Agents of Mayhem – Official Review

Those peacekeepers could use your help, agent!

Agents of Mayhem is a third person shooter with RPG elements developed by Volition and published by Deep Silver. Volition’s last full release, Saints Row IV was released by Deep Silver after THQ, the original publisher was unable to stay in business. This final game (plus the Gat Out of Hell standalone expansion) left the series with little room to move on. So, this game serves as a spinoff to the Saints Row series by taking all of its gameplay and adding some interesting new tweaks. It’s a single-player-only experience, yet you play as a squad of 3 and just swap in and out of all 3 characters. Does it work?
{Reviewed on Xbox One]

GRAPHICS: 1/2

It feels like Volition is always just a little bit behind everyone else in the area of graphics. Adding a slight amount of cel-shaded flair and some decent visual FX, it’s their best looking game to date. But unfortunately, ‘their best’ is a game that looks like a launch title in the graphics department. Or, at the very least, it’s a former last gen game that was hastily ported to next gen for Xbox One and PS4. The design of Seoul, the city the game takes place in, looks quite nice artistically. Aesthetic highrises, building zones, factories, and a shipyard, they made them all look decent. But, in terms of technical prowess, it’s just not up to part with the more modern games it’s lining up against. There’s also a fair bit of asset reuse going on here. Because of that, you see the same signs and buildings multiple times if they aren’t part of the set-piece structures. There will be more about this later on in the review.

STORY: 1/2

The plot of Agents of Mayhem was so banal, it was entirely forgettable. The titular agents of M.A.Y.H.E.M. are put up against the nefarious L.E.G.I.O.N. in order to stop them from creating a super weapon. If this sounds like a Saturday morning cartoon, that’s because it’s framed as one. Tons of 2D animated cutscenes play before and after missions. This game manages to mimic that look, albeit way more raunchier and full of F-bombs. But, like I said, the story is forgettable. What is memorable is the array of colorful characters that interact with each other. Every single mission and major side-mission is loaded to the brim with radio chatter, often engaging as much as 5 or more people in the group gabbing it up while you’re fighting. The case contains 12 agents, 5 major NPCs in your home base, and 5+ enemy characters and they all do their fair share of talking. This is multiplied if you play the game with your favorite squad loadout. You definitely won’t like all 12 agents but you’ll find the ones whose humor aligns with yours the most. Bonus points do have to be given. The enemy NPCs have a metric ton of lines that are specific to whichever agent you’re currently playing as (“It’s Hollywood, get him!” or “Oh sh*t, it’s Braddock!” etc). One more thing that bothers me more though, is that they decided to make Saints Row mainstay Johnny Gat into a pre-order only DLC from Gamestop. I am dumbfounded as to why they decided to do this, so I chose not to pre-order and pick up the game elsewhere.

AUDIO: 0/2

Complete disaster. The audio is littered with multiple small glitches like sounds being interrupted, missing sound effects, and lines getting occasionally cut off. There were also numerous times where leaving the game running and coming back later mutes the entire game, forcing you to restart it. Games running in the background are a staple of all the new consoles, so it’s a pain in the ass when your enjoyment is interrupted because you have to restart the game. The voice acting was mediocre for the most part. Nobody really stood out, but nothing was terrible. The music though? Boring. The cars didn’t even have radio stations either, music just clicks on any time you enter a vehicle. I said in our video that the music sounded like generic “royalty free” music you can purchase at a lower cost than licensed music. Given Volition’s usually propensity for absolutely nailing scenes with well-times songs, it’s just depressing that they couldn’t be bothered to come up with something more interesting.

GAMEPLAY: 1/2

The gameplay in AoM is hectic, as you jump around attacking various enemies in either wide open spaces or closed in dungeon-type areas. It’s sort of an overhaul from Saints Row IV but optimized to suit a squad-based combat system. Some team members are better at taking down certain enemy types than others. It’s pretty easy to make a well balanced teams since they all have handy little logos indicating what their specialty is. Some break through armor, some break shields, other can hack, others do more damage against leaders. This new depth actually made the game exciting to try out different characters while playing the missions. However, all of the gameplay is completely marred by bugs. I’ve gotten stuck in scenery, textures not loading, my car getting trapped, and an enemy boss accidentally teleporting outside the map, forcing me to start the whole bass battle over again. It’s stuff like this and the aforementioned audio bugs that really bring this game down. Even worse is the mission design. Every other story mission or major side mission has you perform a menial task followed by assaulting one of Legion’s underground lairs. Except it’s the same lair. EVERY. TIME. The game tries to make up for this by having you travel to different sections of the lair per mission but its done so frequently that it doesn’t help it at all. One more thing: another detriment to the game was the lack of a minimap, making the buggy GPS system and driving confusing on many occasions.

FUN: 2/2

So, here’s the rub. Despite all of AoM’s problems with glitches and bugs, the game is an absolute blast to play once things get going. Though I’m not a fan of the recent uprising of every game turning into a sandbox game, I can’t say it doesn’t give you plenty of things to do. This is also helped by making the map not really that big. In a market full of games that are continually trying to outdo each other by size, this game had the guts to say NO. This game takes place in one city, not of the missions or activities is all that far away, and the activities are free form so you have that old-school freedom to do whenever you want. The best way to play this game is in short bursts. Playing the game for review forces me to tire of the repetition but if you use it as a time killing game and decide to go around, shooting some stuff up, and causing general MAYHEM, you’ll be in for a good time.

Bugs, glitches, and lackluster soundtrack really hampered the overall quality of the experience of this game. It could have been better had it not been for seemingly lazy mission design. Doing the same thing over and over again can be annoying but not in short bursts. A wild idea arose while writing this review. I think this game should be on the Nintendo Switch. This game looks like it could run on it, and this game would be great to have as a portable title. So if you really like your sandbox games, you could do worse. But for a full price release? Forget it, wait for a sale.

SCORE: 5/10




About Kurt "Chet" Christel

Kurt Christel AKA chet:( is the EDITOR-IN-CHIEF at Hard Mode Gamers. He is a jackass of all trades and master of some. He likes being both a hipster and an anti-hipster simultaneously. He's also a rampant soft drink enthusiast. Favorite games are currently ones that simply don't feature sandboxes.