I recently got to spend a little bit of time with Atsushi Inaba of Platinum Games. Though we were in Santa Monica, Calif. discussing the upcoming Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, he shared some insight into the Platinum Games philosophy. To summarize said philosophy — if it’s fun they throw it in. For the most part, their new game follows that theme. This latest release, Anarchy Reigns is a successor of sorts to the ultra-violent and highly stylized Wii game Mad World, with a number of characters carrying over from the previous game.
In a departure from typical Japanese fare, Anarchy Reigns offers very little in the way of a single player experience and instead opts for online multiplayer. Honestly, for the type of game that it is, that’s probably a smart decision though a local option would have been nice. Anarchy Reigns is nothing like Devil May Cry or Bayonetta, a type of game Platinum does very well. The game is really much closer to the Dynasty Warriors series in that it’s a run around and beat’em up type game. There are however some twists — they’ve injected a good dose of Power Stone and made the gameplay much more dynamic.
Luckily, Anarchy Reigns isn’t one of those games that doesn’t include a physical manual. The combat is deep enough that it’s likely you’ll be referring back to the manual as you learn the ins and outs. To be able to unlock anything for the multiplayer, the game forces you to play the campaigns. The campaigns are the two pretty mindless adventures of two characters; Jack from Mad World and a new character named Leo. The barely comprehensible plot mainly serves to introduce the characters you unlock throughout. Though beat’em up is the gameplay staple, there is some variety sprinkled throughout.
As with most third-person action games, in Anarchy Reigns, the left stick moves your character and the right stick rotates the camera. Your character can also jump; grab; and perform light, heavy, and 360 degree attacks with the face buttons. Players can also lock on, block, and evade. You can equip and use up to two items as well as taunt with the d-pad. Besides that, each character has a killer weapon that can be used with a heavy or light attack. The training mode will let you figure out the most effective combos for each character as you go up against bots. If you want time to learn your unlocked characters, it’s really your only option.
There are some really cool concepts in Anarchy Reigns. I admit that I’m not a huge fan of the mindless combat in Dynasty Warriors or countless number of similar games and Anarchy Reigns is better in part because of the dynamic environments that have random occurrences like an 18-wheeler barreling through the level and because of what you can do to the environment yourself. The combat system itself is deeper in this game and the mature rating means that everything is a little more violent. Something like a more violent Power Stone, it’s really too bad that the multiplayer is online only.
The majority of the fun in Anarchy Reigns are these online multiplayer modes. Most of them are takes on the standard first-person shooter game modes that you would find in a game like Halo. There are single player and team death matches and capture the flag modes. There are also a couple of more unusual ones and, surprisingly, they are all a lot of fun. There is something satisfying about just laying into your online opponent with melee attacks. The tide of battle can turn fairly quickly though and those random events like giant robots with death lasers can seriously hamper your tactics.
The single player campaigns in Anarchy Reigns are terribly tedious. There is no consistent narrative and the string of challenges offers little motivation to complete them. The only real reason to play them, as stated above, is to unlock more in the multiplayer modes and the lack of a split-screen mode is really disappointing. The presentation is also a mixed bag. The sound and soundtrack are pretty good, but the graphics, while not terrible look dated. All of that being said, if you can find some online friends to play with, you can have a ton of fun beating each other to a pulp. Luckily, the game is bargain priced and you can buy a copy for yourself and a friend for the price of one full-priced new game.
Anarchy Reigns is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language. This game can also be found on PS3.