Chaos Reigns: Agents of Mayhem Review

Posted in Kulturecade by - November 07, 2017
Chaos Reigns: Agents of Mayhem Review

Agents of Mayhem is basically Saints Row 5, no matter how much it tells you it’s not. You and your group of slightly sociopathic purple-clad agents will roam around an open-world sandbox, killing enemy patrols and taking back the city for fun and profit (and justice, I guess). While Agents of Mayhem does make some additions to the formula that keep it from feeling like a carbon copy of Volition’s previous efforts, it also loses some of the focus that made those previous games work as well as they did.

The story here is presented in the guise of an ongoing cartoon, and it has all the depth of one. As the titular agents of the G.I. Joe-esque organization M.A.Y.H.E.M., it’s up to you to defeat the evil forces of L.E.G.I.O.N., who want to destroy the world because that’s what every evil organization wants to do. The story keeps its tongue firmly in cheek throughout, and the animated cutscenes look so good that they could practically be their own Adult Swim show. That being said, the humor in the game is largely toothless. There are a few inspired send-ups of the G.I. Joe “Knowing is half the battle” segments, and there are a handful of genuinely funny one-liners, but an unfortunately large number of jokes fall flat, a problem that isn’t aided by dialogue that’s riddled with awkward pauses that give the impression that most conversations were stitched together from disparate lines.

The gameplay in Agents of Mayhem is mostly typical sandbox fare, but it’s augmented by the addition of elements pulled from the hero shooter subgenre. There’s a good amount of fun to be had in unlocking new agents and testing their varied abilities, and the characters on offer run the gamut from a bland but balanced guy with an assault rifle and a grenade launcher to a roller derby enthusiast who can lay waste to hordes of enemies with her massive minigun. The shooting in Agents of Mayhem is satisfying and oftentimes frenetic, if not especially challenging. The bland environments you’ll be doing all this shooting in fail to make an impression most of the time, however; the futuristic version of Seoul, South Korea can be beautiful, but it’s largely lifeless, and too many missions funnel you through the repetitive hallways of underground LEGION lairs.


All of this shooting nets resources with which you can upgrade your agents, gear, and home base. Doing anything rewards you with XP, which gives your agents health and attack boosts as they level up, as well as new skills to equip. Agents also earn upgrade points, which can be used to improve other skills, but these points function separately from the collectible shards in the environment which combine to give you upgrade cores to further specialize your agents with another, different set of skills. On top of all this, enemies and random loot chests will provide money and crafting parts, the former of which can be used to purchase yet another set of upgrades that apply to all agents while the latter can be used to craft several limited-use gadgets. There are other forms of currency to collect, including intel points that you’ll need to deploy inactive agents on missions in a world domination metagame, but you surely get the point by now. There is no reason for the upgrade system to be this convoluted, and managing the minutiae can turn Agents of Mayhem into a mess of menus from time to time.

Agents of Mayhem throws about a million ideas at the wall and sees what sticks. It’s got an open world sandbox filled with side activities, hero shooter elements in the core gameplay, a borderline-RPG level of character upgrades and customization, an emphasis on crafting, a map-conquering metagame, and much more. Not all of this works, with the game sometimes feeling like a lumbering Frankenstein’s monster, a patchwork of parts that couldn’t stand on their own so they’ve been sewn together. But when Agents of Mayhem ties these elements together with its stellar presentation, the full potential of the game shines through, resulting in a game that can be incredibly messy but also very, very fun. It’s such a shame that Agents of Mayhem has so much artificial bloat because, with a tighter focus, it could have been something special. As is, however, it’s a mildly fun affair with brief flashes of brilliance.

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