First Impressions - Agents of Mayhem
December 01, 2017

Iíve lately not been doing proper Impressions post and instead opting for full blown reviews lately. It has improved my writing skills thanks to some general feedback from a few mates at Honest Gamers. Still, I think Iíll jump back in because my thoughts on Agents of Mayhem are not very complex, though neither is the game.

Now I loved the Saints Row franchise and their style is certainly pervasive in Mayhem but I am still under the impression that itís not sure what it wants to be. It goes the route of a mature Saturday morning cartoon but lacks the self-awareness that Saints Row had. While the last SR game pretty much abandoned all pretense of reality and opted to go straight for the fun factor (which it succeeded at greatly, I adore the Fourth), it still fails to go all the way. Despite a major amount of humor, Mayhem seems to try to take itself too seriouslyÖ somehow. Itís clearly not trying to but itís a weird case.

I got it for half off and then eventually just bought all of the DLC (thatís currently available as of this writing) and Iím frankly, more in it for the gameplay than anything else. When a Tumblr acquaintance tried to sell me on the concept of the game they talked about its great cast of characters with a few LGBT+ types running around. While it is refreshing to be able to play an open lesbian, I guess I kind of went in expecting a Mass Effect-esque storyline of romance and intrigue. Instead, Mayhem seems to make the same mistake both Titanfall games do, and most dialog is spent over radio chatter while driving to an objective or actively in a full-on firefight. I main Braddock who talks down to her alleged girlfriend, the mission-control mate named ďFridayĒ, where I can barely tell theyíre in a relationship at all. Any hints on sexuality in other characters is mostly just throwaway lines, otherwise you pretty much never see any of them interact together beyond dramatic radio shows that only half my mind is paying attention to while the other half is trying not to crash into every civilian, car, and tree thatís in my way when my car inevitably spins out from hitting one of those three. I canít say the writing is weak as itís often amusing but, as I said, I hardly find time to pay attention to it.

The RPS review of this game did make note of one thing I entirely agree with; the game doesnít do much in the way of combat feedback. RPS talked about how itís hard to tell if youíre actually getting hit and this is absolutely true. Combat is hectic and most of my attention is just trying to find where all the enemies are, finding cover, and then picking them off as available. My eyes are almost never on my health bar and I donít ever really get any notation when my shields are down. Compare to Borderlands, which gives you a border screen flash when shields go down, and then a red border of varying severity when your health starts dropping. Mayhem has none of this except one screen-border visual when Iím at about twenty percent and thatís pretty much all I get. Some unit gunned down Fortune, who has a sort of mid-tier health pool (as in not the squishiest) and she dropped to her knees and forced me into another character. As of this writing I still donít even know what killed her, but Braddock still cleaned up after her all the same.

Most of my gameplay, like any other open ended game is clearing the map and pretty much concentrating on unlocking my full hero set, including all of the DLCís. I hear the ninjagirl is good but sheís yet to pop up for me, I assume I have to burn through a series of the main quest as I did to unlock Red Card, Oni, Daisy, etc. It doesnít have a clear indication if Iíve cleared an area though, thereís no sectors or purple overlays like the SR games had. Instead thereís a microscopic icon next to each objective where I have to mouse over every single one to see if Mayhem controls it or not, and considering I just kind of do things as they come up, Itís not always clear to me what Iíve already done or not.

The game does one neat thing; enemies are sort of leveled with your squad and thereís even a subtle carry mechanic. Yísee, you donít necessarily have to swap out heroes constantly (which is a seamless and instant process, like swapping a weapon in other games) if you have one person that kicks enough ass as it is. Sure, Braddock doesnít burn through shields as well as Fortune does but she can do damn near everything else on her own (so far). As a result, I can main Braddock and plug in two weaker people and just go do a few missions with them in tow, and theyíll hoover up mission experience regardless of their own presence. Still, I like several of the characters and I want to try them out.

I remember mentioning in my AC:Origins review that I was underwhelmed but Origins was still a solid and fun game in its own right and I saw it to the end, which is cool because I havenít even beaten Syndicate yet (or Rogue). Mayhem is keeping my attention as I have several hours on it and it feels like half of it is spent in a car, and I feel the gameís traversal could really benefit from SR4′s superpowers. My overall point though was that I feel like I will see Mayhem to the end regardless of my first impressions.

Some of these points may be repeated on a formal review, where Iíll talk about the leveling system, agency mechanics and all that. As it is, the game is a pretty solid ďmehĒ and Iím glad I waited for a sale.

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pickhut pickhut - December 01, 2017 (12:57 PM)
Car conversations are the bane of my existence in open world games. More times than not, I simply don't care what the person is talking about, and worse, the conversation is sometimes integrated into the mission or task I'm trying to get done. GTA5 nearly bored me into qutting the game because someone would always ramble on whenever I had to drive halfway across the map with said person. Either actually make the conversation interesting, like in Deadly Premonition, or better yet, have an option for silence... like in Deadly Premonition.

I've been semi-interested in Agents of Mayhem for some time, even with the mediocre reception, but I guess I'm starting to lean towards a "pass" after reading this.
Zydrate Zydrate - December 01, 2017 (02:07 PM)
You can pass, or you can also wait for a sale that's more severe than 50% off. (Another year, perhaps?) At 50% the game was only 20$ which feels very worth it to me, but I missed the sale for the DLC which I got in a bundle for 25% off, which was still another 20. I think it was all as low as 12$ during the Autumn sale.

I'd recommend it if you're a fan of the SR games and you like Volition's style but otherwise, there's not much to write home about.

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