Posted Thu Jun 23, 2016 at 01:15 PM PDT by Brian Hoss
Now to play the waiting game…
Ahead of E3, Deep Silver finally announced what Volition has been busy working on, and that would be 'Agents of Mayhem.' But somewhere between the initial reveal and the rest of the game's media campaign, the message got pretty garbled.
Fortunately, within the confines of E3 2016, Volition was basically able to not only reintroduce the game, but also to back up that presentation with a hands-on demo. It was during this two-step number that the game really clicked for me. Where several recent big time games haven't made their characters' struggle for liberation especially interesting amid all-too serious gruff faces, 'Agents of Mayhem' puts the emphasis back on the fun of the ledger.
And I can say this while knowing that the 'Saints Row' series has had no real appeal for me for a long time. The special feel that 'Agents of Mayhem' has accomplished has had to stand on its own.
For example, this third-person action game gives the player a gun, a jump, a dash, and a special move. The special move can be used at will subject to a short cooldown. For the Hollywood character, who comes with a large helping of Brice Campbell, that special move is a quick vertical grenade shot. But using the special does more than just make the LEGION badies go boom, it also charges the Mayhem meter. Once full, Hollywood can trigger a "Michael Bay" inspired barrage of flack and grenades while basically mowing down enemies with a chain gun.
So combat with Hollywood is nice, but at the core of the gameplay is being able to switch to another agent at will. There are 12 total in the game, and the player takes three into a mission. By a flick of the d-pad, I was able to switch from playing as Hollywood to playing as Hardtack. Hardtack sports a shotgun, which can be tricky with the large playing areas. But Hardtack's special is a harpoon that essentially pulls an enemy up close, in prime position for a shotgun blast.
I went through the demo twice and also played as Rama (energy bow, charge shots) and Fortune (dual pistols and drone). Having three different characters on-hand meant being able to tag one in, say if my current character was short on life. It also meant being able to charge up three different mayhem attacks.
More importantly, I had three different characters who could react to the mission events. In the demo, the team is looking to meet up with Aisha. Aisha is one of the world's most popular pop stars, but she's also one of the world's most powerful AIs. LEGION, the bad guys, who seem to have the upper hand at the moment where the game occurs, have been wooing Aisha. MAYHEM has also been making entreaties to Aisha. She's requested a meeting, so I pick three agents and head out of the Ark. Because Aisha is a powerful AI, she can take control of various screens around Seoul. As such, I end up following her directions through the streets, the tranquility temple, and eventually to our rendezvous.
My journey isn't exactly stealthy, at every turn there are LEGION soldiers to dispatch, and though Aisha is directing me, I end up needed to do some server hacking to find her. This is all very ominous, and of course, it's also a trap.
When I finally I link up with Aisha, she lets me know she has decided to follow her heart and take her talents to LEGION. Hollywood responds to this revelation with a warm, "Fuck! I knew I shouldn't have trusted anyone more famous than me." Aisha traps me in server room, but I respond the only way I know how, by breaking out and wrecking anything LEGION I see.
It turns out that Aisha has a thing for Steeltoe. Steeltoe is a LEGION Lieutenant, and he's got a thing for technology. As I make my way to Steeltoe's flying Hellbarge, Aisha and Steeltoe conduct a wedding ceremony. By the time I arrive, the two beings have merged into a superboss. The ensuing fight is focused on a now giant Steeltoe, but I also have to contend with the entire barge arena as dancing holographic Aisha's attempt to kill me.
The agents and their support team are pretty funny, but what's better is that the dialog changes based on which exact agent I'm playing during any if these in-mission segments.
So yeah, while 'Sunset Overdrive' didn't really work for me, both in tone and in gameplay, 'Agents of Mayhem' is like an excellent anecdote to the overly serious aspirations of so many would-be blockbusters. That comes through in gameplay as there just so many different ways to unleash mayhem on the forces of LEGION.
What helps is that the game captures a comic-book and anime aspired world. It's colorful and full of recognizable character archetypes, but it also feels distinct from what else is going in gaming right now. That leaves me with others who have gotten into 'Agents of Mayhem,' wishing that the 2017 release was sooner rather than later.
You can find the latest info on 'Agents of Mayhem' linked from our Video Game Release Schedule.
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