Anarchy Reigns – Game Analysis and Review
By Patrick Newman
Developer: Platinum Games
Director: Masaki Yamanaka
Producer: Atsushi Inaba
Composer: Naoto Tanaka
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release Date: January 8, 2013
Modes: Single-player, online multiplayer
A back-to-basics brawler infused with a healthy dose of MacFarlane-esque comic book insanity – Bionic arms, giant squid, and robot-bull hybrids are all handled matter-of-factly – Anarchy Reigns isn’t nearly as memorable of an action experience as it should be. However, when viewed purely as a time-waster on the way to more story-driven, complex gaming experiences, it’s hard to beat Anarchy Reigns’ inelegant simplicity. Officially, the game is a sequel to the Wii-exclusive MadWorld, but don’t worry about catching up with the plot or doing a crash-course on the original’s gameplay before starting up this new fighter. Everything you need to stomp up this gleefully nonsensical world is available right out of the box.
Anarchy Reigns is a multiplayer shooter that hopes to contend with the market’s best (Halo 4, Far Cry 3, Black Ops II), and on the level of pure, unadulterated insanity, it’s clearly the best of the bunch. Melee combat in this one is the encouraged mode of life-taking, and it is typically best to spend some time with an individual character in Practice mode to learn the most effective way to chain weak and strong strikes together into effective combos. Similar to Arkham City, the game fluidly allows you to take on several characters at once, using the B button to grab and throw single or multiple combatants.
The left trigger unleashes your Killer Weapon, which of course has to be rationed out throughout the stages, and can deliver moderate to heavy damage depending on the facility of the opponents you find yourself up against. Throwing another curveball into the fighting mechanics is the Rampage gauge, which notches up the speed at which your mescaline dream of a character can punch and kick their way to glory. The sight of two Rampage-fueled opponents going at it can always be counted on to evoke some Rocky-like fist pumping from fellow gamers and onlookers, a fun factor that even games as exquisite and polished as Halo have a hard time getting out of their carnage-addicted customers.
“Punches” and “kicks,” to be clear, are rarely as sanitized or typical as they sound in the world of Anarchy Reigns, just as the scale of the fighting is like nothing you’ll ever experience in the world we live in (let’s hope). Jump kicks can span miles, individual strikes always seem to end in explosions, blinding flashes of electricity, or the crash of metal blades against each other and into soft flesh. The constant fighting is stretched out over multiple levels and sub-levels, with an inspired day/night real-time structure hanging over the proceedings that gives you a good way to track the passage of time through the madness, and also to gauge when the more challenging prey is gearing up for a fight (nighttime, as is the norm, belongs to the uber-monsters).
The maps are small, so unfortunately the potential for exploring the environments for extra power-ups or shortcuts is minimal. The frenzied combat is more or less at the center of everything, with a counter at the top of the screen (outside of missions) that lists your kill-count, so you can get those bonuses that allow your character to jump to a higher caste. Though a fun single-player narrative has been crafted with care by Platinum Games, this experience all really focused towards the multiplayer side of the equation.
A smooth interface makes it easy to jump online and locate matches that should be to your liking, but the game, which can host a maximum of 16 players, can tend to get uncompromisingly chaotic when a match is running full-tilt. Less seasoned players will really only have time to mash the buttons just to stay breathing, which for me was a difficult pitch to sustain over multiple hours of gameplay. The characters also lack customization options, which takes some of the blush off the rose. Though there’s a wide gallery of characters to choose from (with their own fighting style and signature moves), they all lack unlockable attacks and accessories/skins that would give you that prideful sense of individuality going into battle. The fact that each fighter controls essentially the same adds to this sense of sameness throughout the roster.
Platinum Games’ beat-em-up (and if there was ever a more appropriate connection between genre and title as Anarchy Reigns, I haven’t found it) is so over the top that it calls to mind a quote from the great Mel Brooks: “My movies rise below vulgarity.” The game is otherworldly and exciting from its opening moments onward, but of course this formula does lend itself to repetitiveness, and doesn’t exactly beg to be replayed or considered at anything deeper than surface level. It’s the sideshow, not the main circus, but I don’t think we’d want to can the sideshow anytime soon.
Post your comments directly below! You can also discuss the latest MMA & Video Game News in the PunchDrunkGamer Forums and don’t forget to Follow PDG on Twitter @PunchDrunkGamer and Like the PDG Official Facebook Page!