While technically not a part of the main Saints Row franchise, Agents of Mayhem shares quite a few themes and design choices, with more importantly the fleur-de-lis symbol iconic to the series once again taking the centre stage here as the logo to the superhero (Think S.H.I.E.L.D.) organisation, Mayhem. However, even then the game is strictly its own thing with an interesting premise even though it takes place in the same universe as Saints Row, and even Red Faction where cities like Stillwater are mentioned and Ultor Corporation are funding Mayhem with Persephone, first seen in Gat out of Hell as the organisation’s founder and head.

From the get go, the game was marketed as a playable Saturday morning cartoon with electric guitar laden themes accompanying the trailers and a huge emphasis on good guys vs bad guys. To a lot of extent the game has definitely portrayed that aspect well into a videogame, by not only giving you a myriad of characters with definable silhouettes and some really good and heroic main themes courtesy of Bloodborne composer Cris Velasco, but most importantly by ramming in animated intros and cutscenes for its characters that are well animated and drawn featuring very cartoon-cliché but well-suited back stories. The heroes are flamboyant and the bad guys are well… diabolically outrageous, much like what you would expect from something like the classic GI Joe or even Centurions.

Each character is different in terms of both abilities and personality. It never felt to me like they were just different skins with recycled abilities.

Regarding the playable characters in this game, what surprised me more was how each character is different in terms of both abilities and personality. It never felt to me like they were just different skins with recycled abilities. To their credit it was quite easy to fall into the recycled trap, but what made them all standout and feel different was the weapons and abilities they each used which fit their stereotypes and each had their own excellent and distinct voice overs. Sure some lines are all the same that the characters speak, but its only very briefly during some key campaign moments, otherwise everyone reacts to things and orders differently. On one end you will have the face of Mayhem, ex-Actor Hollywood being talkative with his can-do attitude, while Okami, an ex-Yakuza, is more subtle with his replies carefully choosing his words and just generally being more respectful. It’s this balance between them that prevent them from sounding all the same.

Another thing I appreciate about the characters is the balance between the character abilities, where not only do the special abilities that can be activated for devastating affect fit each agent, but depending on the speed or durability of a character will have different damage or effect outputs. Again, as a good example, Hollywood’s mayhem ability is loud and explosive making him to be an action hero in movies while Oni’s is more subtle that causes his enemies to run in fear. They all fit the character and since you can only have three agents at a time during gameplay to switch between, choosing them becomes a strategic task as well.

Daniel Dae Kim returns once again to lend his iconic voice to fan favourite Gat as well whose mannerisms in this game are based on Chow Yun Fat’s Tequila from Hard Boiled

The voice acting is also phenomenal in this game, as each cast fits the character well and plays to their accents and vocabulary strengths. Gideon Emery of the Teen Wolf and Halo Wars fame especially stands out as the kickass British Car A.I. reminiscent of K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider and Trevor Devall of Kid vs Kat, Guardians of the Galaxy animated and various animated DC films fame as Hollywood who steals the scene he is in with his egotistic remarks. Of course, Daniel Dae Kim returns once again to lend his iconic voice to fan favourite Gat as well whose mannerisms in this game are based on Chow Yun Fat’s Tequila from Hard Boiled, with even his mayhem ability featuring white doves most iconically used by the legendary Hong Kong director John Woo.

You begin the game with the Franchise force, the face of Mayhem that includes Hollywood, Hardtack and Fortune along the way unlocking more agents either through the main story missions or side activities that serve as insights into the backstories of the unlockable characters which you control solo through those missions. Each character has different skills that can be unlocked and upgraded with skill points the more you level them up. There is also a base for Mayhem where you can visit different departments to unlock and improve everything from abilities to equipment and vehicles.

Even despite having so much content and personality, the game unfortunately feels repetitive at times as you are basically doing variations of a few objectives

Even despite having so much content and personality, the game unfortunately feels repetitive at times as you are basically doing variations of a few objectives such as base infiltrating, which is like a dungeon mode that you shoot your way out of; delivering or destroying something with your AI enabled car; rescuing civilians, etc… Don’t get me wrong the game is really fun and has some responsive mechanics, but even they fall prey to a lacklustre mission structure. The only reason I managed to play through the final quarter was because of the characters who I wanted to level up or see more story of. Even though the open world of Seoul is itself unique and not seen before in games supporting a smart city outlook, it is filled with the same side missions that are recycled during the main missions, making them feel uneventful.

I also faced numerous bugs that at times blocked me from either completing my objective or even made my objectives disappear, prompting me to restart some missions several times making the bugs more than just a brief nuisance. Part of me feels that the game should have gone through a lot more testing as some bugs are just obvious and easily triggered.

I was however particularly happy that it was supported by Nvidia Ansel on PC, a powerful photo-mode that lets you take stunning photos

Another point regarding performance I would mention is that since I was reviewing this on the PC, the game performs shockingly, at times unable to maintain 60 fps even at 1080p on my 32gb ram and GTX980ti machine that runs games like The Witcher 3 flawlessly. The graphics are really good and the particle effects blew my mind at times, but even then it doesn’t justify the power it demands with better looking games using the same effects but better. For the more tech savvy of you, the game doesn’t scale well on the GPU and your CPU cores, wasting resources. If you have Hyper-Threading available I advise that you enable it for this particular title since it makes the game perform better. I was however particularly happy that it was supported by Nvidia Ansel on PC, a powerful photomode that lets you take stunning photos and render them with supersampling (enhancing resolution) or in 360 degrees to upload on facebook and the like.

The game is really fun, but has more quantity than quality that can make it tiring fast with a myriad of bugs that still need to be fixed. Not to mention PC gamers are well out of luck as it isn’t well optimised for it yet. Even when it is fixed I would still say it’s only good, not £43 worth of good as games like the recent Observer, Hellblade or Uncharted Lost Legacy are not only much cheaper but more focused and memorable. So I would definitely say wait for a sale and for the issues to be fixed. I would have loved to give it a higher score but not with these performance issues.



Author

Haris Iqbal
Haris Iqbal

I am a guy who loves anything with a powerful storyline, whether it be a game, book or movie, it doesn't matter. Just so long as it hooks me in and keeps my imagination captive till the last word/scene! Also, I am huge Silent Hill fan, so I love all things Silent Hill... and anything horror. Huge horror fanatic!