Agents of Mayhem is a third-person open-world action game available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Volition has a big reputation in making great games from their fresh concepts that flourish into highly regarded long-standing franchises as they have developed multiple games in the FreeSpace, Summoner, Red Faction and Saints Row franchises since 1998 and even as far back as 1996 with Volition’s predecessor Parallax Software who created the Descent series. Can Agents of Mayhem achieve the same quality as Volition’s opening games in their previous franchises?
The story takes place after the ending of Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell; revolving around villain Doctor Babylon plotting an evil plan to destroy the planet through the use of dark matter with help of his army known as Legion; therefore a group of mercenaries known as the Agents of Mayhem are called upon to not only save the day, but the very future of mankind’s existence and Earth itself with their battle starting out in Seoul, South Korea.
Primary missions progresses the story along in your fight to stop the evil Doctor Babylon, while secondary missions are categorised as agent operations that are related to specific agents and actually unlocks a number of further agents to recruit into your squad, alongside contracts that are acquired through investigating locations in addition to attempting to find warp points during free roaming.
ARK is essentially a home for all agents who have completed their mission and are awaiting their next mission. Agents can visit the armoury to improve their weaponry and abilities by customising each of your agents’ unique loadouts including a variety of gadgets, upgrades, core upgrades, legion tech and even being able to view agent abilities. Hollywood’s gadgets include the attention seeker which fires an explosive grenade to inflict a high amount of damage to enemies, while run-and-gun stock results in gaining haste after firing for at least two seconds and last ditch launcher which reduces the cool down on his special ability in the scenario that his shields drop to 50% or lower. Meanwhile, Hardtack’s gadgets include a teleharpoon which can be thrown at enemies to stun them and teleport them within reach of his primary weapon and bloodlust mod allows a 15% faster cool down with every weapon kill during a special ability. Fortune’s gadgets include cannonball were she taps her guns together to inflict a giant energy ball that damages enemies within a large radius with stunned enemies taking more damage, while captain’s orders sees killing enemies prompt Glory to produce stun blasts 20% more frequently and cavalier boots which result in enemies being slowed down and vulnerable when attempting to reposition their sights when dashing near enemies.
Upgrades can be re-assigned at any moment of convenience for those upgrade points to be redistributed accordingly which is quite handy given that there are 10 upgrades per upgrade category. Hollywood’s upgrades include increasing the magazine size of his weapon, longer duration of mayhem ability, improving the special ability refresh and a bonus mayhem percentage for your squad. Hardtack’s upgrades include health regeneration, more health gained from health pickups, a faster reload speed and bonus melee damage resistance for your squad. Fortune’s upgrades include a faster overheat recovery, a faster special ability refresh, an increased shield reboot and a bonus cash reward for your squad. Upgrade cores permanently improve an agent with Hollywood’s core upgrades including a critical hit damage bonus for shooting from the hip, dashing leaves behind a timer grenade and unlimited ammo, faster rate of fire and more explosions albeit for the duration of the mayhem ability. Hardtack’s core upgrades include inflicting greater damage to Legion Commanders, gaining fortify when dashing and deploying mines during his mayhem ability. Fortune’s core upgrades include Glory stunning targets more often during combat, Glory has a 50% probability of simultaneously stunning 3 enemies instead of a single enemy with each attack and weapons are overcharged for the duration of her mayhem ability.
Legion technology can be reverse engineered from enemy forces to be utilised at the advantage of the agents by utilising the talents of Gremlin in the R&D lab, although you will have to search inside Legion’s lairs to find schematics and appropriate crafting materials to create powerful modifications for gadgets; however you must have already attained level 9 before Legion technology becomes available, while Gremlin can also build Gremlin technology from materials gathered during missions.
Agents can earn XP by completing primary missions and side missions to level up which is important as it gradually makes your agents more capable such as Hollywood unlocking the Skinpiercer specialisation ability which deals bonus damage to armour and pierces targets protected by hard armour upon reaching level 10.
