agents of mayhem e3 2016
Agents of Mayhem: E3 2016: Summer Blockbuster Mediocrity?
I love Volition and the Saints Row series, so getting hands on with their new Saints Row “universe” title, Agents of Mayhem, I thought would have been a special treat. But I came away feeling underwhelmed.
By the time Saints Row 4 came out a few years back, the series had gone right the hell out the window, including dream sequences with Rowdy Roddy Piper and sex scenes with a sentient orb-shaped robot. “Hey, we’ve got a voice option when you are creating your character where you can sound like Nolan North CALLED ”˜Nolan North’”. That’s the level of silliness I’ve come to expect from a Saints Row game. As Agents of Mayhem is decked in purple and even sporting the Saints Row logo in the original trailer, I was expecting a lot of that banana pants madness to work its way into the latest iteration.
However, Agents of Mayhem feels like a much”¦safer”¦new direction for the Saints Row series to go. Generally speaking, most developers latch on to a winning franchise name like Resident Evil or Final Fantasy with the knowledge of calling it something that people recognize will lead to bigger sales. But the name of the game is Agents of Mayhem with no colon: Saints Row in Time or something. Weird. Based on the website FAQ: “While Agents of Mayhem is part of a larger Saints Row Universe, this is a brand new IP with a focus on a new cast of characters, new gameplay, and a new open world. We do have a few surprises in store for Saints Row fans that we’ll be revealing at a later date!”, which presumably means that Johnny Gat’s cryogenically frozen head will be a playable character. At least one can hope.
So getting hands on the game, it feels that Volition is attempting to go more of a GI Joe/Saturday morning cartoon route with Agents of Mayhem. You get to select a party of three of twelve named “heroes” with such names as Fortune, Hollywood and Hardtack. The Saints Row gangster theme has been now offset with one of pirates, as both Fortune and Hardtack decked out like they belong on a raiding vessel off the coast. I personally mixed it up with a fourth playable agent, a long range bow sniper named Rama. Each agent has their own League of Legends style abilities, such as Hardtack’s harpoon which, when hitting an enemy, teleports them directly in front of Hardtack for him to best use both barrels of his shotgun. Hollywood, while fairly standard assault rifle shooter has an “ultimate” ability after charging which causes explosions to go off around him as if he’s in the middle of action movie. Pair this with the ability to literally switch between all three characters with a push of the D-pad, and it could lead to some interesting mechanics between character moves. As most convention demos go, they are fall-off-a-log simple, so I never felt challenged or had the need to really explore the possibilities between my agents; simple run-and-gun worked.
Another head scratching ability across all of the agents was the ability to build up this bizarre invincibility meter which, when active, allows you to run into targets to kill them and lasts entirely too long. We’re talking like 20-30 seconds here. Again, not sure if it was a tailored demo piece or not, but”¦again”¦weird.
Anyway, the vertical slice we were given dropped me right into an open world futuristic Seoul, Korea, battling an enemy organization calling itself COBRA”¦er”¦I mean, L.E.G.I.O.N. (according to the Agents of Mayhem website, stands for: The League of Evil Gentlemen Intent On Obliterating Nations). The mission consisted of my providing security for a Hatsune Miku-styled digital K-Pop star, who’s being threatened by a local L.E.G.I.O.N. lieutenant going by the handle SteelToe (because, sure, why not).
Going through the third-person action game motions, which escalated to a climactic final K-Pop dance battle aboard a floating helicarrier, I finished the mission and shrugged my shoulders. I see the direction its attempting to go, but none of the Saints Row bite seems to be there: my brain instantly goes to the E3 2011 trailer for Saints Row: The Third. Of course, Saints Row earned its chops across all four games, so I understand that Agents of Mayhem is going to have to work its way into my heart before it can truly replace the presumed Saints Row 5: Saints in Time that Agents of Mayhem should have been. I’m just hoping that it comes at me with more than what was showing at E3, or I may not make it to Agents of Mayhem 2.