Agents of Mayhem isn’t perfect. But I’m going to call it a masterpiece of fun. Simply put, it’s been a good year or two since any game has given me this much to smile about. The last time I remember grinning ear to ear while playing through a single player adventure, I was Talion hacking through Uruks. Volition’s latest open world epic has its share of bugs and foibles, but by and large what we’re witnessing here is the creation of a new IP that I pray will be mercilessly used in future games and DLC. I love Agents of Mayhem. Despite any frustrations with bugs and controls, it just works and makes me smile. This is our Agents of Mayhem review.
THE GOOD STUFF
People often knocked the Saints Row games for its character feeling too floaty, or not having any weight. In Agents of Mayhem, that’s completely side-stepped. In AoM, you play as a cast of 12 (+Johnny Gat from SR) heroes, swapping between three of them at any given time. Each one has their own movement, weapons, skills, and perks. Each one also feels unique, from the basic soldier Hollywood (also funny as hell), to the heavy shotgunner Haystack. Daisy rolls around on rollerskates while carrying a chaingun, while Braddock wields a Bowie knife and a semi-auto rifle. They walk different, run different, and jump different, but they’re all great fun to play with. You can customize them pretty well too, as they level up and gain more skills and gadgets to use.
Movement feels particularly good. For longer stretches, you’ll call down or commandeer a car, but just running, triple-jumping, and wall-climbing or air dashing feels really good. Jetting around the near-future Seoul, South Korea was joyous. This is a fact that Volition knows, and thusly created a bunch of side activities around movement. Car driving feels pretty good too, though some of the common open world cars are just lemons. Thankfully you can always call down a ride from the Ark (MAYHEM’s HQ). And yes, you can customize and earn more cars from the Ark too.
Combat is gloriously well-done. I’ve taken to a core team of Braddock, Rama, and Hollywood – a heavy, an assault, and a bow and arrow sniper. Each of them has a fantastic MAYHEM ultimate ability which can flat out destroy bosses in seconds. As you level each one up, they get even more potent. Dark matter shards are scattered across the game map, collect enough and you earn a shard that can really alter the power level of a character. You’ll also unlock and craft different consumable weapons, which aside from helping, are just plain fun. There’s nothing like sending a mini nuke into a crowd of LEGION baddies, let me tell you.
There’s also a metric ton of content here, and the world doesn’t feel like one big “go here, collect this, complete map” fetch quest as many open world games feel. There are over 50 main missions in the game, and tons of side missions that unlock and add back story to the cast of characters. Some are delivered with serious tones, like Rama’s tale of a plague-ravaged Dubai, and some are just flatout hilarious while detailing US military soldiers gone bad (Braddock’s story). The added bonus of pre-ordering and getting Johnny Gat is just that, a bonus for Saint’s Row fans. It’s nice to have him, but the cast of AoM is solid enough to stand on its own.
THE MEH STUFF
Seoul isn’t a bad city to put a big game in. The problem is, Agents of Mayhem’s Seoul is just a load of neon lights and bustling streets. The game characters have loads of character, but the world itself doesn’t have much. Some set pieces really stand out, and I’m mainly talking about the big main missions and the LEGION bases. But the rest of the in between could just be “Generic Game City #4” and no one would notice. If there is DLC and/or sequels, I’d love to see Volition stretch their legs and wings and take us into a less urban district – something with more biomes and geological diversity.
Driving, as I stated is pretty “OK”. I won’t go further than that because it feels as though it was simply included to check off part of a list of what the game needed to have to ship. It’s not bad, it’s just forgettable. A means to an end. Controls are an issue on the gamepads, as it felt a bit too loose and I found myself spinning around like a cracked out rodent at times. Mouse and Keyboard, oddly, felt far more natural and steady. The camera can still get lost, and I wish I could adjust the FOV and the zoom a bit to suit my liking.
Agents of Mayhem is fairly polished and definitely filled with content, but during my review on PC, I ran into a few pretty hefty bugs. Namely, on one early main story mission, the entire map wouldn’t load where it was supposed to, leaving a hole in the world that you could do nothing but fall through endlessly until you died. A simple re-install of the game fixed it, but definitely, beware of bugs like this. As a general note, framerates at 4K resolutions are spotty too, even with a Titan X (Maxwell) 16GB of DDR3, and an Intel i7-4790K. The day before launch, Nvidia released the new drivers for Agents of Mayhem, so your mileage may vary. I will say that using Ansel which came with the new drivers, will make Agents of Mayhems, well mayhem look absolutely stunning.
THE FINAL RUNDOWN
Agents of Mayhem began as one of my most wanted games of 2017. As we near the fall and winter months, there’s a lot of stiff competition coming up against Volition’s new open world opus. Frankly, I hope it gets all the attention it deserves. A diverse, strongly progressively aligned cast and storyline are exactly what the world needs right now. The Legion are bad guys, plain and simple. No gray areas. Mayhem, are the good guys. Sometimes this can be at odds with the fact that you can freely and openly shoot at the public, but it’s a side effect of the open world action game I’m willing to overlook for the sake of MAYHEM GOOD. LEGION BAD.
Agents of Mayhem proudly barrels out into the world as a robust and absolutely fun single player experience. If you want an escape from the grimdark settings of most modern games, but still want to make things go boom, you should stop reading and pick it up now. Above all else, Agents of Mayhem is a master class in fun.
Note: Our PC copy was provided by Deep Silver’s PR firm.