The power of next-gen consoles can, in some cases, help improve games that suffered from performance problems. A great example of this is Agents of Mayhem, a good last-gen open-world shooter made even better thanks to the Xbox Series X and its backward compatibility features.
Agents of Mayhem was released back in 2017 and developed by Volition, the folks behind the popular Saint’s Row franchise. Agents of Mayhem is a strange spin-off/sequel/reboot to that series based on a “universal reset” featured in one of the endings of Gat Out Of Hell. (That’s a strange sentence to read.) Because of this, Agents of Mayhem includes some Saint’s Row characters, groups, and other elements like cars and symbols reimagined in a new world. For example, Johnny Gat is in Agents of Mayhem, but is now a cop. Pierce is now the leader of the Vice Kings in Stillwater and the supergang from Saint’s Row The Third, the Morningstar, is now reimagined as an evil organisation on par with G.I. Joe’s C.O.B.R.A.
At release, Agents of Mayhem didn’t set the world on fire, earning lukewarm to negative reviews. Thankfully Kotaku’s own Michael Fahey gave it a fairly positive review, which I agree with. Agents of Mayhem is a fun blast of colourful, over-the-top action that feels like Overwatch, Saint’s Row, and G.I. Joe got tossed in a blender.
One thing I didn’t love about Agents of Mayhem was how it ran. I played it on PS4 Pro back when it released and it was a mess, with an inconsistent and unlocked framerate being the main frustration. During big fights, or at certain spots on the map, the performance would tank to the point it became hard to aim or move around.
But now that next-gen is here, we can play Agents of Mayhem on new, more powerful consoles. After noticing the game was on sale last week, I bought and installed it on Xbox Series X to see if the new hardware played it any better. The short answer: Yes!
That unlocked framerate, once a point of contention, turns into an asset on this new, more powerful machine. Suddenly, a game that struggled to keep things running at 30, let alone 60, is now running much more smoothly. It’s not perfect. I still encountered framerate drops, but they happened much less frequently than on the old console, and weren’t nearly as bad. The end result is a game that feels better to play and looks a lot nicer, too. In retrospect I wish more older games had shipped with unlocked framerate options, because it’s really giving a boost to a bunch of older games on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S.
Another great example of this phenomenon is Grand Theft Auto IV, which ran at an unlocked framerate on Xbox 360. I booted that game up on Xbox Series X recently and it’s running at a buttery-smooth 60. It’s wonderful.
Back to Agents of Mayhem. I wasn’t expecting to be hooked so quickly by the game, which I played back when it came out. And yet, with the improvements to HDR and the framerate on the new Xbox, I caught myself staying up late to play it once again. The combat, which was always the best part of Agents of Mayhem, feels more solid and enjoyable with the more consistent performance. And the characters are still great. Daisy, Kingpin, and Braddock remain my favourites today, but I find all of them fun to play as and level up.
I don’t think playing Agents of Mayhem on next-gen consoles will make people who didn’t like the game in 2017 enjoy it today. But if you have a fancy new console and you fancied the game, I’d reinstall Agents of Mayhem on your next-gen box of choice and go kill some LEGION fools.
Volition, the studio behind Agents of Mayhem, laid off over 30 people this week including general manager Dan Cermak, three sources tell Kotaku. The studio previously had around 200 employees.Read more
Volition’s Saints Row spin-off didn’t make much of a splash as a video game when it was released last fall, but there’s still hope for Agents of Mayhem‘s raunchy team of G.I. Joe rejects, courtesy of a company known for creating serious historical board games.Read more