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Review: Anarchy Reigns

February 13, 2013

 

Platinum Games is quickly establishing itself as a master of batshit insanity. Taking Bayonetta as an example and not being content with the usual tropes common to Japanese games, they have to invent a witch that can summon demons with her clothes made out of her hair.

Anarchy Reigns is a sequel to the Wii game MadWorld, which also happened to be Platinum Game’s debut title. It seems that they only thing they share is a plot continuation, as the black, white and red art style is largely abandoned for a colour palette that’s a bit more mainstream.

Anarchy Reigns is a 3D brawler in the style of God Hand or Fist Of The North Star, and performs with some movesets not altogether uncommon for more traditional beat ‘em ups. You’ve got a throw, a light and heavy attack, a guard and a Killer Weapon, which is essentially a trigger that can be powered up for more brutal and overpowered light and heavy attacks. So far, so simple.

It almost sounds too simple, which does not do this game justice. Whilst the community for this game is (and probably will always be) quite small, I’ve had heaps of fun playing against various people in online matches and duking it out with zany, over-the-top characters. One man has a double chainsaw for an arm. Another guy is a huge, metal bull. One particularly scene-stealing character is the Blacker Baron, a blinged-up pimp with weapons called ‘Super Sexy Fists Of Fire’.

Yeah.

Think of it as Super Smash Bros, but more Japanese and in 3D.

There are a wealth of game modes to choose from, ranging from standard Deathmatches and Team Deathmatches to one-on-one Cage Matches. The game really has a chance to flourish and show off its creativity with 16-player Battle Royales, though. In this mode, the game takes advantage of its incredibly large maps to punctuate the combat with events. This could be an item drop. This could be a group of hulking giants that have spawned into the area. This could be a tornado that reduces players’ HP to one point. The transition is almost seamless, and must be seen to be believed. Playing in such a chaotic environment makes no two games the same. Battle Royale mode may as well be called Platinum Games mode, as it is that crazy.

That’s not to discredit the smaller matches, though. Cage matches are a great way of facing off against a rival, and they are a place where combo weaving and effective guarding really come to the fore.  Characters have different niches that can be used in different ways, employing a strategic element to the game. Some characters can throw their weight around a lot more than other characters, and the trick of winning a fight is knowing both when to flail your arms at the enemy and when not to.

The multiplayer community is small, but close-knit. Some of my best experiences with players has been listening to them chat about games in an intelligent manner in the game’s lobby, and everyone I have met has a sense of honour and fair play when fighting other people. There’s little backchat here. This is a game for gamers, instead of the early teenagers that dominate the multiplayer matches of bigger, wealthier titles.

The single-player element of the game is the method of unlocking more characters for multiplayer combat. This is rather lamentable, though, because the single-player campaign is as pointless as the games that Anarchy Reigns tries to emulate. It has a plot, but I gave up trying to understand it when I finished just over half the story’s content. This is coming from a person who could just about cope with Bayonetta’s plot. Anarchy Reigns’ storyline is confused, forced and hopelessly full of clichés.

The game’s big saving grace is its dedication to making multiplayer combat fun. I suppose it plays to the genre’s advantages by focusing on this, but the single-player experience was quite hollow (not counting practice multiplayer matches against bots, of course).

Luckily, the developers released the game at a price of £20. I would not have picked this game up at the standard retail price of £40. It is a great price for a very meaty, adrenaline-pumped multiplayer experience.

If you’re looking for something different to Halo 4 or Call of Duty, try checking this game out. It’s only twenty quid. Casual fighters and die-hard brawlers both have their place here.

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