Agents of May­hem

Agents of May­hem may just be Vo­li­tion’s Jazz Odyssey. Hope you like the new di­rec­tion.


While still keep­ing one foot planted in the Saints Row uni­verse, Agents of May­hem is Vo­li­tion’s bold at­tempt to cre­ate some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent. Whether or not you think it suc­ceeds de­pends on how deeply you’re will­ing to im­merse your­self in a col­or­ful, yet al­most sleepy, city, tak­ing out waves of en­e­mies with the in­tel­li­gence of Afghan Hounds, in an ac­tion game where the shoot­ing is ser­vice­able, but not out­stand­ing. The back­drop in Agents Of May­hem is a fu­tur­is­tic Seoul where the game’s vil­lain, Dr Baby­lon, rules over an or­ga­ni­za­tion called Le­gion. His aim? World dom­i­na­tion—bwa­ha­haha, and in­deed, ha. Work­ing from May­hem’s Ark high in the sky, con­trolled by the all-know­ing Perse­phone Brim­stone and her as­sis­tant, Fri­day, your job is to stop him.

You’re launched into AOM’s tu­to­rial with For­tune, Hol­ly­wood, and Hard­tack, three of 12 agents you can play as over the course of the game—the re­main­ing nine are un­locked as you progress. The cam­paign fol­lows a set pat­tern, with Dr Baby­lon’s lieu­tenants be­ing in­tro­duced in turn, each char­ac­ter’s story be­ing fleshed out with a hand­ful of mis­sions. Dr B’s ros­ter of un­der­bosses in­clude not only mis­guided brain­boxes from the realm of ap­plied sci­ence, but also a Justin Bieber-alike, and a girl group from the sac­cha­rine world of K-pop.

Un­for­tu­nately, a few hours into AOM, it hits you that Seoul has a seem­ingly in­fi­nite num­ber of un­der­ground lairs, and that you will have to spend an aw­ful lot of time in them in or­der to un­lock ev­ery agent. But de­spite hav­ing to clear the same lair ev­ery time, I was as much con­sumed by th­ese mis­sions that re­vealed the per­son­al­ity, weaponry, skills, and unique an­i­ma­tions of each new agent as I was with the main cam­paign. Even some of the agents’ back­story mis­sions eclipse the less-in­ter­est­ing boss episodes.

Squad ex­per­i­men­ta­tion is the cor­ner­stone upon which Agents of May­hem has been built, and while you can choose any three un­locked agents for a mis­sion, you’re never fight­ing side by side with them. Rather, you morph be­tween the three by us­ing the mouse scroll wheel. This is use­ful to help an agent re­cover when they’re low on health. Should an agent die, you can fight on with two or even one, but if all three per­ish, its time to start again.

Ten of May­hem’s agents are equipped with guns, while the spir­i­tual Rama has an en­ergy bow and the ninja Scheherazade wields a katana. I spent most of my time with the lat­ter teamed with For­tune and Brad­dock. Guns are bal­anced so that, for ex­am­ple, Oni’s si­lenced pis­tol deals sim­i­lar dam­age to Daisy’s mini­gun, so big­ger doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean bet­ter. Skill up­grades, char­ac­ter buffs, and gad­gets come at you swiftly as you progress, while char­ac­ter move­ment is smooth, each agent hav­ing a triple jump abil­ity to help them plat­form and dodge at­tacks while in com­bat.

Seoul has a seem­ingly in­fi­nite num­ber of un­der­ground lairs

Seoul good

The Seoul in which you’re bat­tling Le­gion is a city of mas­sive mod­ern ed­i­fices, ex­pan­sive open plazas, and an­cient tem­ples sur­rounded by vi­brant pink cherry blos­som trees. With laneways and cut-throughs abound, it’s ideal for mas­sive-scale bat­tles—how­ever, apart from hear­ing what sounds like the oc­ca­sional loop­ing of ‘Korean Crowd Panic’ from the BBC sound ef­fects li­brary, it feels pop­u­lated rather than ‘lived in’.

AOM’s ap­peal lies in the vari­a­tion of char­ac­ters and while its cam­paign chugs along ami­ably enough, there’s also plenty to do in Seoul out­side of the story mis­sions. Its sys­tems are gen­er­ous, and with—I kid you not— 15 lev­els of dif­fi­culty, it can be as in­tense an ex­pe­ri­ence as you care to make it. It is noisy, brash and, de­spite some carps, fun, but per­son­ally I feel as if I’ve just watched 20 hours straight of Nick­elodeon while lis­ten­ing to a ran­dom cuss gen­er­a­tor. I’m off to lie down in a dark­ened room for a while.

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