Creators of the Saint’s Row series, Volition, are back with their latest game Agents of Mayhem and it’s quite an odd one to put it in simple terms. After Saint’s Row IV, I was honestly curious where Volition would take the series next and it seemed the answer to that question was a spin-off that takes place loosely in the same universe, or should I say an alternate universe. Pierce Washington from Saint’s Row II managed to unite the gangs of the original Saint’s Row before all hell broke loose, basically erasing everything that happened in that series. Instead, the game focuses on the organization known as M.A.Y.H.E.M. (Multinational AgencY Hunting Evil Masterminds), whose main mission is to stop the supervillain organization L.E.G.I.O.N. (the League of Evil Gentlemen Intent on Obliterating Nations) from destroying the world’s nations.
Quite honestly, the rest of the story from there isn’t really much to write home about. Cutscenes are either shown through in-game footage or G.I. Joe inspired animated cutscenes. All you need to know is that the Agents of Mayhem are currently in Seoul, South Korea as that is the next location on L.E.G.I.O.N.’s mind. While we’re on the story, I’ll also discuss the writing as it’s taken a substantial hit from that of the Saint’s Row games. Volition always dealt in humor that bordered on the line of too childish/corny, but for the most part they pulled it off. I don’t believe it’s the case in Agents of Mayhem as much of the dialogue just isn’t good. There are parts where you can tell it’s suppose to be funny, but it just doesn’t hit. Each playable character has a unique personality to them as well as the villains and the supporting cast, some are okay, but some are closer to obnoxious. This is definitely the first negative aspect to the game.
To counter that, the 12 selectable characters have a good range to them gameplay wise. Each uses a different weapon and has a unique special ability and Mayhem ability. You can also gain two additional special abilities for each character, which vary status effects, damage outputs, and more. They also have their own set of weapon and passive upgrades to utilize. What some have in common though is their specialization, which allows certain agents to be better at dealing damage to armored enemies, shielded enemies, or even hack terminal more effectively. Each agent gains a secondary specialization once they reach Level 10 as well. To best suit the game, it encourages you to always have one of each major specialization with you since you’re able to have a group of 3 characters at any time, which you can switch between seamlessly in gameplay.
Where the game begins to fall apart, however, is that once you get into the game world with these characters, you’re faced with repetitive mission design and a bland open world. Most main story operations consist of three missions dealing with a L.E.G.I.O.N. lieutenant that you have to take out. These are the missions that provide the most variety in structure and are definitely the high points. Other than that, there are also operations to unlock new members of M.A.Y.H.E.M. In these, you first have to standardly do a mission that consist of a few side objectives and you’re then treated to a mission where you actually play as the character you’re about to unlock. After unlocking a character, you can do one more operation that further fleshes them out. The 12 characters are also canonically grouped out into four 3-man teams, once you finish all character related missions for each given team, you’re given a final mission to unlock that respective team’s signature outfits.
Outside of these missions, the major things you can do are collect 350 shards that help you upgrade your characters, capture a select number of L.E.G.I.O.N. outposts, and open up fast travel points. All that’s left to do in the open world after this point is repeatable side objectives, such as destroying L.E.G.I.O.N. machines and delivering cars to different locations. This all becomes very repetitive though and offers little reward after you’ve done them a few times. It feels like the game would’ve better been suited as mission based rather than in a open world, though even that wouldn’t have made the game better by much. Another giant issue is that L.E.G.I.O.N. has lairs hidden around Seoul that you can head into and clear out. These are interesting the first few times you do them, but you eventually head into them a lot during not only open world segments, but also during main story operations. They all look exactly the same and offer little variation, so dealing with them for most of the game gets very boring.
Agents of Mayhem feels like a game that wanted to be a lot of different things, but doesn’t really nail any of them down. It held my attention enough to finish up the story and all the character missions as the gameplay is fun, but upon wrapping things up, there isn’t much to go back to. I understand Volition wanting to try something new after making almost nothing but Saint’s Row games recently, but maybe this could’ve been thought out a bit better. It certainly does interest me in a game that actually does all this blending of genres right.
Agents of Mayhem – 3 out of 5
- 12 unique character playstyles
- Main operations and character focused operations are fun
- Lots of customization options in skill trees, equipment, and skins
- Repetitive mission design
- Bland open world
- Writing isn’t as funny as it thinks it is