By ratcheting up the over-the-top components with every entry within the Saints Row franchise, Volition wrote themselves right into a little bit of a nook. What began as a GTA clone with a goofy humorousness was a ridiculous affair with characters that would fly throughout the map and entry superpowers. As soon as characters have been taking pictures fireballs from their palms and flying round Hell with demon wings, there wasn’t quite a lot of room left to maintain cranking up the loopy.
Brokers of Mayhem isn’t formally a Saints Row recreation, however the DNA of that franchise is obvious to see all through. My hope was that by introducing this as a brand new collection, it’d give Volition an opportunity to dial issues again a bit. Saints Row: The Third was my favourite of the bunch, hitting the candy spot of silliness with out taking issues too far. Sadly, Brokers of Mayhem misses the mark in lots of key areas and finally disappoints.
Whereas Saints centered on a road gang, Brokers is extra of a send-up of comedian heroes and Saturday morning cartoons. Twelve heroes are unlockable, together with a useless actor, a drunken curler derby lady, a soccer hooligan, and a Yakuza murderer. The solid of characters could also be numerous with regards to their ethnicity and talents, however they’re one-dimensional in each different regard. Contemplating you may have entry to a dozen playable characters, I don’t envy the author that needed to provide you with distinctive dialogue for each one among them in each scenario.
Like a lot of the sport, there’s undoubtedly a “amount over high quality” really feel to the myriad jokes. Saints Row wasn’t a comedic masterpiece, however it had some intelligent writing and a constant tone. Brokers of Mayhem is consistently straining to be humorous and developing brief. A lot of its materials appears hinged on the idea of “this is sort of a child’s cartoon, however they curse on a regular basis!” It’s a lazy, boring method that isn’t humorous at first and positively doesn’t get higher as they lean on the cursing for the remainder of the sport. Jokes that purpose larger than easy F-bombs and dick jokes by no means get far more subtle than zingers about how the planet Uranus appears like a butthole.
The tone of the sport’s humor instantly turned me off, however I hoped to seek out solace within the seemingly strong improve system for every character. A loopy quantity of tinkering is feasible, with completely different techniques in place for talent factors, altering particular skills, constructing “Legion Tech” modifiers, accumulating three core upgrades for every character, and extra. On high of the person upgrades, you additionally stage up the Company typically, which unlocks passive enhancements irrespective of which agent you’re utilizing.
With a lot selection within the characters and the extent of customization, I used to be optimistic that these components would assist me benefit from the recreation regardless of the lame humor. It didn’t take lengthy to appreciate that a lot of the upgrades really feel insignificant. Most are modifications to standing results or a slight statistical change. I really like the thought of creating my squad of heroes progressively extra highly effective, however upgrades that give me a 2% enhance to a capability by no means actually really feel satisfying. Some extra important upgrades that have an effect on mobility or pace can be good, as none of them make the act of operating across the recreation really feel any completely different.
Exploring a futuristic model of Seoul is as unrewarding because the character development. For an open-world recreation, Brokers of Mayhem suffers from a dearth of issues to do. There are boilerplate aspect aims like discovering crystal shards, taking part in checkpoint-to-checkpoint races, accumulating marked automobiles, and destroying enemy tech, however these by no means really feel good or notably useful. Seoul itself is weirdly lifeless, with bland environments and empty streets. The pedestrians don’t even appear to have any VO.
It doesn’t take lengthy in any respect for the sport to show its lack of mission selection. So most of the principal story missions boil right down to operating to a pc, doing a hacking mini-game, after which clearing out some enemies earlier than doing it another time. Confusingly, many of those missions start by forcing the participant to climb to the highest of a constructing or going to a marked location for no discernible cause. Enjoying by the story is a mind-numbing strategy of following goal markers, hacking terminals, and taking pictures hordes of enemies. One other recurring mission construction entails going underground to combat by Legion lairs which might be nearly indistinguishable from one another. A handful of boss fights often break up the monotony, however it’s not sufficient to make up for the remainder of the slog by the story.
Brokers of Mayhem is boring, however it’s additionally janky as hell. Music from automobiles will typically proceed to play over animated cutscenes. Within the improve menu, the UI will regularly show “NEW” over characters that don’t have any new upgrades obtainable. Draw distance is tough, even on a PS4 Professional. Missions will break when enemies get caught in inaccessible areas. Load screens can cling and power a restart. I obtained the identical “hey, you possibly can construct this improve that you simply don’t really need” notification a minimum of 60 occasions. One in every of my characters died, however began sliding throughout the bottom through the dying animation. I wasn’t capable of swap characters and even pause, and needed to restart the sport. Characters will make jokes that don’t have anything to do with the scenario at hand, then repeat them advert nauseum like a malfunctioning quip robotic.
Brokers of Mayhem isn’t an excellent recreation, however there have been temporary occasions that I skilled emotions that resembled enjoyment. The twelve characters do all really feel completely different, from their skills to their weapons. I preferred mixing and matching my energetic squad and figuring out which brokers I preferred and which didn’t match my playstyle. As I progressed, I turned more and more irritated by an unrewarding improve system, a dull metropolis, technical points, and an unrelenting procession of boring mission aims. It doesn’t assist that it didn’t make me snigger as soon as regardless of attempting desperately to take action each 5 seconds.
I appeared ahead to seeing what Volition would do with a brand new open-world franchise. They turned Saints Row into one thing far more distinctive than the franchise’s GTA-inspired roots, and a brand new tackle that universe might have been a fantastic transfer for the developer. Sadly, any pleasure, character, humor, or attention-grabbing gameplay has been stripped from that collection and left us with a completely disappointing mistake.