Played on PC:
- Asus z170M-Plus
- Scythe Mugen 4 Climate-control
- 32Gb Corsair Vengeance DDR4@2400
- Nvidia G-Force 1080 FE
A lot has been said about Agents of Mayhem, with little of that elevating the game above middling reviews written by indifferent reviewers looking for things in a game that weren't in that game from the very start. Made by Volition, Agents of Mayhem has pedigree for sure, yet not conforming to that pedigree seems to be it's downfall in the world of professional bumnuggetry. The game biggest criticism is that it isn't Saints Row 5 and Volition gets slapped for it just like Gearbox got slapped for Battleborn not being Borderlands enough.
Agents of Mayhem, AoM in short, is a semi-open world sand box mission-style shooter where the player goes around shooting stuff in a setting that's as cartoony as it is devoid of any pretense of it being something else. AoM's tone and gameplay is inoffensive and middle-of-the-road to a fault. By now, nobody should be taken aback by token lesbians, token latinas, token african-americans and token spoiled american girls. How else can you as a modern gamer be open minded and tell everybody that you don't care and that you're accepting of all? These stereotypes are a staple-requirement in games nowadays, as long as your production-lead isn't called Manvier Heir. It's all good.
The setting of AoM is therefore more interesting. The game is a nice throwback to the weirdly fun saturday-morning cartoons where the good guys never really destroy the bad guys and always come too late to take down the bad guys' kingpin for once and all time, but they all look good doing it. The good guys belong to a crime-fighting group called Mayhem (Which is an acronym for something contrived.) while the bad guys belong to a world-wide crimesyndicate called Legion (Which is an acronym for something contrived.). Mayhem is led by the sultry Persephone Brimstone, who defected from Legion and now tries to thwart her former employer with the backing of the Ultor Corp. She does so by hiring mercenaries she suffers more than that she puts faith in them. Fighting fire with fire takes a toll on Persephone for sure. Sadly enough, the charismatic and enigmatic Persephone Brimstone quickly relegates to being a background voice-over who snarks the mercs over social media. I wish more had been done with the character, like taking matters into her own hands and showing the mercs how it should be done at certain key-moments. AoM just calls for an extremely OP-character the player can have fun with for short bursts of time.
None of the above means that the mercs, called Agents, are weak or uninteresting. From the akimbo Fortune to the amazon Rama and everything in between, each one of the twelve Agents that player can ultimately select a team of three from have skills that speak to different players. There's strategy to team load-outs based on the mission attempted and there are story-reasons to attempting certain missions with a certain team-composition, even if that resulting team is relatively sub-optimal for the mission at hand. One can also mix and match Agents to hear them interacting during party-banter, which does give room for some LOL-moments. Mostly though, the party-banter is safe and inoffensive, totally inline with the entire demeanor of AoM. If you want to get cut on the game's edge, you'll be foiled by the expertly rounded edges of AoM.
Each Agent has their own back-story which the player will experience by playing through agent-specific missions. Some Agents are worth it, others fall flat and are only interesting for the many currencies their missions will yield. Hit or miss, thus.
Outside of the missions, the player can take his favorite team to the streets of Seoul and fight Legion ad-hoc. For me specifically this is where AoM shines. Once the player starts picking a fight with random Legion-soldiers, a doom-ticker appears, keeping track of Legion's Defcom. Once the doom-ticker reaches critical mass, a boss appears. Once that boss is defeated, the doom-ticker is reset and peace returns to the streets of Seoul. But before that happens, a lot of chaotic fighting, firing off special abillities and a lot of jumping around will have happened. The fights that happen organically in the streets of Seoul are by far the most intense fights I have had in AoM, to the point where I had to take a few moments after defeating a doom-ticker boss to catch my breath and to calm down! The best part of those organic fights is that the player doesn't know what kind of boss will show up and while every Agent can stand up to a boss, having a team that suddenly might be sub-optimal for the boss at hand will throw the player for a loop and change the flow of the battle from 'I got this' to 'OMG, I haven't got this at all!'.
AoM has crafting. At this point I take crafting as a fact of life, though if I were to rate using a five-star system I would dock AoM one star for having it on general principle. Crafting doesn't make a game better, it makes a game tedious, a chore. It all is compounded by the fact that AoM has a lot of currencies that need to be collected to even start crafting and that everything worth having needs to be crafted. It means that there are no meaningful mission-rewards other than tedious busywork in the future. 'Agent of Mayhem! You have saved the museum from the clutches of Legion! Have these resources!!' It's every bit as ridiculous as it sounds.
AoM generally performs well. Framerates are where they need to be, even when the screen is filled with explosions and a world of particle-effects. I have fallen through the world once and a few times the camera was really not helping me at all. However, none of that happened enough to be disappointed by the game overall.
In the end AoM is an entertaining game that manages to strike an inoffensive tone while making sure that all minorities and persuasions are represented. Gameplay is fun, fast and at times exhilarating and intense. There's some strategy to be found in matching mission-types with team-compositions, but it doesn't go much deeper than that. There's crafting that's unneeded but that can't be avoided. To AoM's credit, it never pretends to be more than it is; a comfortably fun time-waster.
I'm glad AoM exists as it is refreshing to play a game that's fun for the sake of being fun. By the time you put the game down for something new, it'll have paid for itself. If you're in the market for a game that you can pick up and have fun with from the word 'go', AoM might hit the spot for you.