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What would happen if you dropped a third-person shooter into the world of Saints Row? The answer is Agents of Mayhem, a bright and colorful squad-based action game that boasts Saints Row's trademark tongue-in-cheek humor and a whole new gameplay experience.
I had the opportunity to tackle a full level of Agents of Mayhem at E3 2016, thrust into the futuristic city of Seoul where a tech-loving baddie named Steeltoe was out to get his hands on a virtual idol named Aisha. If Hatsune Miku was a full-on AI that had the ability to turbo-charge a guy made mostly out of mechanical parts, well, that would be Aisha.
The scenes with Aisha were very entertaining, as she spoke like a K-pop idol despite all of the violence going on in the game. Long story short, she decided that she no longer wanted my team to rescue her and would be "following her heart" in order to marry Steeltoe. How ungrateful!
When Agents of Mayhem ships, it will boast a roster of 12 characters you can mix and match into a team of three to send out on missions. Each character has their own personality, weapons and special abilities, which you're supposed to alternate between regularly. Swapping between your teammates is instantaneous with a tap on the d-pad and characters heal when they aren't in use. They are also supposed to boast abilities that work well together, furthering your reasons to swap out regularly but, unfortunately, I found mowing down the mobs of enemies as a single character worked far better than juggling a team, so hopefully either the challenge will be raised or the ability combinations will be more rewarding when the final game ships.
Running around Seoul, there were splashes of Saints Row all over the place. Mascots from that sister series could be spotted and the world was just as lively and full of colors. The characters also suffer from a severe case of potty-mouth, which they use to comedic effect on a regular basis.
One interesting feature was that, as I moved through the level, the selected character would comment on the unfolding story or what was being said in my headset. I'm guessing that means that each character did a full script for the game in their trademark fashion, which is a nice touch.
I ran with the team of Hollywood, Hardtack and Fortune. Hollywood is a straight actor/soldier with an attitude that would give Mortal Kombat's Johnny Cage a run for his money while Hardtack is a gruff beast of a shotgunner. As for Fortune, she's fast and agile and boasts a drone that can be thrown into combat at her side.
While the standard running and gunning featured a lot of move/shoot/push button/repeat, the boss battle with Steeltoe was far more interesting. Figuring out his moves was more engaging than mowing down samey hordes of baddies and I actually found good reason to switch out characters and experiment with ability combinations.
Not due out until 2017, I'm looking forward to seeing how Agents of Mayhem expands by the time it finally launches. The team at Volition clearly knows how to make fun, varied experiences, so here's hoping that a bit more of that Saints Row formula bleeds into this new shooter come release day.