Character design is quite varied as there are initially three agents that you can switch between at any moment including Hollywood, Hardtack and Fortune, although players will progressively unlock a further 9 playable characters. Every agent has their own unique qualities including range, damage and durability, alongside a variety of unlockable skins to transform the look of each character within your squad. Agents have differing methods of aerial traversal such as air dashing in order to easily manoeuvre between gaps or wall climbing to scale tall buildings. Agents can call upon a futuristic car equipped with vehicle A.I. to arrive and pick up your character from any street, while there are also compact cars and lorries that can be entered and driven at any moment of preference.
Enemy design is quite varied as there are a variety of mobile ground troops with differing attacks, while Golums are made of rocks and have substantially more attack power and far more health than ground troops, alongside Doctor Babylon who looks akin to an evil villain from an anime cartoon and much more besides.
Environment design is as impressive as the Saints Row series as the action is set within an open-world near future Seoul which mirrors its real-life counterpart in the sense that Seoul is actually South Korea’s capital and is a leading technological innovator with a horizon of neon-lit businesses, skyscrapers and transportation.
Agents of Mayhem certainly retains the humour of the Saints Row series as the characters have their own emotes, while the vehicle A.I. produces some fun dialogue such as asking if he can change the radio station or being comedically sarcastic about remaining still instead of being on the move, alongside the announcements made via the tannoy system at ARK including an extreme shortage of toilet paper.
There is free downloadable content including the Franchise Force skin pack which provides an alternative costume for Hollywood, Hardtack and Fortune, while Agents of Mayhem’s Day One Edition’s Legal Action Pending downloadable content comprises of six alternative costumes, alongside the most important pre-order bonus of all for fans of Volition and Saints Row as Johnny Gat is also a pre-order bonus character.
Agents of Mayhem’s remote play performance is excellent as it retains the quality of graphics, audio and general performance from the PS4 version. The control scheme has been optimised accordingly resulting in firing your weapon and fine aiming being mapped to the top right and left of the touch screen, while performing a melee attack and sprinting is re-mapped to the bottom right and left of the touch screen respectively; which makes for a comfortable and enjoyable remote play experience.
There are effectively two sets of control schemes covering on foot and driving controls. The on foot control scheme consists of pressing R2 to shoot; pressing L2 to fine aim; pressing R1 to use a special ability; pressing L1 to gremlin tech; simultaneously pressing L1 and R1 to perform a mayhem ability; pressing X to jump or quickly pressing X up to three times to perform a triple jump; pressing square to reload or holding square to pickup a weapon or object; pressing O to dash or cloak; pressing triangle to interact with objects or scan; pressing up on the d-pad to call a vehicle; pressing down to view the mission menu, pressing left or right on the d-pad to swap agent; holding left or right on the d-pad to emote; pressing L3 to sprint; pressing R3 to perform a melee attack; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move your character; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to rotate the camera angle; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu.
The driving control scheme consists of holding R2 to accelerate; pressing L2 to brake or reverse; pressing L2 and X to perform a quick turn; pressing triangle to enter or exit vehicles; pressing square to boost; pressing X to drift; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to steer your vehicle; and changing the direction of the right analogue stick to pan the camera. Tapping the touch pad displays the ARK menu, while the light bar produces a bright shade of purple, alongside vibration which occurs when double or triple jumping and again when landing the jump, winding up Rama’s crossbow as you wait to unleash it upon enemies, colliding with another vehicle or obstacle during driving a vehicle and when being shot or hit by an enemy.
Graphically, Agents of Mayhem delivers a breathtaking open-world environment with incredible scale without ever feeling sparse in any area, while there are some amazing touches such as the explosions from destroying Doctor Babylon’s technology and utilising mayhem abilities, accompanied by wonderful particle effects when warping to or from the ARK; which is all complimented by story cutscenes that are beautifully presented in a high budget artistic cartoon style. PS4 Pro does not increase the resolution beyond 1080p, although it produces an enhanced level of detail and takes the anisotropic filtering from x4 to x16 resulting in greater texture detail which is complimented by higher quality shadow effects and texture resolution for particle effects, while the density of pedestrians and vehicles throughout the open-world city has been elevated to create an even more lively environment. PS4 Pro support is accompanied by HDR which provides a significant improvement in contrast and colour depth, while rather impressively being achieved on PS4 Pro at up to double the frame-rate of the PS4 at 60FPS.
