Total Mayhem is a third-person, three-quarter perspective shooting game, allowing you to control up to six armed mercenaries as they tackle twenty separate missions, each involving several different subdirectives. Being responsible for all six simultaneously lends the game a truly tactical feel: initially, you can travel around in a pack, blasting away, as they say, "with extreme prejudice", but as the missions and enemies get tougher, you need to decide how to utilize your mercenaries independently, sending in scouts, using decoys, and posting sentries. When a man responds to your command with a crisp "Yes, Sir!", you feel as if you're running an important operation, where any slip-up means certain death.
While finite, each unique world still offers plenty of room to roam around, and the crisp graphics enable you to easily keep track of the action and your location, whether outdoors or indoors. Some of the smaller powerup items are virtually impossible to see, but they are strategically placed so that you will run across them, anyway. In general, the colors are bright, the action is clear and the explosions and gunfire are big and loud - it's a beautiful day for a shootout.
Total Mayhem couldn't be better suited for multi-player gaming. It doesn't disappoint, either, offering two multi-player options; the Deathmatch, where players, limited by time or number of kills, run around blasting anyone and anything at will, and a Capture the Flag game, where players team up to...well, you know.
It was the year 2140, and the human race had become enslaved by its own mechanical creations. The "Mechs" that were developed to be sent off to fight distant wars and provide local security became too advanced, too intelligent; so much so, that they enslaved their creators. Sixteen years later, the humans have begun to fight back, using cyborgs created out of the same technology that cost mankind its freedom years before. You are the leader of a small band of human cyborgs, ready to do whatever it takes to recapture your home world.
If graphics, sound and story were the only important parts of a game, then this one would have scored a lot higher. However, since the design of controls can really make or break an action game, Mayhem's score went downhill fast. I have never played a game that frustrated me to this point before. Here's an example: A group of five fighters are given a command to go out a nearby door. They begin in a group, but three seconds later three of them have gone through the door, while two others have traveled into the room's corner -- standing there like the naughty boys they are. A couple more such fiascos, and my group is dead. If I am blown away and my mission fails because I screwed up, I can deal with that. But if I am blown away and my mission fails because my "men" didn't do what I told them to. that's a different story -- and not one with a happy ending.
Total Mayhem has an interesting overhead view that is advantageous in some ways, but a severe hindrance in others. It takes some getting used to, especially when one of your guys goes behind a building and you can no longer see what is happening to him. You see, you must select one man at a time to be the leader of your group. You can click on various guys to change leaders, but any non-leaders that decide to wander off (and they will) run the danger of disappearing on you, because of the graphic setup. The characters are brightly colored, but still they seem to blend into the background at times and are hard to see. Having to constantly search for your guys by clicking all over the screen can not only mess up your game, it can give you a headache as well.
The best part about the graphics is the explosion rendering -- it is rather gratifying when you finally blast apart that pesky robot that's guarding the door you must go through. The video clips are also well done, especially the opening one, which instantly makes your adrenaline rush and makes you want to get those cyborgs. The Mayhem base is well constructed, with "quarters" for saving games, a robotic repair facility to heal your men with, an armory where you can get all kinds of gadgets and gizmos, and of course a mission-briefing room. Those of you who have played Crusader: No Remorse will surely be disappointed -- here, your mission is flashed on the screen and read to you while a map pinpoints the areas of interest.
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