Agents of Mayhem Review
The world is being threatened by an dominatingly oppressive criminal organisation known as L.E.G.I.O.N. There’s only one hope against a foe such as this. It’s time to chew gum and kick ass… It’s time to unleash M.A.Y.H.E.M!
Agents of MAYHEM is the new open world action adventure game developed by Volition and published by Deep Silver that’s been released for our enjoyment, and worldwide, as of 18 August 2017. The game shares its universe alongside Saints Row and Red Faction. Development for the game started shortly after the release of Saints Row IV, introducing many new elements into the fray seperating this title from the Saints Row games, such as making it possible to play as multiple different characters. The inspiration behind this was as a result of fans deciding to cosplay as the supporting characters instead of the main protagonists. Just comes to show how powerful a fan-base can be!
The story revolves around the Super Agents and the goings-on of the organisation known as M.A.Y.H.E.M. (or Multinational AgencY Hunting Evil Masterminds), founded by Persephone Brimstone, and their mission to thwart the plans of L.E.G.I.O.N. (the League of Evil Gentlemen Intent on Obliterating Nations) and ultimately take them, and their mysterious leader, the Morningstar, down once and for all. The story takes place after the events of the “recreate Earth” ending of Saints Row IV’s stand-alone expansion Gat Out Of Hell.
The game starts off in a near-future version of Seoul in South Korea. You immediately get introduced to the “Franchise Force”; Fortune, Hardtack, and Hollywood, each with their own unique personalities and preferred play-style. The three get sent on a mission by Persephone to infiltrate one of LEGION’s Lairs, find Dr. Babylon and kill him. After a fight with Babylon, and a mishap with one of the Dark Matter cores in the facility, Babylon gets away, forcing you to go after a Zero-Point Dynamo he sent out into Seoul, which turns out to be a Golem upon its landing, after attracting many Unstable Crystals to its spinning core. You take down the Golem, saving the city, but not without damage having been done to surrounding areas. Here is where MAYHEM lives up to its name. After this, you find yourself back in the Ark, the Base of Operations of MAYHEM, get a slight talking to by Persephone, and then get introduced to a few of the core game mechanics, namely the Armory, where you upgrade your agents, and Research and Development, where you create Gremlin Tech (named after the R&D Technician), and later on LEGION Tech, to aid you in the battles to come. You then make your way to Mission Command and make your way back to the city, where the wide open world opens before you, and proceed with the next Mission to track down Babylon and the rest of his villainous cronies to put an end to LEGION’s evil ways.
Here comes the first warning for fans of the Saints Row series. If you’re expecting a Saints Row sequel in this, then do away with all assumptions right here and now, because this is pretty much a new IP that merely shares the Saints Row universe. Heck, you can even count it as a Spin-off title, like the Developers have stated. I didn’t have much expectations going into the game, except that it looks like it was going to have some quirky and funny characters needing to deal with serious situations, and boy were those expectations met with hilariously over-excited enthusiasm. From the moment of launching the game and being introduced to the first three Agents, I was continuously entertained by the antics and the dynamics of the three teammates, especially Hollywood’s oversized ego getting in the way of literally every situation. The humour in the game surpassed my initial expectations too as a result. Every character has a unique personality with quirks, even the serious characters. Another perk of this game so far, in my opinion, is that there’s less of Saints Row’s sexualised humour, since crude jokes like that pretty much grows old fast to me. In fact, some of the humour is a lot more cleverly “implied” than it is blatantly expressed.
The game is centralised around story, so much so that even though the game is open-world, I found myself ignoring a lot of the open-world while playing, being so engrossed in the story. There is even story within the story, where you get to find out about every character’s backstory, and other personal events that take place inbetween the Main Missions, such as Braddock hunting down her old Corps soldiers that she helped train who ended up joining LEGION, or Rama’s mission to find a cure for the Dark Matter plague in her Homeland of India. The developers wanted the players to form a strong connection with each of the characters, and my word, I think they did a good job in this. Characters I didn’t think I would favour, I ended up really liking and I now have a hard-time choosing which 3 Agents to send out into the field and play as, because I don’t know who I like more. Everyone’s abilities are pretty darn fun too, and being able to switch between Agents mid-battle to make use of these abilities in tactical succession makes you feel really badass. Naturally, you need the right combination for your play-style.
My current favourite party has to be Gat, Braddock, and Fortune, as I find these have a good balance for being able to take out Shielded and Armored units, whilst being able to utilise Stunning abilities and being able to take out huge crowds of enemies through each one’s MAYHEM Ability (which is kinda of like an Ultimate Ability). Gat isn’t part of the original roster of Agents, but is part of the DLC – “Johnny Gat Agent Pack”. Like with the other Agents, you have his “Recruitment” Mission, where you learn how he got recruited into MAYHEM and what his personal story mission is, where he gets permanently added to the roster for use in future missions. Including the first three that you get introduced to at the start of the game, there are twelve Agents to choose from (this number excludes Gat, since he is only attainable through the DLC). You need to unlock them through, what are referred to in-game as, “Special Investigation” Missions. You get the chance to do more of these missions the further you progress with the Main Storyline. As you unlock Agents, you’ll get a feel for the dynamics of the combat and see which Agents suit your play-style.
