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E3 2017: Hands On with Agents of Mayhem

by: Nicholas -
More On: Agents of Mayhem E3 2017

On Thursday at E3, I was able to play a demo of Deep Silver's new game, Agents of Mayhem. Here's something new I learned: this game is a Saints Row spinoff, and it's based on one of the endings from Saints Row IV. So it's like Nier Automata, except not at all. 

In this game, the Saints are no longer gang members, but part of a corporately run police agency tasked with taking out threats to their city. The thing is, they're not completely good guys. Players are still free to deal as much damage to the surrounding populace as possible, with seemingly little to no consequences. 

The first environment in the demo was a hub where the Saints, no, Agents, had access to their firearms, vehicles, and upgrades to their characters. In this game, players can optimize characters' skills and special abilities. There were eleven playable characters in the demo, and when I went to deploy, I chose three characters to diversify the performance and outcome of the gameplay.

Stylistically, the game arranges its cutscenes in something akin to Saturday morning cartoons. Trying to mix the mature yet wacky humor of previous games with something that looked kid-friendly is an interesting take, to say the least. 

In the hour I had with the game, I played part of a campaign mission and some of the open world. It's clear from the get-go that the ridiculousness of the Saints franchise is imbued into this game. In the mission, I was tasked with taking down a pop star named August Gaunt. In the cutscene he was in, he powered through his commercials and concerts with obscene sexual innuendo, but was also working on behalf of a clandestine criminal organization that all showed up on a jetplane in the middle of his concert.

And with that, the mission began. I chose three Agents: a tank with armed with a shotgun, a flanker armed with two auto pistols, and a sniper. They all had customizable outfits and weapon skins. 

I started out in the city. Much like in every open world game, I had the choice of going to the mission or doing other activities in the city, which may have been a futuristic version of Seoul. In the mission, I drove around in my Agent truck (you can choose a fast car, if that's your thing) to the objective. There, I hacked and shot my way through the bad guys. The combat is where the multiple agents come in handy. There were always multiple enemies constantly chipping away at my health with machine guns or stealthy types coming in close to slash me with their melee weapons. 

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Surprise, surprise, Gaunt wasn't there. So I made my way to another location, a Buddhist temple also teeming with bad guys. One of my upgrades gave me a scanning ability, with allowed me to track Gaunt by the scent of his cologne. Surprise, surprise, Gaunt wasn't there, but I did get some loot. I then went to the final location available in the mission portion of the demo, the party where Gaunt was at: a storage container where people were partying inside. 

This is where the special abilities came in handy. Two of them I had on-hand were an ability that turned people into bunnies, and one that turned them into giant hamster balls. They worked more as a distraction than doing any real damage, but they were fun. Each Agent also has their own specific ability. For instance Pierce, of Saints Row fame, now called Kingpin, can make everyone dance, allowing him to shoot them more easily.

My main objective inside the party, filled with strobe lights and people dancing with VR-like helmets on their heads, were to destroy the pylons that were controlling them. Enemies abounded, cornering me and nearly taking me out. One I was finished, the developer on-hand asked to try a sweet move, which ended up crashing the game. 

I didn't mind, of course, because I then got to try the open-world portion. Options I saw included vehicle-running for the Agents, or taking back outposts held by the antagonists, which are called the Legion. I took back the outposts, which essentially had me shooting up their tech and their bad guys guarding it. I then jumped all the way down to the street, because there is no fall damage in this game. I took out a golem and the enemies surrounding it, which were just casually hanging out in Seoul. 

And after that, I just stole some cars and did things everyone does in open world crime games. 

The only thing that is really different about this title is that the Saints, instead of being overt criminals, are now just dressed in paramilitary police uniforms. This strikes me as Saints Row with a poorly imitated Crackdown paint job. The only thing different about this is the name. It should have been titled Saints Row, because that's what it is. The open world activities are something that we've seen before, in practically every other open world game. I only played about an hour, but it's an hour of things that have been said and done.

Agents of Mayhem is set to release in August 2017.