Reviewed on: Xbox One
“Saturday morning cartoons of your youth” is the kind of thing that has become Facebook lore – I’m looking at you, “Only 70’s/80’s/90’s kids will get this!” types – but like all click-bait hanging around on our social media, it taps into something powerfully nostalgic.
Agents of Mayhem does this for me too. As the latest game from Volition and Deep Silver, who produced the Saint’s Row series of games amongst others, they looked at this one and decided to go all in on the entertainment factor. This is not a game that you should play if you’re looking for a serious / semi-serious open world sandbox to have an adventure in.
The basic gist of the game is that you’re part of a team of special agents from a clandestine organisation known as M.A.Y.H.E.M, or the Multinational Agency Hunting Evil Masterminds – hence the title, and you’ve got the task of taking on the collective baddies of L.E.G.I.O.N – The League of Evil Gentlemen Intent on Obliterating Nations. Someone really wanted those acronyms, eh?
All of this takes place in a near-future Seoul in South Korea, but again, like so many parts of this game, a generous dose of creative liberty has been taken in realising the sandbox that this game unfolds in. You won’t find yourself pausing to take in the sights on a regular basis, but there are moments when you’ll find yourself stood at the top of a skyscraper and you’re caught by surprise at the vista and surprising beauty of the scenery. Unfortunately, this can at times be undone by some significant pop-in on the visuals, which was particularly noticeable when moving through the city at speed or coming down from great heights.
Gameplay wise, you’ll not find anything particularly revolutionary here, but it’s nicely envisioned by the team at Volition. You run a team of 3 agents in the world at any one time, starting with the initial combo of Fortune, Hardtack, and Hollywood. Their names speak a little bit about their origins, all of which are excessive and fantastical, but they’re all delivered firmly tongue-in-cheek. In fact, everything about this game is delivered firmly tongue-in-cheek, but in a way that I found myself more often laughing along with than groaning about them, and I was quite impressed at the sheer amount of Uranus jokes that they were able to cram into one section of the game. However, I digress. Gameplay is solid, but the screen is quite busy when you’re playing it – enemies are easily identifiable thanks to their garish villain hench-person outfits, but once the explosions kick off it can get a bit challenging to keep track of what’s going on and I noticed a definite drop in the frame rates on more than one occasion. In fact, I felt that on the whole, the framerate of the game on the XB1 was a little bit choppy for my liking.
In terms of activities for the game, there’s heaps to do. Each agent to be added to your roster needs to be unlocked individually through a story-driven quest, which serves as both a primer for that character and an introduction to their unique abilities. My favourites are Daisy, the minigun wielding roller-derby powerhouse, and cigar-chomping 80’s sci-fi homage ex-marine Braddock. A real strength of this game is that unlocking the new characters introduces new ways to progress in the game, and so you’ll be able to find 3 that match your playstyle once you’re settled into this game. Once you’ve got that sorted, you’ve got a ton of content and unlocks to chase down outside of the main story, all of which is delivered in that early-90’s action cartoon style.
I have a soft spot for the guys n’ gals over at Volition. They have produced some really interesting and fun games for quite some time now. They’ve had it a bit hit n’ miss with their publishers over the years, but Deep Silver seem to be doing right by them and they’ve been able to focus on doing what they do best. Which, as it turns out, is to make entertaining action games which are unashamedly excessive. Sometimes that excess is detrimental to the experience, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is still a highly entertaining game.
It gets a solid 7.6 from me.