The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, missions menu, ARK menus, options menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and touch pad. The presentation is somewhat minimalist in appearance as the background of the menu screens revolves around your chosen character’s surroundings.
The fun and humorous tone of voice-overs from the Saints Row series certainly continues in Agents of Mayhem with excellent performances throughout the voice-over cast. Trevor Devall voices Hollywood, Rottmaner and Scotter T.M. Bull having previously voiced Rocket Raccoon in the Guardians of the Galaxy and Rocket & Groot animated series and Ravus Nox Fleuret in Final Fantasy XV, while Terrence Carson voices Hardtack having voiced Big Tony in Saints Row IV, Kratos in the God of War series from God of War I through to God of War: Ascension, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale and Mortal Kombat and Othello in Unreal Tournament III. Melanie Milichino voices Fortune having previously voiced Pandora in Dropzone, Momiji in For Honor and Lt. Belica in Paragon, while Salli Saffioti voices Carol from HR having previously voiced Petra in Horizon: Zero Dawn, Torch and Whirlwind in numerous Skylanders games, Ingrid Hunnigan in Resident Evil 4 and 6 as well as animated films Resident Evil: Degeneration and Damnation.
Sound effects include walking, running, single, double or triple jumping, shooting at enemies, performing melee attacks, using mayhem abilities, enemies shooting and attacking your character and ambience such as vehicle engines and beeping of car horns. Agents of Mayhem does not return to a licensed soundtrack in the style of Saints Row IV, although if you enjoyed the original music from the Saints Row series, then you will be happy to know that Malcolm Kirby Jr. who composed the original soundtrack themes for Saints Row IV and Saints Row: The Third, alongside Larry E. Gates II who previously worked on Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell and Saints Row IV and Cris Velasco who has composed music for Bloodborne, Overwatch, the original God of War trilogy and the first two Borderlands games; all return to compose an original soundtrack. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation which is surprising as it could have produced voice-overs from your squad’s agents and any radio chatter when receiving mission instructions from your allies onboard the ARK.
The trophy list includes 50 trophies with 42 bronze trophies, 4 silver trophies, 3 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include the Designated Driver bronze trophy for calling in an agent vehicle for the first time and the Smells Like Home bronze trophy for warping into the ARK for the first time, while the majority of trophies are naturally earned from progressing through the story for unlocking and upgrading, destroying enemies and completing missions. Harder trophies include the Hardcore Gamer silver trophy for completing all operations on difficulty level 7+; the Super Agent gold trophy for reaching level 40 on any agent; and the Get Personal gold trophy for completing all agent personal missions and get all agents to level 20. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 30 to 50 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are a staggering 16 difficulty levels in which every mission can be replayed after completing every mission throughout your first playthrough with the major differences being a risk and reward element as playing on harder difficulty levels will result in much larger XP and cash bonuses. However, your approach to defeating enemies must be adapted to the corresponding difficulty level as wide open running and gunning with any of your agents exposed to enemies will usually work during easier difficulty levels, although it most certainly will not when playing on harder difficulty levels.
Given Saints Row IV: Re-Elected had a fully featured online co-operative and competitive multiplayer; it is somewhat surprising to not find any local or online multiplayer in Agents of Mayhem. However, there is a technical form of online co-operative multiplayer courtesy of the connected contracts feature in which players can share or join a contract with another player on their friends list or contribute to a global connected contract which changes on a daily basis such as defeating a particular quantity of a certain enemy type with a specific character before the contract, although it does require you to reach level 8 before the global conflict feature is unlocked. Global conflict plays out in a similar fashion to that of Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition in which every player contributes to the all important statistics.
Replayability originates from lots of primary missions, secondary missions and personal, shared and daily global contracts, changing squad members to diversify your approach to each mission, customisable and upgradeable weapons and abilities loadouts, Legion technology and Gremlin technology built using schematics and gathered crafting materials and 16 difficulty levels that will have players returning for many dozens of hours.
• Title: Agents of Mayhem
• Developer: Volition
• Publisher: Deep Silver/Koch Media
• System: PS4
• Format: Retail/PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1/Global Conflicts Sharing Functionality
• Hard Drive Space Required: 38.79GB (Version 1.01)