Agents of Mayhem Review: One-dimensional and juvenile


Agents of Mayhem is Volition’s latest, a third-person, single-player shooter that’s been spun off from Saints Row and wants to channel the likes of Overwatch and Borderlands. It does not succeed.

Set in a futuristic (yet soulless) version of Seoul, Agents of Mayhem is an open-world title framed by a series of relatively linear missions. In most, you can select a team of three from your available agent pool – provided you’ve completed each agent’s introduction mission, that is – and set off to save the day. The titular Agents of Mayhem are varied, though that’s not to say they’re unique and fleshed out. Your initial team of three stars Hollywood, a vapid, Solider 76-like hero full of bravado… alongside some woman with SMGs and a big dude with a shotgun.

It’s here where Agents of Mayhem’s failings begin. I only remember Hollywood’s name because I initially found him to be funny; that lasted about five minutes before I found him a one-shot bore. It’s true that each hero has his or her own weapon, special and super (or Mayhem) ability, but they’re as barren and generic as Seoul itself, presenting nothing memorable in the slightest.

Though I know who Hollywood is – and who he’s meant to be modelled upon – I do not care about him in the slightest. On normal difficulty – though there are many higher settings above this – there isn’t any need to switch between your three rostered characters. You end up sitting with the one, and even then, you don’t really get any proper insight into him or her. Interactions between most of your characters and Persephone, the leader of Mayhem, don’t aid in exposition – half the time, conversations that are supposed so further this struggle to trigger. Most times, you’ll be driving along the empty streets of Seoul waiting a minute for each speaker to blurt out their response to the other. It’s very weird.

There are exceptions, of course – Rama is a bow-wielding scientist from Mumbai, serving Mayhem in an effort to save her people from a plague unleashed by the villainous Legion. Best yet, Agents is quite generous with the bow’s aim; you can fire an arrow three feet wide of the game’s generic foot soldiers and consistent land hits nonetheless. Daisy is a drunken roller derby queen armed with a fun mini-gun.

When Agents isn’t trying to copy Overwatch, it’s going for a Crackdown vibe… and nails it, though not in a good way. The barren open-world of Seoul, alongside archaic NPC AI, makes proceedings feel like a last-gen title. Combined with the repetition of most missions – go to a point, hack a thing, shoot at bad guys – there’s just not a lot to be excited for.

Agents will lose most with its humour, juvenile, distracting and frustrating. A very early mission manages to work the planet Uranus into the mix, burning through obvious jokes as if Donald Trump’s about to cause a nuclear war (too soon?). Those who appreciated the “humourous” bits of Saints Row IV – and I’m sure there are some of you out there – will enjoy what Agents has to offer, though this author thinks — no, hopes — that audience is few and far between.

The part that annoys me the most is that Legion’s baddies in Seoul are introduced as the Ministry of Pride, complete with Pride troopers ranging from Helltrooper to Captain. Given the state of the world today — and more specifically, the ridiculousness that Australia faces with a non-binding postal vote on same-sex marriage, the name is repugnant and unnecessary.

Questionable bits aside, Agents of Mayhem has competent shooting, crafting and levelling mechanics, so they can be enjoyed at the very least. Just like 2K‘s Battleborn, there are some things working for Agents of Mayhem… but that doesn’t mean you’re going to play it; nor should you.

5 out of 10

The good

  • Decent shooting, crafting and levelling mechanics.
  • A handful of decent characters like Rama and Daisy.

The bad

  • Looks and feels last-gen.
  • Atrocious humour.
  • One-dimensional, forgettable characters.

Agents of Mayhem was reviewed using a promotional code on PS4, as provided by the publisher. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.