Review: Agents of Mayhem (PS4)
Publisher: Deep Silver
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Genre: Open-world, action
Twelve Agents. One Massive World. Zero Fucks.
When you open a press release announcing review copies with a quote like that, you’re guaranteed to get my attention. I was pleasantly surprised to check our editorial inbox to find an email with a big, bold tagline with profanity in it, because I curse like a sailor in the real world.
From the developers of the acclaimed Saints Row series comes Agents of Mayhem, a spin-off title with the same amount of purple, if not more, slapped all over its pretty face.
You play as twelve different members of the M.A.Y.H.E.M. organisation (Multinational Agency for Hunting Evil Masterminds), or an Agents of Mayhem if you will, which unlock as you progress through the various story-related missions. Tasked with stopping the evil bad guy organisation known as L.E.G.I.O.N. (Evil Gentlemen Intent on Obliterating Nations) and their mysterious leader, The Morningstar.
The game takes place in Seoul, South Korea, where you carry out objectives with the precision, diplomatic skill, and situational delicacy of something like that of Team America – you mean well, but you end up causing more mayhem (pun intended).
You start the game with a tutorial mission that showcases your initial three man squad: Fortune, Hollywood, and Hardtack (featured left to right). As you progress through the tutorial, you will swap between each of these characters to learn their different styles of gameplay.
Fortune is quick and nimble given her size, dealing moderate amounts of damage. She is also great with technology, so that comes in handy in a futuristic world. Hollywood is your stereotypical washed up, ex-action film star with an ego who runs it to most situations guns-blazing, and explosions everywhere. Then you’ve got Hardtack, who is slower to move with but can deal as much damage as he can take due to his big build.
Each character has their own special ability which builds up the more mayhem you cause through killing enemies, triggering explosive barrels etc.
For example, Fortune’s robotic sidekick will attack all enemies within a small radius to the beat of Brazilian bongo drums, while Hollywood will initiate a slow camera pan of him putting sunglasses on and explosions randomly occurring around him, like you’d expect from an action movie. I enjoyed Hardtack’s special ability the most. When you trigger it, he’ll comment with the biggest grin on his face saying “You want me to fuck your shit up, don’t you? Don’t you?” before converting his shotgun into a grenade launcher. Very satisfying.
In between missions you’ll return to your special base of operations called the ARK, which is cloaked above the city of Seoul. From the ARK, you’ll be able to customise your heroes, accept new missions, and play with your agent toys. It’s practically the main hub to take a break between missions
Another thing to do between missions is explore the huge open world area of Seoul. You’ll make your way around the city using a variety of futuristic cars that you can jack from innocent Korean citizens, but also make use of MAYHEM’s custom car collection. You’ll be able to summon a range of different vehicles from Mustangs to Pickup Trucks, each with a muscle grunt engine that sound amazing. You can barge your way through traffic at high speeds with the included boost engine, which at high velocity rips through civilian vehicles, often ending in explosions.
Driving around Seoul feels much like it does in the Saints Row games, which by that I mean clunky. In comparison to other open world driving games like Grand Theft Auto, Saints Row has always felt less refined and small gripe seems to have made its way into Agents of Mayhem. Whether or not this is by design, I’m unsure, but it’s just not as enjoyable as it could be.
Agents of Mayhem uses a strange mix of in-game scenes, pre-rendered cinematics, and animation to tell the story in between gameplay missions. Personally, I find that in-game scenes are the best way to tie gameplay sections together as it’s more immersive, so I was a bit thrown off by the mix between the three types. Admittedly, I did enjoy the anime-styled cutscenes as they were full of humour and fun moments.
Visually, the game is beautiful and it nails that cartoon aesthetic well. Its wacky and colourful palette really drives home the fictitious world that you’re playing in, although I reserve that there is an abundance of purple used, moreso than the Saints Row games, which can be a tad overpowering. There’s a nice a range of different shader effects, fantastic lighting, and the character design is spot on with their base appearances, but also the skins you can unlock later as well.
The game has some fantastic sound design to compliment its visual eye-candy. Each character has some fantastically recorded dialog that really enhances the fun and comical aspects of the game, which is possibly its biggest merit. In conjunction with some great dialog, comes with some really well recorded sound effects and a background music soundtrack that completes the package – especially when Hollywood does his action-hero ability. It’s epic.
Agents of Mayhem at its core is a lot of fun. It’s got your generic good versus bad plot and characters, with a lot of mature content in the mix. The gameplay is fun and challenging, without being overly complex in its mechanics and delivers high action chaotic moments that you can enjoy. If you’re looking for something different from other games in the mix and just want something fun, Agents of Mayhem has your back.