Set in the Saints Universe, Agents of Mayhem is the newest IP from Volition and it takes far more from the Saints of Row series than just the universe but also manages to craft its own identity – it’s no mere clone – but I do feel it borrows more heavily from Crackdown, which is no bad thing.
Comedy, action and super powers, what more could you want from an open world game? The ability to fly would certainly be top of my list, but rather than give the agents the OTT powers of the Saints, Agents of Mayhem is more routed to the style Crackdown – there is even a central ‘agency’ and team of agents.
Agents of Mayhem’s band of miscreants are far from good, instead, they are the lesser of two evils – it’s the ultimate tale of bad vs. evil – and together as part of three man teams, their bad habits and terrible jokes are the world’s best chance at stopping LEGION.
Set in Seoul, South Korea, the city looks great and while it isn’t large in size, there is a lot of verticality to it. From exploring skyscrapers and building sites to beating the many underground LEGION lairs. There is plenty to explore, but unfortunately it all looks the same. Underground lairs follow very similar layouts and the city is soulless and lacks any district identity. Instead, the game has its sights firmly set on giving you an experience that changes purely based on the agents you use.
This does mean that Agents of Mayhem can become very monotonous should you jump in with the same three agents. Missions follow similar routes and objectives, it’s only the boss battles that provide any deviation from the rinse and repeat formula. It is fun though and like the many characters in the game, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, which helps Agents of mayhem stand out from some of the other open world games that pride themselves on giving you a huge playground to explore.
Tagging three agents in and out is the main strength of the game. Essentially giving you three lives, the squad mechanic also allows you to bring in a diverse team of skills should you wish. Each character has a unique style, weapon loadout and various abilities to choose from. You can even embark on a story-driven mission for each of them. As each character levels up new skills become available and your only consideration is which skill to choose. This makes the progression of characters very ‘lite’ when compared to other character driven games – there is no complex XP tree to explore or branching choices to choose from, which I feel is a real missed opportunity.
Another missed opportunity is the use of gadgets, or rather, the lack of using them. As you play, resources can be collected from fallen enemies and can be used to craft gadgets, which can be slotted to the LB button. Each gadget may only be used up to the number you have crafted and to slot a new gadget you must go into the inventory screen, not really ideal when you’re in the heat of battle. I instead relied on my team’s abilities, missing out on the many zany gadgets you can craft. This doesn’t mean resources are completely useless. Once discovered, LEGION tech can be crafted and slotted onto each agent’s abilities essentially providing an additional buff to their attacks.
With a great cartoon cel-shaded edge, the action of Agents of Mayhem is slick. Levels are full of explosions and there are plenty of characters to recruit and choose from. While the game does sway a little too close to racial stereotypes and lewd humour, I really enjoyed playing as part of my own Thunderbirds come Ben 10 cartoon show. It’s just a shame that Agents of Mayhem doesn’t have any real online functionality beyond cooperatively completing contract targets – taking a squad of three agents into Seoul with your friends would have been an absolute blast.