Welcome to the first Cruel Gamers Thesis, what I'll probably be dubing my game reviews from now on. Now for my first I want to just crap out a general idea of what I'll be producing, so I've chose a game that I've been playing alot recently and thought to go ahead with a few points. Personally I feel I could add more at some intervals
The following review contains spoilers for Agents of Mayhem, given it's been about a year I doubt many care however if you do you've been warned
What is Agents of Mayhem?
Agents of Mayhem is both an actual and spiritual follow up to the Saints Row saga from Volition, met with a heavily mixed reaction by critics, the game is a third person shooter which works on a three hero party system however, as opposed to that of the Saints Row games where you'd have the two other characters fighting alongside you, Agents of Mayhem allows you to switch between these three characters on the fly during combat to quickly dispatch your enemies.
According to the Wiki, the story follows the "Recreate Earth" ending of Gat out of Hell. The Plot follows the Agents of MAYHEM in the midst of LEGION's global takeover. Persephone Brimstone, ex-LEGION and previous member of the Morningstar is the Head of MAYHEM brings together 12 field agents - or 14 if you buy/claim the Day one DLC with Johnny Gat himself and buy the DLC for the other character of which I can't name because I'm not spending 3.99 for a character with two extra missions - as well as a cast of agents working to assist them in the field to take revenge LEGION after they attacked Paris in retaliation to her discovery their plans to harness the power of dark matter energy and stole the airship which acts as the main hub for the game; the ARK. Later on, LEGION carries out Devil's Night which brings the entire world to it's knees and under the thumb of LEGION.
Let me start this Review by saying; Whilst I started playing the game during 1.04 which means most of the bugs would've been squashed, 1.05 is the state of which the game would've been somewhat acceptable at launch. The most notable change to gameplay is the pulse which they added to the agent vehicles which allows you to send LEGION vehicles and civilian vehicles flying after bashing into them however...
As this is a review over both patches, there were several issues in 1.04 of the game which will be relevant to those who don't have access to the internet on their consoles/pc or those who wish to play the game unpatched for some satanic reason which I should address.
A strange problem seemed to be the fluidity of speech between characters during the missions, which was extremely delayed whilst driving which in the long term isn't much of an issue, however there does still appear to be some delay between voice lines in 1.05 so the issue isn't completely ironed out, the fact that it's been 5 entire patches and the voice line prompts aren't working is honestly shocking to me and I will be taking this into account when "scoring" this game.
Another issue in pre-1.05 patches among the completionist/trophy/achievement communities - and for myself being part of this collective - was that you couldn't use the Mission Replay function to go back and unlock a difficulty related trophy, something that should've been there in the base game and again took 5 updates to fix. However, the underlying issue for some of the people who went for this on their first playthroughs before the patch was released to go back and clear them was the random changing of difficulties halfway through playing between missions and if their entire party was wiped 2-4 times in the same mission, regardless of what you chose in the ARK before leaving which to my knowledge hasn't been changed with 1.05. There isn't even a notification to alert you to the fact that the difficulty has changed so you have to actively check the map/your squad screen to see if the difficulty has been reduced or increased when you partake in new missions.
So, What's the game actually like?
I have good news. This game is NOT the "Dark Souls" of any genre or the Saints Row/Red Faction multiverse.
The game takes us to Seoul, South Korea to fight against Dr. Babylon, Leader of LEGION's Ministry of Pride who is planning to harness the energy of a Dark Matter Crystal orbiting the earth. We start out with Franchise Force and eventually are granted the means to unlock more agents as we progress through the game, taking on each one of Babylons lieutenants as we do, leading up to a massive battle spanning multiple dimensions in the multiverse at the end of the game.
The story is built up in light of Saturday-morning cartoons and Superhero movies however, sometimes the characters and story feel built up more on internet culture and pop culture more than anything - especially August Gaunt whose character is built on the impression people have of these one-shit-wonder boy stars who mercilessly abuse autotune but somehow get away with it because abs, and do so until their audience finds something new or are exposed to the truth of how crap they really are.
Even though there are several humorous moments and the build of the game supports the entertainment of all ages, the game seems to fall flat in keeping you entertained in the run up to the end game and by post game you'll be left wanting something a little more than what you ended up with... even though a battle in the multiverse is pretty kick ass.
Agents of Mayhem is open world with varying objectives for you to grind away at inbetween and after you've completed the story missions.
Contested locations are basically the answer to the Saints Row "outposts" and "city takeover" events in Agents of Mayhem. Unfortunately, they're not as intricate.
These events are mainly destroying machines that LEGION can use to make your life much harder and then taking over a main command area which will allow you to see mini events in the area such as Legion Patrols, Legion Equipment, Targets of Interest (vehicles which drive about and you destroy) and one of the games' more interesting features; LEGION Lairs.
Legion Lairs are randomly generated "dungeons" with small objective such as destroying Power Conduits, clearing out enemies from within a room or hacking into LEGION servers which have an abundance of treasure chests hidden about as well as secret rooms and secret rooms within those secret rooms for you to root out. Unfortunately these do become dry quite quickly as you'll be forced into your fair share to complete the campaign as well as the Global Offensive.
Two special contested locations should be noted
Before 1.05 LEGION would be able to take Gremlin Hideouts and Relic's Fortune machines from you as well as taking back all of their bases however a big change was that LEGION would no longer be allowed to take the Hideouts and Fortune Machines meaning you'd permanently have places within Seoul to grab tech and cash should you need it without being forced to return to the ARK. Ontop of this the decision was made that the player would always be able to keep one base, as to make sure they'd have access to the mini-event locations at any time they'd feel like going to them in a single area.
