Superheroes are on the rage right now and they’re ripe to be picked apart, and if there is one team that could do it extremely well and still make a great game, it is Volition – the team behind the Saints Row games.
Agents of Mayhem is just that. After resetting the world in Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell, Volition gave us a spin-off of the Saints Row world, where a terrorist organization called Legion is attempting to take over the world and the organization Mayhem is attempting to protect it.
What comes out of this superhero/GI Joe parody game is a great shooter that doesn’t quite reach to the levels that its predecessors were.
Players take control of the titular Agents of Mayhem, 12 of them to be precise, as they deal with threats around Seoul, South Korea from the vile Legion, who has been using Dark Matter to unleash their sinister plot around the globe. As the various agents, players will track down the high-ranking members of Legion and take them out.
While the story in Saints Row hasn’t always been amazing, there are memorable highlights or missions that stick in players minds. Sadly, Agents of Mayhem doesn’t have these and a large chunk become forgettable as you repeat tasks such as “destroy Legion Base” or “destroy Legion Hate Machine” over and over. There feels like a significant lack of over-the-top missions that the series is known for.
Another issues that I found with the game was its general tone, at times it felt like the game couldn’t decide if it was going for the raunchy factor that its predecessors had or play it safe with a series of tounge-and-cheek references to A Team and GI Joe, only with plenty of blood and swearing. Almost as if it the writers had a conflict of wanting the game to be its own thing or piggy back off of the original series.
Still, Agents of Mayhem does have one thing going for it, and that’s its fun characters. Each character in Agents of Mayhem is likeable, and their backstory missions gives players some one-on-one time exploring why they joined Mayhem and to get used to their unique weapon and powers. Of the 12 playable characters, you may even notice several returning faces including Oleg as Yeti (a Russian frost giant) and Pierce Washington as Kingpin, who united the various Saints Row gangs to form one giant gang and built a brand off of it.
Each character has their own distinct personality that really sells the characters, how they react and talk to each other is one of the better aspects in the game’s writing, which makes the Team-Up missions some of the best levels in the game despite its repeated design.
The game gives you controls of 3 agents at a time, allowing you to swap out at will, each agent has their own weapons that feel unique from each other along with a special power which usually amounts to a throwable weapon and a Mayhem attack which can wipe the screen. These abilities and weapons can be upgraded to have specific effects, these can range from buffs to specialized abilities. These upgrades are found in loot crates hidden around the city or by clearing missions.
While the gameplay is fine, the world isn’t. Seoul is no Steelport or Stillwater, and it lacks the creative mini-games, take-downs and general life that made the other two locals great. Don’t get me wrong, it is pretty with its sleek futuristic design, but it feels like after the 3rd mission I’ve seen the entire map, and the collectibles and side missions to capture bases and towers are just not interesting.
Agents of Mayhem isn’t bad, but it does miss the potential it had to really poke fun at the GI Joe/Superhero genre. With repetitive missions, level design and a lacking story, Agents of Mayhem just doesn’t bring the same craziness as the original.