Agents of Mayhem review: Destroying a really dull open world
Scratch beneath the surface of Agents of Mayhem—the hero-based shoot-and-loot open-world game from developer Volition—and you’ll only find more shooting, looting, and hero-based action. It lacks the surprisingly heartfelt camaraderie of the studio’s later Saints Row titles. It’s not as beautifully, thematically simple as Red Faction: Guerilla, but it is still a few solid hours of fun.
Agents of Mayhem is a pseudo-sequel/reboot/spinoff/prequel to Saints Row (and subsequently Red Faction—all three series are connected in subtle and not-so-subtle ways), but only diehard fans will likely notice it. Saints Row regulars like Pierce Washington, Oleg Kirrlov, and even Johnny Gat make appearances (that last one, only for pre-orderers). Yet they all operate under codenames in the G.I. Joe-like Mayhem, doing battle with the Cobra-esque Legion.
The game tries to seal the Saturday morning cartoon deal with actual cartoon cutscenes. They’re just too cheap looking—like Marvel’s oddly shaded modern fare, but jerkier—to take the gimmick all the way. It doesn’t help make it seem any less rushed when some of the scenes are notably not animated at all.
The soul in Seoul
Cheap or not, the animation is what is used to get the game’s pretty decent core conceit across. Legion’s evil council wants to take over the world, while the slightly less reprehensible Mayhem aims to stop them. A battle of “bad vs. evil,” as Mayhem’s ex-criminal director puts it, ensues. It’s a brighter and more colorful conflict than 90 percent of open-world games and far better at putting me in the mood for the open-ended shenanigans.