special moves, akin to Hero shooter characters such as Overwatch. You can level up each character, and spend points on things such as special cool down and health regen times, you can also unlock new gadgets as you progress through the game. Gadgets come in three forms, Special, Weapon and Passive, and can give a variety of effects from bonus damage and health increases to name a few, and vary from Agent to Agent.
I mentioned earlier that you start out with just 3 Agents, you unlock new ones by completing their corresponding mission, these act like a mini back story to each Agent giving the reasons they joined Mayhem, it does help a little with getting the player to connect with the Agents, I’ve also mentioned previously that you can switch between 3 characters during gameplay, while the game does have its own squads within the Mayhem group, you can mix and match them however you see fit. Coupled with the upgrades available to each Agent you can create a group that fits the best with your play style. There are however some missions that require specific Agents, as an example Joule, Fortune and Yeti are the only Agents that can attempt Hard Hacks.
While not traversing the city taking on LEGION you can head to The ARK, the Agents of Mayhem’s base of operations. There’s a few things you can do here, from taking part in simulation battles in the Wreck Room, Upgrade your Agents in the Armoury, Build Tech in the R+D Lab using materials you pick up off of enemies in the world, purchase Agency upgrades from Requisitions, these are one time purchases that affect all Agents, including increased xp earned and more. Finally there’s the Vehicle Bay, here you can set which Agency vehicle you want while out in the city, build new ones from schematics picked up from chests, and even set unlocked skins. You can of course set your next mission from The ARK resulting in a cool mini scene of your 3 Agents making the jump down to Seoul.
Missions do have a bit of variety, especially during the main quest line which does feel a little slow at the beginning, I think that while I enjoyed the stories, the Agent missions during the first part of the game really slowed down the main quest line, mainly due to them being the same, find secret LEGION lair in this area missions. These as the name suggests take part in secret underground locations around the map, and are all pretty much the same experience. I did find them a little tedious after a while, as were they not only repetitive, they just felt out of place in an open world game. Once you do get them out of the way though, there are some enjoyable missions as the game starts to pick up pace around the half way point.
There have been a couple of times the game has also reminded me of Crackdown, I think there’s little glimpses within the Agents themselves, the obvious one being the word Agent, but also the way in which you can travel around the city, as not only are there vehicles, but each character can triple jump, enabling you to climb buildings. While not quite the same as jumping large distances like in Crackdown, it does have the same feeling, especially while trying to collect the Dark Matter Shards, Agility Orbs anyone?
The elephant in the room with Agents of Mayhem has to be its lack of co-op. While I would have loved to have jumped in a friends game and played through the story with them, it’s just not possible. There’s lots of speculating that can be done as to why it’s not there, I’m going to put it down to the way in which you play the game using 3 Agents and having the ability to change between them. I can’t see how this would work in a co-op situation, without compromising what it does for the gameplay. You can however perform contracts, which can be opened up to friends and/or the public in which you have a variety of timed tasks including kill x amount of enemies etc. While not in the same game, players on the same contract collectively tally up the numbers needed in their own games.
The game plays smoothly, I’ve had no issues with performance (There was a patch installed when I first played). I did have to go and mess with the settings a little just for my own preferences, turning off motion blur, and fiddling a little with the sensitivity. Load times are also acceptable. I did encounter one problem where an open world event messed with the mission I was on causing me to fail it. but a quick load from checkpoint and an extra minute or two dealing with the event solved the issue.
Visually I really like Agents of Mayhem, I’ve already mentioned the Cartoon styled cutscenes, the overall game visuals are also decent. The city has a sterile feel about it which fits well with the futuristic setting. Audio is what you would expect, with top notch voice acting and fitting music and jingles.