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Agents of Mayhem Review

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Graphics:

The graphics do look good, but, due in part to the art style, do not impress me, at least not when just looking at the environment. As I said, this in part comes down to the style of the art, which is not going to be visually impressive with its almost cartoon coloring, making large areas of characters and objects one color. That is unless you look closer and see there is a texture to the material that adds depth to it, especially when combined with the lighting and shadows. The streets would be a good example of what I mean, as from a distance, they look to be one color, but if you examine the screenshots closely, you will see they have more details, and it even looks like they are reflected on surfaces. The effects make the world pop and that is when they look best.

Continuing with talking about the environment, Seoul is basically three sections that have their own kind of look to them. The downtown section is where you will find the skyscrapers and all have a futuristic design to them, with lots of curves and broken geometry. It looks good and consistent, but also gives you ways to climb to the top, unless you can find a much faster and easier elevator. Most of the grass I remember seeing is in this section of the city, too, contained within parks, and it looked pretty good, too. Trees can also be found in the next section I am going to talk about, and they also look very good.

A second section is a more residential area where you find smaller houses, apartment buildings, and stores. These again share a similar style of being primarily made from brick. They look good, but they also look alike. The third section is easily the one I have spent the least amount of time in and this is where you find the warehouses. Some missions do take you there, but honestly, if not for those missions I would probably have forgotten this area existed.

 

 

 

 

 

To get around, you are going to need a vehicle, either the agency vehicle you can call in or one you take off a civilian. The enemy vehicles cannot be hijacked, which is a little disappointing as they have a neat style to them. They are covered in metal plates that resemble an exoskeleton. Your vehicles do still look good, they just look different and somewhat less intimidating, too. These vehicles also reflect the world around them, which is a nice effect to see. They are also like the environment in that they may seem to lack detail at first, but once you see the effects on them, they pop. Also, it appears the agency vehicles have shields because when you damage them a hexagonal pattern appears on them. At least I cannot think of a better explanation for that pattern.

The agents you play as are a bit different in that they do tend to have more immediately-noticeable detail to them than the world, but again it is the effects on top that can really make them pop. For example, if you look at Yeti, who is a hulk of a character (and can be given green skin and purple paints) his skin is mostly a gray blue with some white for where ice has formed. When in the right lighting, you can see how sculpted his muscles are, and his skin is also gloss, making for an appropriate and interesting appearance.

Stepping back from the characters, cars, and environment, the lighting and shadows really do look good in Agents of Mayhem. Honestly, they do help the world look as good as it does. You have a selection of options to choose from for them, as well, if your rig is not up to them.

Something else that looks very nice in the game, and also performed very well, were the explosions. With 'mayhem' in the name, you should expect there will be explosions, and there definitely were a lot of them. Sometimes there were a lot of explosions on the screen at the same time and it surprised me that I barely recognized any performance loss. I will admit I was not watching the frame rate counter at the time, but my experience was not noticeably impacted as a lot of things went boom. Sometimes it was a car exploding, but other times a group (or several) of red barrels all going up, and they all looked quite good to me. The immediate transition to a damaged state for exploding vehicles is never fun to see, but that is how it goes in many games, so I cannot take fault with this game for that.

 

 

Really what it comes down to for looks is that the art style might be a little flat, but with the effects, especially the lighting effects, you get a wonderful amount of depth to it all and it really makes it pleasing to the eye.

Next up is performance, so here are my specs:

  • Processor: AMD A10-5800K @ 4.40 GHz (44.0x100)
  • Cooling: Corsair H110
  • Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M PRO
  • GPU: NVIDIA GTX 1080 8 GB
  • PhysX: NVIDIA GTX 1070 8 GB
  • Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 4x8 GB (32 GB total) at 1866 MHz 10-10-10-27
  • PSU: OCZ Fata1ty 750 W
  • OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit

As I tend to do when I first start playing a game, I set Agents of Mayhem to its highest graphical settings, with depth of field, motion blur, and camera shake turned off, as is my preference. At these settings, the game was able to achieve a respectable framerate, but there was also an annoying, random stutter. I was not sure what the source of this was, but I did eventually find it. It seems (and I have encountered this before with a different game) that my CPU is unable to handle both a game and what processing it needs to do for the Tobii Tracker 4C. While this particular tracker does have an ASIC for processing what it sees, the CPU still has some work to do and it looks like mine is just not quite up to the task. With a better CPU, likely just one with more threads, and your own Tobii eye tracker, I doubt this stutter would happen. I did still play for some ten hours or more with it on. It was only after I launched the game, forgetting to turn the Tracker 4C on and played some that I realized what the source of the problem was. (When this was happening with a different game, the stuttering was much more constant, so the tracker was not my first guess this time.) It was not just having the Tobii tracker options enabled in game, but the tracker itself turned on that the stutter was dependent on.

While the heavy stutter was not too constant, a look at the frame time data shows there was much more micro-stutter when I had the tracker turned on than not. With only one exception, the standard deviation for the frame time with the tracker was over 20 ms, so longer than the length of a 60 Hz frame. Without the tracker, the data I have all have a standard deviation of less than 12 ms (one at 11.8 ms, one at 9.0 ms, and two around 7 ms). So yeah, if all you have is four threads on your CPU, you may not want to use an eye tracker, assuming you have one.

You probably want some direct performance data, so here are some: of the four five-minute recordings I have without the Tobii tracker turned on, three of them had an average frame rate over 79 FPS. The fourth recording had an average of 42 FPS, and I am not sure why it is so different, partly because I do not remember exactly where I was in the game when I made each of these recordings. (I just hit the button to start recording when I think the next five minutes will be an appropriate sample, which was not always the case here as cutscenes would shoot the frame rate up to 200+ FPS.) For that last run, the game was running below 60 FPS 84.37% of the time, while the others came in at 2%, 11%, and 35% off. For that 35% run, there was a cutscene undoubtedly skewing that value in favor of more time above 60 FPS.

 

 

While I have this data, I am hesitant to go into much more detail with it because I am not sure which run or runs might be the most representative of the gameplay experience, especially since the performance is likely to improve with updates and optimizations. If we throw out that last run, the other three somewhat match up to indicate that even at these highest settings, the game does perform quite well, but that is not the strongest of reasons to discard it. Of course, your experience may vary, but going by my own experience more than the numbers, that is what I feel, too, for the majority of the game. Driving around Seoul consistently had lower performance than the rest of the game, but this did not pose a control issue for me, so I am not giving it much thought now.

In any case, here are the course and QQ graphs I have for the frame time data (without the Tobii tracker). I have more than just these graphs that I can share if you want them.

 

 

 

 

 

Basically, the game looks good and performs well, but if you want to use an eye tracker, it looks like you want to make sure your CPU is up for it and the game. I would not be surprised if a better CPU would also improve the performance while driving around, too, but as I said, it was not that bad.




  1. Agents of Mayhem Review - Introduction
  2. Agents of Mayhem Review - Graphics
  3. Agents of Mayhem Review - Story
  4. Agents of Mayhem Review - Gameplay
  5. Agents of Mayhem Review - Additional Gameplay Images
  6. Agents of Mayhem Review - Conclusion
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