Publisher: Deep Silver
Genre: Action, Third Person Shooter, RPG
Rating: M for Mature
Platforms: PS4, PC, Xbox One
Featuring an original storyline, over-the-top open-world gameplay, and the look-and-feel of a distinctive Saturday Morning Cartoon, Agents of Mayhem delivers open world action from the genius (insane?) minds behind the Saints Row franchise. Meet the Agents of M.A.Y.H.E.M.—the Multinational Agency for Hunting Evil Masterminds—a diverse assortment of unique and quirky super agents recruited from around the world to thwart the destructive schemes of the evil supervillain organization L.E.G.I.O.N.—the League of Evil Gentlemen Intent on Obliterating Nations.
In a massive and unprecedented global assault, LEGION has taken control over the nations of the world, and the only force left to stop them is MAYHEM Led by the mysterious Persephone Brimstone,who may or may not have once been part of LEGION herself, MAYHEM’s elite super agents are called to the city of Seoul, South Korea. Led by LEGION Minister Doctor Babylon and his diabolical lieutenants, a nefarious plot is set in motion to build a world-altering device that will grant unrivaled power to the supervillain organization.
F-Bombs, drinking, smoking, and sexual innuendo are prevalent in Agents of Mayhem as the game wears its heart on its sleeve and has absolutely no filter in its attempt to illicit laughs. There are cutscenes between major story beats that are portrayed in Saturday morning cartoon style comic strips. One of these actually implies that a main character may have once starred in a pornographic film before he got his big break as part of MAYHEM. Players will be shown scenes, and there is dialogue that implies sex though nothing extremely explicit is shown as all the naughty bits are covered up by bags of cocaine or a sack of cash. There is blood in the game, but very little gore in actual gameplay. However, though some of the cut-scenes are pretty gruesome. All in all though, Agents of Mayhem has about what you’d expect from a game set within the Saints Row universe: plenty of raunchy, violent, over the top humor filled with expletives and sexual innuendo.
Agents of Mayhem (AoM) looks and feels exactly like a Saturday morning cartoon that might have appeared on MTV rather than Disney. It is equal parts G.I. JOE mixed with a little bit of Deadpool, with just a dash of South Park thrown in. Simply put, AoM is what Crackdown 2 should have been. AoM combines everything players love about Crackdown, including the urge to track down a plethora of shiny collectibles, overpowered heroes to blow stuff up with, and it even includes Agency vehicles and an assortment of gadgets that can be upgraded over time.
The story starts off with the three main MAYHEM heroes facing off against the evil Dr. Babylon and his LEGION minions: Hollywood, former actor turned super agent; Hardtack, a grizzled Navy soldier; and Fortune, a spunky Brazilian native who has a penchant for hacking. The first mission acts as a tutorial of sorts and helps acclimate players to this older, yet familiar style of gameplay. Each agent can be switched out on the fly, but players can only control one hero at a time. After killing a certain number of enemies or completing mission objectives, players will fill up their Mayhem meter allowing them to unleash an ultimate attack that will either clear the entire room, buff the player’s entire team, or debuff nearby enemies and turn them into simple cannon fodder. The introductory missions culminate in a boss battle against Dr. Babylon himself (or D-Bab as the agents call him). In typical fashion, Dr. Babylon cuts a hasty retreat and the heroes are left to clean up the mess he and LEGION have left behind in their initial attack on Seoul.
From here, the game’s world opens up, and players are free to tackle missions, recruit other agents, or take on challenges like races or combat trials. Recruitment missions offer a look into each new agents back story and once complete will unlock that character for use on the player’s team. As players continue to use specific agents in the field, eventually each agent will have a mission specific to them appear on the mission board. These are similar to Mass Effect’s Loyalty Missions in that they offer more exposition on certain character motivations and backstories as well as unlock new outfits and weapon skins for a specific hero. For example, Hardtack, Fortune, and Hollywood have a special mission exclusive to the three of them that allows players to unlock their Franchise Force outfits and weapon skins which provide additional stat boosts and team buffs when the three are grouped together on the player’s current team. This is similar to the team boosts that occurred when certain characters were grouped together in the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance games.
Combat and general gameplay are mostly reminiscent of Crackdown as each character rockets into the air with double and even triple jumps as well as an air dash or the ability to run up walls and buildings. This adds an enhanced since of verticality and ensures that the game never feels slow, and that traversing from mission to mission never feels like a chore. However, if players prefer, they can summon their agency vehicle for an even faster method of transportation. Each character has a flashy animation that occurs as long as they stand in a specific spot when the agency car races to pick them up. The agency vehicle even talks to the agents in a humorous nod to KITT from Knight Rider.
