Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Agents of Mayhem (Xbox One) Review

As a fan of Saints Row IV and Gat Out of Hell, I was eager to try out Agents of Mayhem, since it's essentially a spin off game based off one of the Gat endings.  I was fully sold on playing it once I saw the achievement art.  Eighties greatness!

Like Saints Row, this game is a third person shooter.  Instead of one agent, your team consists of three that you can switch between as the need arises.  Each agent has a different weapon and special moves.  There are machine guns, chain guns, get the picture.  All of the agents were unique and stood out as characters.  The specials were sometimes like grenades, sometimes debuffs, or even an alt-fire for their weapon.  To round out their abilities, agents also can use a mayhem move when the meter is filled (this meter isn't shared among them, either).  Most of these were a joy to use.  I'll admit Hollywood, while not my favorite agent, has a great mayhem move.  Just like a Michael Bay-esque action hero, he gets dramatic music and lots of explosions.  It's useful and appropriate.

Movement is...okay at best.  Sure, it has some nice stuff, like a triple jump and a dash/air dash (for some agents).  The dash has a cooldown that isn't shown, but I eventually got the timing down.  The triple jump is serviceable, although it doesn't really seem to cover enough ground considering how high some of the buildings are.  There are lifts and other things to help you get to the top, but being able to scale buildings was something done much better in an older, similar style game.  If the agent doesn't have an air dash, they can usually grab a wall and pull themselves up a bit higher.  While it has its uses, I feel the air dash is better and more useful.

Aiming is also an aspect I had some issues with.  The longer you hold the stick in a direction, the faster it will move.  That's...great for some people, but it almost always messed me up.  I constantly overshot targets while trying to aim at them.  I really wish there was an option to change or reduce this.  There is a sensitivity option, but it doesn't seem to affect that.  After a few hours, I got used to it.  The aiming is also pretty generous, so you don't have to be dead on to get a hit.  You do still have to be pretty accurate for a critical hit, though.

As you kill enemies and complete missions, you will gain experience and level up.  Each level grants a point that can increase one of your passive skills.  Being a team player (and having read some sage advice), I put all my points into the squad skills first, since they would benefit all members of my team.  Each agent also has three core abilities that you must use an upgrade core to buy.  These can either be obtained from mission rewards, or by collecting 10 core fragments around the world.

Oh, and there's still more.  There are three modifiers agents can equip to customize their skills and weapon.  You also purchase base upgrades that effect the whole team as the agency levels up.  Gremlin tech is basically consumables that are special attacks, buffs, or debuffs.  Finally, there is Legion tech, which are extra modifiers that you equip to your modifiers.  It might sound complicated, but it makes sense once you start playing the game.

The game flows like most typical third person open world games.  Go to a place, do the thing, get rewards.  There's some collectibles around the map, but they are basically the core fragments.  I like that you need to do two part missions to unlock new agents.  The second part is basically using them, so you learn what they are capable of.  Since you should switch your teams around a lot, this is useful knowledge.  Story missions are made up of multiple parts, and not many opportunities for a break.  While there is also a mission replay feature, you have to beat the game to get it.

For the open-world aspect, there are many other things to do around the map.  They are all pretty much random, which is good and bad.  Good because you can always have more to do, but bad because they tend to be generic, and you can never be "done" with them all.  That ties into the random contracts that you can do.  Legion also has secret bases that have hidden entrances that can appear out of the environment.  It's something that I would have thought about as a kid, and it's cool to see it here.  It feels legit.  Unfortunately, these bases start to feel very generic because they are randomly assembled from a few different room types.  Completing a base, or taking back and outpost can spawn one of Legion's doomsday weapons.  Doing these wasn't fun for me.  I kept doing them because I wanted to at least try them all.  Getting a golem to spawn took me 22 attempts...which is sad because there are only 3 possibilities!

I liked Agents of Mayhem, but the aiming and movement could use a little work.  It reminded me a lot of Crackdown, a game I love, but wasn't as good as that sadly.  The world is built like Crackdown, but is definitely covered with a Saints Row IV skin...just look at all those purple lights!  I liked my rental enough to eventually purchase and complete the game.

The Good:
Lots of things to do, and characters to do it with.  Some funny jokes and the achievement pictures are awesome!

The Bad:
The movement and aiming could use little work.  Enemy lairs feel very generic.

The SaHD:
At various points, the game was definitely getting harder.  Then I noticed the game kept upping my difficulty setting as I played.  Don't do that!

(Agents of Mayhem was rented and later purchased from Redbox)

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