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September 2018

Agents of Mayhem

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Volition
Release Date: Aug. 15, 2017 (US), Aug. 18, 2017 (EU)


PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Agents of Mayhem'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on June 17, 2017 @ 3:15 a.m. PDT

Agents of Mayhem is an open-world action game where a motley outfit of unique and diverse Super Agents are recruited from around the world to thwart the destructive schemes of the evil supervillain organization L.E.G.I.O.N.

Pre-order Agents of Mayhem

Agents of Mayhem isn't quite Saint's Row V. It's set in the larger Saint's Row multiverse (and in fact goes off one of the endings from Saint's Row: Gat out of Hell), but any connections are mostly Easter eggs. Instead, the best way to describe Agents of Mayhem is amoral G.I Joe vs. Cobra. It follows the group of an international group of special agents working for the organization they seek to stop the forces of L.E.G.I.O.N. from fulfilling their dastardly plans. The actual game takes places in Seoul, South Korea and follows M.A.Y.H.E.M.'s agents as they work to cause slightly less destruction than L.E.G.I.O.N..

Unlike Saint's Row, Agents of Mayhem won't have a fully customizable main character. Instead, there will be 12 different agents you can play as, each with different skills and abilities. Some of the characters are entirely new, like Hollywood, which is basically what you'd get if Johnny Cage were actually Captain America. Others, such as Kingpin (AKA The Third Street Saint's Pierce Washington), will be familiar to longtime fans of the franchise. Hollywood has a powerful machine gun and the ability to launch firework-like missiles. Kingpin has a powerful sub-machine gun and can throw his weapon to cause explosions. Characters also have special attacks that can obliterate entire groups of enemies, such as Hollywood's ability to cause action movie explosions to erupt around him for a short period of time.

Each character can also be further customized in a variety of ways. There will be cosmetic customizations for costumes and weaponry. There will also be a variety of skill trees to level up, which grant special passive bonuses to the characters. In addition, there will be collectibles, similar to the orbs in Saint's Row IV, which can be traded in for permanent and significant boosts to your character. In Hollywood's case, he can gain the ability to cause his Dash to stun enemies, allowing for easier follow-ups and cooler attacks. You'll even be able to upgrade the agency itself, which will grant special bonuses to every agent on the roster.

Not only can you customize your character, but you can also personalize your vehicle. There are a variety of vehicles you can get, and they can be summoned at-will in the game. Each vehicle has its own handling and gimmicks, ranging from monster trucks to sports cars, and it can be given special skins to further customize its appearance. Each agent even has a favorite car, though this is entirely for flavor, not mechanic. Even something as simple as how the agent enters the car depends on the playable character.

Rather than picking one agent and being done with it, you'll form a team of three agents to take on missions. While there are certain "canonical" teams of agents, you're not limited in who you bring along on a mission and can form a team of any three agents. Each agent can be swapped at will and has health and shield bars, so you're rewarded for constantly flipping between characters rather than just picking a favorite. Figuring out which characters have complementary skills and abilities is a great way to dominate your foes.

Our demo mission in-game was to track down the pop-star/international terrorist, August Gaunt. Gaunt's effectively everything you'd imagine from a self-absorbed pop star. He's in love with himself, his own voice, and his absurd amounts of money. He just also happens to be working for the forces of evil and needs to be stopped. The mission begins with the agents of Mayhem trying to track down Gaunt, first at one of his shows and then by finding his ugly, ugly, ugly cars. We're told that each agent has custom-recorded dialogue for every mission in the game, so you have the chance to see different and equally funny lines for each possible choice you bring along.

Agents also have non-combat skills as well. When we found Gaunt's ugly cars, we discovered that he had a hidden one, his prize "Tiffany," hidden behind a locked door. Most of the agents can attempt a minigame to beat the locked door, but any agent with a hacking skill is able to bypass it with a button press. This is a neat little feature that allows you to better customize your squad. Some agents are able to nullify shields more easily, some do greater damage to boss-style characters, and so on.

Eventually, we managed to steal Tiffany and used her to track down Gaunt. Unfortunately for Gaunt, he found out too late, and by the time he realized it, we were already cruising toward his hiding place. He attempted to self-destruct Tiffany and merely gave us a convenient bomb we could use to blow open the front door to his evil hideout.

The final bit of the demo involved a battle against a group of mind-controlled groupies who Gaunt was controlling using one of his many fiendish devices. Unlike most of our enemies, we didn't actually want to shoot these poor groupies in the face, and this is where gadgets come in. There are a variety of customizable gadgets, each of which can be used to activate special, and often wacky, powers. One early example we saw created a giant bowling ball that could be used to smash enemies. Against these rampaging groupies, we found a much better choice: a weapon that locks everything nearby in a temporary stasis bubble, allowing us the much-needed time to crush the machines that were controlling the enemy forces.

All in all, Agents of Mayhem is shaping up to be a solid spin-off of the Saint's Row franchise. While it may not star a certain puckish rogue, it has the same sense of irreverent humor mixed with countless explosions that made Saint's Row such a delight. The R-rated Saturday morning cartoon aesthetic gives it a real sense of style and flavor, and in general, it's just a goofy good time. Fans of the Row franchise — or anyone who likes blowing up everything — will want to keep an eye out for Agents of Mayhem when it hits stores this August.

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