One new mechanic that AoM brings to the table includes procedurally generated layouts for LEGION lairs. LEGION lairs are peppered across the overworld map and can only be found by scanning the player’s surroundings for a potential hidden entrance. Once inside, the maze-like layout changes each time, though unfortunately, the overall aesthetics are the same with white walls with clearly marked red explosive barrels everywhere. This is true despite which supervillain lair you are currently infiltrating. However, to break up the monotony are hidden rooms that can be found in each of these lairs. These rooms contain rare weapon skins, vehicle blueprints, or crafting materials. LEGION lair segments can be a bit of a slog at times as they often turn into simple shootouts and feel like they are there for no other reason than to allow players to grind for experience and a chance at some rare loot. However, some of these dungeons are tied to story missions and may end in a boss fight, or players may be tasked with hacking into a satellite to steal missile launch codes to prevent LEGION from launching another attack. These dungeon excursions were far more enjoyable as they expanded on the story and added more to the overall experience.
Hidden footlockers can be found throughout Seoul and in the aforementioned dungeons. These contain various items for upgrading characters, unlocking new agency vehicles, or providing players with weapon and character skins. You have your standard rarity system here. White is common, green is uncommon, blue is special, purple is rare, and orange is legendary. Aside from the loot that can be used to build out characters, players will be collecting shards that are hidden throughout Seoul, much like the orbs in Crackdown. These shards can be used to permanently upgrade certain stats for each hero or buff an agent’s passive abilities. For every ten of these shards collected players can create a core that can be used to permanently upgrade a hero. Gadgets and LEGION Tech can also be purchased at the Ark, MAYHEM’s base of operations.
Gadgets can change each hero in significant ways from adding a healing factor to an agent’s secondary attack to causing a certain weapon to freeze or slow enemies. Like the agents, gadgets can be swapped out on the fly and players can mix and match gadgets and gear to build each hero to their liking. LEGION Tech act similar to runes and gems in Diablo as they allow players to slot LEGION tech into specific pieces of gear to further enhance a certain agent’s play style. This could mean allowing better accuracy and double damage when firing from the hip, or it could allow a character to reload faster so they can keep on kicking LEGION butt.
While there are 13 agents in all; AoM is not finished when each agent is collected. Most can be obtained about four to five story missions in. As mentioned previously, after being recruited, each agent has a loyalty mission of sorts which expands upon their personal story and also unlocks various character and weapon skins as well as gadgets and possibly even LEGION tech for that character. Players can even assign agents they are not currently using to passive missions all around the world. These are timed and the assigned agent will typically return with experience and intel. Once enough intel is gathered a special operation is unlocked that will allow players to assault a larger, tougher LEGION lair that yields better rewards upon completion.
There is no co-op or competitive multiplayer in AoM though the game does have an online component. Players can connect to others online to work together to complete special challenges like killing a certain number of enemies, finding a specific number of shards, or defeating a specific boss. Some of these missions are changed out daily while others might last for a week or more. This mechanic encourages players to return again and again to continue building and leveling up the Ark and their agents.
Luckily, players don’t have to worry about leveling up characters that they don’t play with that often as all experience is shared. This means that if players stick to the main team of Hardtack, Fortune, and Hollywood, other heroes like Braddock and Daisy will gain experience even if they are left behind on the Ark. This allows for equal leveling among the fairly diverse roster and prevents players from feeling forced into picking a certain team composition or play style.
All in all, Agents of Mayhem is the game every Crackdown fan has wanted since Crackdown 3 was announced. It features the same quirky, yet hilariously destructive, gameplay that Xbox’s exclusive series is best known for and combines it with Volition’s crazy, over the top Saints Row universe (I know it is in the same universe as the Ultor Corporation is mentioned many times, the Saints logo is featured prominently, and Hollywood sounds and acts just like the main character in every Saints Row game). Fans of Saints Row, Crackdown, and super hero games in general will find a lot to do within AoM’s world. From races in the agency vehicles, to climbing challenges, and hundreds of shiny shards to find and collect players will not find themselves yearning for things to do in their battle against LEGION’s forces.
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The Bottom Line
Fans of Saints Row and Crackdown will find common ground in their love for this game. With all the humor and over the top antics of Saints Row, and the explosive, action, super powered combat of Microsoft's Crackdown franchise, Agents of Mayhem is a rip roaring good time for fans of third person, sandbox shooters.