Unleash the MAYHEM
Every character is customisable, and has multiple customisable settings for almost every avenue. Cosmetically, you can unlock Skins for your Agent and their Weapon. Gameplay-wise, you unlock Gadgets for your Agents after a mission, and after they level up. Yes! There is a leveling up system in Agents of MAYHEM too! Though, to be honest, you hardly ever notice your XP gauge racking up points amidst all the mayhem, which often leads you to be surprised every time you get the massive pop-up announcement saying “Congratulations!” and then whatever Level your agents have all progressed to. Sometimes it’s a relief to see, since your Agent might be running low on Health, and then the Level-Up refills all of your gauges in the nick of time. The type of Gadget you unlock can get placed into one of three slots; Special – which adds a buff to your Special Ability (not to be confused with the MAYHEM Ability), Weapon – which adds a buff for your Agent’s weapon, and Passive – which will add a Passive buff to your Agent. You can unlock many Gadgets for each of these, but only one can be active for each. You are also able to attain Cores through missions or from gathering ten Unstable Crystals in the environment, to unlock Core Upgrades for each Agent. There are three to choose from, and all three can be active at once when they’ve been unlocked, in contrast to the Gadget Upgrades.
Furthermore, each character is specialised in specific roles. Fortune, for example, is a fast-hitter and takes down Shielded Enemies or Objects with ease. Hardtack is pretty much a tank, being able to take loads of damage without flinching, but has a short range with his shotgun, and takes down Armored Units and Objects easily too. Rama speciliases in sniping, and deals loads of damage with her bow and her damage-over-time abilities, but has little to no shields and is pretty squishy. Every Agent has specialties, and it’s up to you to find which combo fits you the best. The Gadgets will also aid in strengthening them, and even more so, the Core Upgrades. Finally, you can add personal upgrades to each agent, such as +0.5% HP Regen out of combat, and add benefits to everybody in the party like +10% MAYHEM Damage, or +1%XP Gained, per point spent in that slot. This can be done in the Ark at the Armory for all the Agents you have available, or in the field when your out in the world for only the Agents present in your party. Couple this with the Gremlin and/or Legion Tech, and you can build yourself an unstoppable party! During this course, and every time you start a new mission, you get the opportunity to adjust the game difficulty level. The higher the difficulty (more than 20 difficulty levels, of which you start on 2!), the more powerful enemies becomes, but the more XP and Cash rewards you will gain!
You are also able to “commandeer” civilian vehicles for transport purposes, but the only time this ever gets done is in the beginning, because after that, MAYHEM provides you with an Agency vehicle that has far more health than civilian vehicles, and is twice as fast even. It’s a lot of fun driving these vehicles, when you get used to the controls. At first I had difficulty controlling the vehicle, but the controls make a lot more sense than I anticipated, fairly standard stuff to be honest, like to go slower around corners (especially when drifting). I had loads of laughs at the civilians however. Sometimes, unprovoked even, the civilians will drive over other cars, or skip traffic lights. The main focus is on running and gunning though, and you can traverse the streets and rooftops of buildings by triple-jumping (one standard jump, and two boosted jumps from some type of energy module, I think) and dashing. You can unlock Vehicle Schematics from Side Missions and even play around in the “Wreck Room” where you enter a Virtual Reality-scape to eliminate opponents of specific difficulties to gain Cash and Crystals. You use the cash to upgrade the Agency, which adds buffs to every single Agent who is already part of the Agency and will yet be unlocked. You are able to do this by leveling up the Agency itself too.
With everything that’s been said, I can say that I have pleasantly enjoyed this game. It’s action-packed with an interesting Graphic design. The Graphics aren’t overly detailed, but the theme that the developers were going for was “Saturday Morning cartoons” and “Superhero films”, and I think the Graphics fit this theme, and its still quite pretty. The Sounds and Music in the game fits well too. I’ve had only one crash-to-desktop, and I’ve heard of and seen a bug or two, but I’m sure the developers are fixing it as you read this review. The comedy is entertainingly goofy, even though sometimes lewd, and the voice-overs are fantastic! The unlocks don’t feel tedious to get, which is often a problem in games with lots of unlockables. I’d say this game is well worth money spent! You can get yours, at the time of writing this review, for R589.00 on Steam for Windows, and R825.00 for PS4 and XBox One at BTGames.