Developed by Volition, Agents of Mayhem is a new addition to the Saints Row universe, and easily one of the most anticipated games at E3 this year. After the initial trailer dropped for the game in early June, not much was known about it aside from its cast and possibly the plot. E3 is the perfect place to fill everyone in on any details that weren’t initially released, and publisher Deep Silver did just that.
Agents of Mayhem takes place in Seoul, South Korea. The villainous organization L.E.G.I.O.N led by a crazy person by the name of Dr. Babylon is hatching an evil scheme that will give them almost unlimited power. That’s where Persephone Brimstone comes in. She’s tasked by M.A.Y.H.E.M with putting together a team of antiheroes to stop them. They’re described as antiheroes, anyway, but I don’t think they did anything aside from heroic. You can’t steal cars or anything that goes against the grain in that sense. I’d call them something closer to mercenaries, but even that’s kind of negative compared to what I played. There were four to choose from in this demo. They included Fortune, a quirky dual wielding pistol woman; Rama, a straight-faced long-range archer; Hollywood, an obnoxious Johnny Cage-type midrange SMG specialist; and Hardtack, a close-range shot gunner. Each have their own unique specials and four things to upgrade based on their respective personalities.
That seems to be the driving force behind everything in this game. Volition really wants a game filled to the brim with character, and they do that here, but it’s not necessarily a good thing. For starters, every character I played as (with one exception) was kind of annoying. They were all loud caricatures with one-note personalities. Cartoons and comics heavily inspire the game, which explains this to an extent, but I wish there was a little more depth and nuance. I know a lot of people will fall in love with the cast, but I just had a hard time believing I would care about any of them for an entire game.
In terms of actual gameplay, I had flashbacks of the 2007 classic Crackdown, but with some refinements. Players are given a completely open world to play around in with a third person perspective. It’s an over-the-top third person shooter with RPG elements. A dodge mechanic has been implemented so players can roll out of the way of bullets and explosions. It was highly recommended I take advantage of that system, and I think that’s because there was no way to take cover. That’s a small nitpicky thing, but it was one that bothered me my entire playthrough. I also never got a real sense of exploration from the game. There was no way to climb walls or steal cars, leaving me to just run and gun. Maybe it’s because it reminded me of Crackdown so much that it bothered me, but the game itself offers something different instead of retreading that same ground. Besides, this is an open world, and since Seoul is huge, I have no doubt there will be a lot to do. Still, it was definitely fun to just turn my brain off and mow down robots.
Agents of Mayhem will no doubt be a success when it finally launches, but I question if it has enough to stay fresh for its duration. Despite taking place in the same universe as Saints Row, it doesn’t share the same humour, or imagination. Still, I acknowledge that many will love the game for the reasons I’m hesitant about it. If anything, it will be a fun little detour for Volition, and a little experimentation is never a bad thing.