Reviewer’s Note: I played this game on PC. There may be differences between versions.
I’m sure many people have memories of light gun games at the arcade. Major Mayhem, despite the third person perspective, seeks to bring a similar feeling back home. While it may not have the light gun to back it up, this on-rails shooter does enough to be worth a look or two.
There’s really not much plot in Major Mayhem to speak up. The President of the United States tells Major Mayhem that ninjas have kidnapped his girlfriend and are trying to trade her for a tank called the Death Machine. Russians and the Middle East are involved too for some reason. The fewer questions you ask, the better off you’ll be: it’s honestly just an excuse to shoot people. It’s fine for that purpose.
Major Mayhem looks decent enough with some simple 3d graphics and nice vibrant colors making the game pop. The three environments (The jungle, the city, and the desert) have enough locations that it doesn’t all look the same, but there are times of déjà vu here or there. I actually thought the explosions looked surprisingly decent for the game. A few things did bother me about the presentation though. For starters, the fact that this was a mobile game is painfully obvious as things like the pause button are on screen at all times. I was also bugged by the late game levels where the enemies showed up in white next to the scientists I had to save, whom were also in white. This led to way more cases of friendly fire than I’m happy to admit.
The game is simple enough to play: Major Mayhem will take cover behind an object and all I had to do was move the cursor over the enemies and click to shoot. As long as I wasn’t shooting the major would remain behind cover and impervious to attacks. Enemies work much like the ever so famous Time Crisis: most attacks won’t ever connect with me and were just for show and it’s only the red bullets/thrown objects that I had to watch out for. I could actually shoot the attack out of the air if I trusted my aim enough, but it was honestly easier to stay behind cover than risk it. There were times I felt like the swarm of “just for effect” bullets were so large that it was difficult to find the ones that would actually harm me though.
After clearing out a zone the Major runs to the next fire fight, but he’s not safe there either. At first I had to jump over pits or up walls, which served as a good enough break in the regular fighting. Later I’d also have to shoot at enemies and jump over their attacks as well. It’s a good change-up on the usual on-rails formula, and it’s a lot of fun trying to manage both shooting and simple platforming at the same time. I also had to make sure I wasn’t shooting civilians, and saving them could heal me, get me extra coins to buy new guns and power-ups, or give me a power-up on the spot. An air strike was basically useless as it just cleared whatever was on the screen at the time, which is usually nothing of note. On the other hand, the invincibility “robo-cop” styled power-up was easily by far the most useful of the bunch.
At all times I had three challenges active, and completing a challenge got me some XP. Leveling up allowed me to purchase more things in the store, though there was also an odd system that saw me getting a random item from the store at every level up. This means there was a chance I could have the best weapon in the game by level 2. The game’s campaign is broken into three “zones” which are then broken into 15 missions that are about 2 – 3 minutes each. Unlike most on-rail shooters, there’s a disappointing lack of boss fights with the only real boss being the game’s last boss. There’s also not much in the way of set pieces and despite the different level themes, everything just sorta blended together after a while. After finishing the campaign there was three other modes: an endless survival, a minute long time attack, and a mode that would just play the levels in random order until I lost.
Despite a few setbacks and odd choices, I did ultimately enjoy Major Mayhem. It reminded me of on-rails shooters from the past in all the right ways. I would have liked to see a little more done, so hopefully any follow up to the game will expand upon these ideas.