If you’re anything like me and you’re immature enough to appreciate a plethora of random filthy jokes, you’re probably familiar with the Saints Row series. Growing from little more than a GTA rip off, the team over at Volition and Deep Silver managed to make something truly unique and truly special. If ever you’re looking for mindless, weird, hilarious violence, this is the franchise you turn to! Having played the ever loving crap out of Saints Row 3 and 4, you can imagine I was excited to see the franchises first spin-off, Agents of Mayhem.
If you’re not familiar with the franchise, here’s what’s happened so far. Our protagonist became the emperor of the galaxy. No, I’m not kidding. This is the level we’re on here! Of course, then they were captured by the devil, had to be rescued by the infamous Johnny Gat and the universe had to be rewritten. That’s where Agents of Mayhem begins. It’s a completely retconned universe. In this reality, the Agents of Mayhem are a World Police type organisation entrusted with the task of defeating the evil Legion. Of course, that’s not to say they don’t deal their fair share of carnage doing so.
Within the game, you play as a squad of 3 characters which can be changed out on a whim. it’s a nice little mechanic. You’re able to customise your team to suit your playstyle or handle a specific enemy. If you’re low health during a fight, simply switch out for someone else and let the others heal while you keep shooting. Of course, there are canonical squads for you to choose from, but you aren’t confined to those.
So far, I’ve been trying out a little of everyone. From what I can tell the canon squads are well-balanced. Each squad has someone to deal with shields and armor and fire from different ranges. You’re welcome to mix and match but if I can give you one piece of advice, it’s to make sure your squad ticks all the boxes. You don’t want to be out on a mission and find out you can’t deal damage to armoured enemies.
When it comes to the firefights, strap yourself in. Mostly it’s hopping and dashing around the battle field murdering as many enemies as possible. However, the addition of special abilities and Mayhem abilities is a first for the franchise. I really like the idea of each character having a unique ultimate ability to let loose. Some are better than others but overall they’re really fun and really give you a sense of that character. For example, let’s take Hollywood. As an action star turned Agent of Mayhem, his special ability makes him less susceptible to damage, gives him unlimited ammo and causes explosions to spontaneously appear. It’s such a cheesy action movie sequence every time you use it and it just fits Hollywood so well.
Which brings me to one of the biggest draws of Agents of Mayhem: the characters. You can see how diverse this cast is just from looking at the trailers. We have people from different countries, different backgrounds all with one thing in common: a desire to kick LEGION ass! There are lots of little pieces of dialogue to make you love these guys. They all have pretty distinct personalities and I really love the little intro cartoons. Honestly, the characters are one of the most appealing parts of Agents of Mayhem.
Which is why it’s so disappointing that the missions they’re used for are pretty dull by comparison. One of the main reasons Saints Row has always worked for me is that it’s not afraid to go completely batshit insane. Even when you’re doing the little sidequests, there’s something there to keep things interesting. Whether it’s listening to the announcers in Professor Genki or trying to drive a car whilst being attacked by a tiger, there is something to keep you hooked. Sadly, that just seems to be missing from Agents of Mayhem.
It has its moments but for the most part, you’ll find yourself doing the same few things over and over. You either run a car off the road, beat up some LEGION troops, or infiltrate a base. It happens over and over and over! Now, Saints Row wasn’t exempt from that kind of repetition. There were a couple of sidequests where you felt it was more of the same. But that wasn’t nearly as obvious and frequent as in Agents of Mayhem. Plus in Saints Row you had the take over mechanic where parts of the city would come under your control through sidequests, a mechanic that’s sadly missing in AoM.
There are a couple of quests in AoM that stand out as being exciting or different. In particular, Daisy’s sidequest where you try to retrace her steps from a wild night before stands out as interesting and memorable. It uses more or less the same mechanics but gives them to you in a fresh way. A lot of the others just don’t have that appeal. They’re very forgettable as “Go to this place, kill LEGION.”
One of the best parts of the Saints Row franchise is usually the music. Now, I actually had a little bit of a hiccup on this one. On the build I played I wasn’t able to control the radio in any of the cars. As such, I got glimpses of the soundtrack. Enough to know there’s a fair amount of dubstep and even a little K-pop to fit the Seoul setting. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out Deep Silver uploaded a remix of the theme song for each squad onto Sound Cloud. So hurrah, the badass music is still around!
In conclusion, while I had a bit of fun playing Agents of Mayhem, I can’t really recommend it. When I think of this franchise, I think of pure insane fun. I think of the chariot mission in Saints Row 3. I think of running through a city wielding nothing more than a giant floppy dildo bat! Agents of Mayhem comes close to that but doesn’t quite hit the mark. It seems very tame by comparison to other games in the series. It seems almost logical! To me, logic just doesn’t have a place in this series. I mean for gods sakes, the game before this was about fighting the Devil to save the Emperor of Space! I realise that’s a high bar to live up to, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to be lazy.
You could easily make a case that 80% of this game contains the same mechanic over and over and without the comedic insanity behind it, it just doesn’t hold up. The writers in this game needed to look at what they already had, a diverse cast of over the top, oddball characters, and push that even further. Because without that you essentially just have a bunch of copy pasted busy missions.
I really hate to slam the game, because genuinely it is fun as a pickup and play mindless explosions hour. But I can’t say it’s going to the top of my wishlist any time soon. If you’d like to play it yourself, Agents of Mayhem is available now on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. Let me know what you guys think, I would genuinely love to hear your opinions on this one. You can let us know in the comments below or via our Facebook page.