Agents of Mayhem — Review
Agents of Mayhem goes all out as it fully commits to its cartoonish TV action roots, complete with catchy theme tunes and well-developed animated cut scenes. It’s not subtle in its love for the 90s and fans of that will find many welcome treats and nods to the past in this latest Volition title.
In Agents of Mayhem, the world has been taken over in a somewhat hostile way by the evil L.E.G.I.O.N. A multinational agency known as M.A.Y.H.E.M is formed, their sole purpose is to hunt these evil masterminds.
There’s a sense of refreshment to world conquest in Agents of Mayhem as for once the hub of technology lies in the East, not the West. Seoul in South Korea is the world’s technology centre and the game’s setting.
Seoul is represented in a colour and charming way and is nice to see something not set in the US or another Western city. It’s the crisp and clean metropolis of the future that our mind’s eye sees. The problem with the setting is that there is no substance to it. Despite how good it can look, it’s merely window dressing and often at times lifeless. NPCs here just seem to be there to colour in empty spaces and become debris whilst you’re fighting.
There are lots of little side quests besides the main campaign that players can do, but most of these almost feel pointless. You don’t get a sense of purpose with these missions besides stopping the occasional doomsday device laid down by the L.E.G.I.O.N.
The campaign can feel very monotonous at times and I found only a few of the cast of villains compelling. Most of them felt so underwhelming and their plots mainly involved beating wave after wave of henchmen only to be rewarded with an often-predictable boss fight, although these can be the most engaging fights you will have in the game.
Level design in Agents of Mayhem is interesting, but the problem is that it gets very old after a while. The campaign is around 25 hours long and what you will find throughout is a lot of these levels are copy and paste. That being said there are still lots of fun to be had whilst battling.
The gunplay is very satisfying and it takes the mundane out of largely fighting the same enemies. You’d think this could get old after battling the same group for hours and hours, but I didn’t find that.
Combat is fast and frantic at times, with the enemy displaying some good tactics to throw you off guard. Players take on L.E.G.I.O.N enemies in three person squads, but can only use one agent at a time. It’s a great arcade like run and gun and the agent-swapping mechanic included really helps by adding some diversity to your play style.
It took me around the 25-hour mark to unlock all agents in the game, and I think this helped in keeping the combat fresh. Not only do you have a lot of agents to unlock, but also there are plenty of skills, gear, and abilities to unlock, which can all be fully customised before you take your agents into battle. Content and progression are plentiful in Agents of Mayhem and it’s only a matter of time before you will start navigating towards your three favourite agents.
There’s great enjoyment in trying out all the individual agents on offer, figuring out how they all play and quickly assembling your best team to suit your playstyle. I went for Rama, Oni and Scheherazade as they suited me the most.
One of my favourite, if not the favourite part of this game was the special episodes in the game. These are separate inclusions from the main storyline that explores each individual agent and their backstory. They give insight into the characters and show how the overall story relates to them.
These special missions help to flesh out characters and I actually really like the host of agents on offer. You get a glimpse into their personal life like hearing about a character’s crush and seeing certain relationships unfold. These levels are slightly typical in that your aim is to shoot the bad guys in the underground lair, but I enjoyed them nonetheless.
Humour is a large part of Volition games, but in Agents of Mayhem, I felt they fell short of their usual standard. Gags are often poor at times and can be slightly cringy due to overusing stereotyping. They certainly pay homage to 90s action and they love a good trope. This is largely down to some poor writing at times, which coincides with the overall story being one that is lacking in depth.
Dialogue is a particular let down in Agents of Mayhem and sometimes feels like it was aimed at getting laughs from a pre teen. Plenty of F-Bombs and other swear words and present throughout. This isn’t something I have a problem with, but couple it into cheesy one-liners and you soon become tired.
Agents of Mayhem is by no means a bad game, but it’s just not a great game. There are some good uses of the weapons and gadgets that are on offer, citing some excellent creativity in that part, but ultimately this game is let down by some rather fundamental points.
The repetitive level design and same feeling combat can get very boring very quickly and with the decent length of its campaign, it will. At first, this all feels great and leaves you wanting more. Shotguns feel powerful and firing an arrow looks great, but it just doesn’t take long for this initial excitement to fade and repetition to become the main theme.
Despite that, the game is still fun and it’s one that is still worth playing. The problem with Agents of Mayhem is that it just hasn’t reached the potential we were all hoping for. It’s disappointing in that regard, but with its fast paced action combat, it’s still a fun time.