Considering there are so many big-budget sandbox titles out there, it takes a lot for one to stand out. Is Agents of Mayhem's large cast of characters appealing enough to make it worthwhile? Board the Ark and let's find out.
Volition's Agents of Mayhem may be a spin-off of Saints Row but it's an entirely different experience. You play as a variety of Agents from an organisation known as Mayhem who are on a mission to put an end to the evil plans of a coalition of evildoers named Legion. It's a simple premise for a story but where it shines brightest is in its cast of characters. As you progress, you'll gain access to 12 Agents who each have their own motives for joining Mayhem. You'll encounter a Japanese hitman, an Indian archer, a cheesy Canadian actor, and even a few familiar faces from the Saints Row series. Each character has their own basic weapon and set of abilities along with plenty of personality so choosing your favourite plus two to tag along (who you can switch to on the fly) is quite an enjoyable undertaking. This is such a refreshing change to the average open world game because most of them force you to just play as one character throughout.
One of Agents of Mayhem's best qualities is that it has a lot of attitude in its storytelling and character dialogue. Although the characters often swear, I never found it to be excessive like in most other similar games and actually thought that it enhanced the humorous lines as opposed to being crass. Although I can see some gamers either thinking this aspect is offensive or that it doesn't go too far, I think that it's at just the right level to make an entertaining adult-oriented narrative that doesn't take itself seriously and is full of laughs.
Agents of Mayhem's gameplay mostly involves what you'd expect from a sandbox game as you explore a futuristic version of Seoul. You run around, shoot weapons, perform abilities, and can triple-jump which allows you to reach rooftops and faraway platforms with ease. Tapping a few other buttons lets you summon your trusty vehicle, perform a melee attack, sprint, scan your surroundings, and reload. Overall, the controls are very intuitive and easy to master which is great because you can focus on causing chaos in the city without having to remember how to perform certain actions. Oh, and the driving controls are spot-on, too.
The missions within Seoul involve everything from infiltrating hidden underground bases to delivering vehicles and taking out enemy installations to racing through checkpoints. It's a decent variety of content that'll keep you busy for hours although most of the missions primarily involve two gameplay modes: combat and driving. That being said, I never got bored and these missions rarely felt repetitive because there's a lot of stuff to see and do in the city. Simply wandering around and discovering chests and other collectibles while taking out the odd horde of enemy patrols is so much fun that I sometimes forgot to activate the next story mission.
Speaking of missions, the waypoints in Agents of Mayhem can sometimes be quite unclear. For example, having a waypoint on a roof then trying your darnedest to climb the building only to realise that there's an elevator at the bottom is undeniably frustrating. Why couldn't the waypoint be to the elevator? It can be rather unintuitive and cause much needless aggravation.
Agents of Mayhem also has some glitches in its current state although not so many that I'd consider it a glitchy game. However, having the screen completely freeze after all of your agents perished and being unable to access any menus thus forcing you to quit out of the game is pretty bad. That being said, this severe glitch only occurred once throughout my time playing.
Finally, it's difficult to understand just when your progress is saved. Once, I quit during a mission after accomplishing some of its goals. I clearly saw "Saving..." on the screen so figured I could turn it off and continue later. Upon booting it up again, I had to start the mission all over from the beginning. Keep in mind, some of these missions have many layers and can possibly take over an hour to complete so the fact that you can't have confidence in whenever your progress saved is a significant issue.
Agents of Mayhem may not be the best open world action game but it is full of awesome gameplay, satisfying exploration, and diverse characters that help keep the experience fresh. In the end, Volition tried something new and it definitely paid off.
- + Awesome action-packed gameplay with a large and diverse cast of characters
- + Solid humour without being too crass
- + Open world is great fun to explore
- - Waypoints can be frustrating to work out
- - Currently a significant amount of glitches
- - It's difficult to know exactly when your progress was last saved