Doomsday Events are mainly bigger Contested Location events. They're split into three different types;Golems; You'll face off one of these towards the end of the Prologue, they're basically rock monsters that you have to shoot the center of for a good minute to take out and are normally reinforced by a couple of Helltroopers.Gravity Domination; A Gravity rift has opened up in the city, protected by a shield that's maintained by two pylons on platforms up in the air that you have to interact with. Unfortunately once you reach one of these pylons you can pretty much avoid the platforming and jump across to the other before blasting the rift shut. A bit of an oversight on the dev teams part or just laziness?Dark Matter Fracking Station; The longest of the three events, Fracking Stations are used to mine Dark Matter from the earth however they cause explosions of Dark Matter in their immediate area, Agents have to hack three panels beneath the station and survive for about half a minute to a minute inbetween each hack taking on LEGION troops whilst avoiding explosions from the Dark Matter Fracking station
Contracts are basically challenges you can partake in during the game, there are three types.World Contracts - Contracts that all agents can partake in, normally consist of "kill x with x" or "pick up x with x"Agent Contracts - Contracts that require you to play as a certain agent or (as of 1.05) play with a certain agent in your squad to complete, a bit more complex on the objectives than the world contractsConnected Contracts - The only online concept of this game, contracts which you and 5 other players can partake in with heavily grindy objectives to complete. Normally consists of killing certain enemies or picking up an amount of materials/cash but can go further into the complex by specifying enemies, having you clear alerts, clear Contested Locations and Doomsday events etc.
Your basic time based phone game with either rewards or access to a LEGION Lair, completion of all 12 regions unlocks the Global Offensive Lair which is a bigger Lair and gives you ultimate LEGION Tech schematics for the Agents that you complete them with.
Even though there's an abundance of content, it's too little and far between. With Saints it actually felt like we were working towards something, getting better at each minigame to get to the gold for all of them so we could unlock whatever bonus the golds got us, here it just feels like we're doing it all for skins... the epitome of all modern day games.
Agent customization comes down to three different areas and is severely underwhelming in comparison to that of the Saints series yet again, even that of Gat in Hell.
Gadgets and Legion Technology
Gadgets are basically the skills you'll be using throughout combat. You have a Passive, Active and Weapon skill. Active Skills are activated in opposition to grenades, Weapon Skills adjust a factor of your weapon to do more damage in a certain state/action and passives are as they are on the tin.
Unfortunately for each agent you'll have 3 Gadgets for each category to choose from, which can be further adjusted using Legion Technology which is unlocked around early-mid game. You unlock Legion Tech by running Legion Lairs both in Seoul and through Global Offensives and craft it using materials given to Gremlin either in the ARK or in her workshops throughout Seoul. Unfortunately you're only allowed to attach Legion tech to your gadgets through consulting Claymore in the ARK underneath the vehicle customization kiosk.
Leveling and Core Upgrades
Agents can level up to 20 through experience, unlocking a skill point to go into one of four areas. Once they've reached level 20, you can use Dark Matter Cores to further level them another 20 times as well as use 3 cores to unlock the agent's Core Upgrades which are massive upgrades to their general stats and abilities. To fully upgrade each agent you'll need 23 cores, multiplied by the 14 agents meaning a total of 322 cores - less if you dont buy the two DLC agents. Thankfully cores can drop from enemies, you can collect 350 shards throughout Seoul (which translates into 35 cores), earn shards through chests and/or mission rewards and be rewarded cores and/or shards from the VR room which means it shouldn't take too much effort to level those agents up using cores in the post game.
Skins and Vehicles
You have a much smaller selection of Vehicles to choose from in AOM and can only select one at a time to use with limited color options in the form of vehicle skins. Each vehicle is unlocked from discovering their blueprints from chests, contested areas or as mission rewards.
On top of this you can find Character skins for both your character and their weapons, the acceptions to this being the DLC skins which you pay for, the golden weapon skin that unlocks when they reach level 20 and their "Team" Skin which unlocks after finishing their agent mission and their team's agent mission.
Agency Leveling gives you access to upgrades that can help you with exploring such as the ability to scan and pick up chests and shards whilst exploring Seoul, having extra turbo in your vehicles and the pickup for cash and xp being increased. The different ways to earn XP typically involve upgrading your characters, purchasing their core abilities, finishing their agent missions etc. However, this system feels heavily lackluster again in comparison to Saints Row.
Agents of Mayhem certainly has a good entertainment factor, unfortunately... this is betrayed by the lackluster leveling system and lack of compelling and captivating content in the post game to keep the player attached to the game.
My main issue with AOM however is the fact that it was released with so many minor bugs and general issues that could've been sorted and should've been sorted pre-release it's sickening, especially the issue with the achievement/trophy regarding playing missions on a difficulty not being available through mission replay for 5 entire updates.
For these reasons and several others; I have to score the game 6/10 at most. It's an enjoyable experience to an extent but the replay-ability of this game is all but naught at the end of the day, the customization compared to recent volition games is horrible and as a full priced release? The game feels as if it's less than a consumer would deserve for their hard earned money.
Fortunately; the game is ?20 at Tesco which is on average the price of an Indie release and they seem to have a good number of Day One editions available so go grab it with your cornflakes and tomatoes if you wish.
Final Score; 6/10
+ Plot is enjoyable
+ Characters are entertaining
- Too many issues before most recent patch
- Character Customization is lackluster
- Next to no replayability
- Most features feel like Saints Row Downgrades