‘Agents of Mayhem’ Continues Saint’s Row’s Open-World Chaos

Bob Mackey

Not long ago, developer Volition stunned the world when they turned what could have been a Grand Theft Auto ripoff into a genuinely worthwhile series. Sadly, Saint’s Row seems to have taken a bit of a hiatus since 2015’s Gat Out of Hell, but Volition hopes to capture the same spirit with their upcoming Agents of Mayhem. And, with just a glance, you can definitely tell Agents of Mayhem comes from the Saint’s Row folks: It features the same mix of over-the-top action and subversive comedy their former series is known for. But will this new creation be just as inventive and fun?

What Is Agents of Mayhem?

Operating under the memorable tagline of “bad versus evil,” Agents of Mayhem sets up a fairly basic plot that features a team of colorful anti-heroes squaring off against a collection of equally colorful villains. Of course, this premise exists as an excuse for high-stakes mayhem to unfold in a futuristic version of Seoul. And you don’t just roll with one of Agents of Mayhem’s heroes; after selecting a team of three, you can switch between them at will—a smart tactic if a particular character’s health gets too low.

After playing a few hours of Agents of Mayhem at a recent hands-on event, it’s easy to see just how much Volition borrowed from their past work. Agents of Mayhem plays out like a mix of Saint’s Row and the Xbox 360 classic Crackdown, borrowing the “anything goes” attitude of the former and the “leap hundreds of feet into the air” gimmick of the latter. But with this new production, there’s much more of a focus on combat, with constant hordes of enemies that take a few too many bullets before keeling over. Ultimately, the goal of combat is to perform well in order to build up a meter, which, when full, unleashes an ultimate attack that usually clears the screen of enemies.

This might have something to do with the particular chunk of the game chosen for us to play leaned a little too much into combat. Make no mistake, Agents of Mayhem’s enemy encounters are stylish and riddled with explosions, but the few hours I experienced featured little downtime between taking out waves of enemies. And there’s also the aforementioned issue that the enemies simply take too many hits to successfully dispatch, but that could be a matter of taste. If you enjoyed, say, The Division, you won’t find the enemy durability too shocking in Agents of Mayhem.

Could This Be the New Saint’s Row?

Volition is definitely putting a lot behind this game, and while it still has some time to cook before release, right now, everything seems just a little too basic. Hopefully, this vertical slice of Agents of Mayhem isn’t representative of the whole. After playing and loving the latter Saint’s Row games, I can definitely see some great opportunities to take advantage of Agent’s open-world setting—even if they weren’t entirely on display during the demo. In any case, we’re sure to see more of Agents of Mayhem at this year’s E3, so stick with Fandom to see if it has a better showing this summer.

Bob Mackey
Bob Mackey is Games Editor at Fandom. Since joining the games press in 2007, he's written for sites like 1UP, Joystiq, The A.V. Club, Gamasutra, USgamer, and many others. He also hosts the weekly podcasts Retronauts and Talking Simpsons. Follow him on Twitter @bobservo.
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