This review is an unedited version of the review written by Zombie Dredd and published in the Tech Magazine: Issue 51 November 2017.
Ridiculous. Fun. And slightly confusing. These are just a few words that can be used to describe the latest open world game from Volition. If you’re familiar with the developer’s previous work, Saints Row, you shouldn’t be at all surprised by the description. Agents of Mayhem is Saints Row on Crackdown with lashings of Saturday morning action cartoons sprinkled into the mix for good measure.
This third person shooter is over-the-top action almost all of the time. This is thanks to the variety of characters and their individual characteristics and abilities available to complete your mission against the forces of evil known as Legion. You can squad up three of the 12 available agents as you wish but it’s likely you will find a mix you like the most and stick with it. This decision may actually be determined more about how much you can survive their specific clichéd types and personalities. However, that’s exactly the reason Agents of Mayhem exists. It’s a parody and has no qualms at pointing and laughing at others – and more importantly – itself.
Set in a futuristic version of Seoul, South Korea, the game features a main story alongside side missions, characters missions and the usual open world fare of racing, capture and collection objectives. All the completed objectives (and general destruction) award character and Agency experience points which allow for upgrading of your already slightly superhuman agents into almost indestructible versions of themselves.
Weapons, abilities, tech and vehicles all add to this battle for the city (and ultimately the world), where collateral damage seems to go unnoticed between the explosions and high speed chases. It really is all fun and games even when the public get hurt. The city is not however the liveliest one ever developed but it does live vertically too (unlike a few other open world games). Thankfully your agents have the ability to triple jump and dash, making points not accessible to a normal human just another place for yet another explosive encounter.
Graphically, the game attempts to echo the cartoons it is inspired by. Gameplay uses a cel shaded style and many of the cutscenes are fully animated, but there are some issues in the graphics department. Slight stuttering, frame rate drops and pop-up occur when the action goes into overdrive and the camera angle can also be a bane at times. However, it’s clear that sometimes you don’t need to see what you’re shooting to actually shoot it. And generally, as long as you coolly walk away from the explosions happening around you, you’ve achieved your action hero badge haven’t you?
Agents of Mayhem is not the kind of game you should consider if you prefer your games serious, grounded and polished to a shine. It is a game that despite a few technical faults and repetitive gameplay elements proves just as good a distraction as those good old action cartoons used to. And let’s be fair, those were pretty ridiculous, fun and slightly confusing too. But you still watched them.
Available for: PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC
Distributed by: Apex Interactive