OXCGN’s Anarchy Reigns Review
Anarchy to the max
by Chris Fox
©2013 Chris Fox
Indeed, anyone who has played their games would attest to their games being unlike anything else they’ve played before.
Their catalog began with the ultra violent monochrome Wii beat ‘em up Mad World and has also included cult fan favorite Bayonetta.
Think of Anarchy Reigns (or Max Anarchy in Japan) as a Platinum Games Smash Bros. of sorts; it’s a third person multiplayer brawler featuring a cast from multiple games.
The question is, does this game live up to the prestige of those that came before it?
But I would still recommend it to you.
It is definitely not as polished a product as the other titles in Platinum’s portfolio; it’s no Vanquish, but Anarchy Reigns stands for the same thing.
Anarchy Reigns presents itself as a truly unique game with its very own style and vision. That thing has become more important than ever before as certain AAA titles have become increasingly bland and stale.
This game is unashamed in its outrageously over the top fantasy violence aesthetic. It’s just a shame that technical issues prevent this game from being truly fantastic.
I still find it comical when certain beat ‘em ups have ludicrous stories attached to them unnecessarily. Even though they’re predominantly multiplayer fighting fare, some insist on having an overcomplicated and uninteresting narrative to tie all the characters together.
Anarchy Reigns is one of those beat ‘em ups.
The story really isn’t anything worth talking about, but I’ll do so for the purposes of adhering to game review convention.
Jack Cayman, the main character from Mad World, makes his return here and half of the game’s single player campaign focuses on his revenge story. The other circles around long-haired pretty boy Leo as he attempts to track down his missing mentor, Max.
This plot would work for a gritty television drama, but it couldn’t feel more out of place in this world of sexy, hyper violence.
The best defense is anarchy
The story is pushed further into the ridiculous by the cutscenes. One such cutscene sees the massive and out-of-proportion Jack by his daughter’s grave, but (since he so closely resembles a member of Marcus Fenix’s family) he still can’t seem to squeeze any emotion out of his muscular, furry face except comical anger.
The daughter of Max shows up at the grave in a vain attempt to make Jack feel better about her father killing his daughter. In this touching (see: not at all touching) scene, all I could focus on was how Jack seemed to be about fifteen feet tall next to this woman.
And he didn’t even bother to take off his chainsaw arm to visit his daughter’s grave. Lazy.
I’m honestly not complaining about the story in actual fact; it’s amusing a lot of the time, I just question why it’s there. I would’ve been happy with facing a series of opponents in various different matches and scenarios, old school style.
You can either select Jack or Leo first and play through their side of the story. Both will then convene for the final battle.
Main missions and free missions can be accessed through several hub worlds, each one containing various bad guys to brawl with for practice. The main missions further the “story” and the free missions can be repeated as many times as needed to level up.
While I appreciate the attempt to add variety to the game, the mechanics found in these missions feel unsurprisingly ropey and unfinished. It’s the thought that counts though, I suppose.
Ultimate weapon of anarchy
The super moves are huge, the violence is visceral, and the levels of carnage and chaos in each battle is off the charts. Enemies range from small, to big, to very big, and then there’s the main characters that serve as bosses in single player.
I absolutely adore Platinum Games’ style. I have loved the aesthetic of every one of their titles and it’s all come together incredibly well for Anarchy Reigns. It’s all so unmistakably Japanese and everything you will see in this game is why I love that country so much.
Apologies for sounding like an excited nine-year-old, but each character is so cool! Each is as unique and outrageous as the one that came before it.
There’s even a transformer complete with (not at all genuine) transforming noise! The special edition features DLC character ‘Bayonetta’ from Bayonetta. There’s such a wide variety of fighters here and really takes me back to old SNK titles like World Heroes.
This brings me to the multitude of ways in which to kill your opponents. Grabs, combos, and team attacks are very effective and very satisfying ways of dispatch.
Like Mad World, most of the surrounding environment can be uprooted and used as weapons. There are also traditional weapons, both offensive and defensive, that scatter the battlefield.
The real game changers, however, are Rampage Mode and each character’s killer weapon.
Holding the left trigger will draw your killer weapon, changing regular attacks to devastating death blows. After a period of attacking everything in view, the rampage meter will fill up. Upon engaging rampage mode, unstoppable combos can be unleashed on your unlucky opponents.
It’s kind of broken, but it’s also an insane amount of fun, so who cares?
The anarchic spotlight
It’s amazing how much the camera in a game can make or break the entire experience. You might have the best game in the world, but if I can’t see it, then I’ll never know. The camera in Anarchy Reigns is truly broken and has a hard time keeping up with the lightning fast action that’s happening both on and off screen.
The lock-on mechanic is finicky and when coupled with its cousin, the broken camera, focusing on specific enemies becomes incredibly hard when battles get frantic. Because of this, the game becomes a frustrating mess far too often.
It’s certainly enough to put off a lot of people, which is a great shame as this game could’ve found a much wider audience.
At its core, though, Anarchy Reigns is a fairly technical brawler with its own fair share of depth. While button bashing will yield some success, you will still be juggled in relentless air combos by online players who know what they’re doing.
The plural of ninja is anarchy
There are countless modes to choose from, including Death Ball which, again, is fun yet sloppy.
Like so many other fighters, I adore my one on one matches. They also take place in cage matches here, making them even more perfect. This is Anarchy Reigns in its purest form; one on one, no other players to get in your way, and Rampage Mode disabled. Brilliant.
Make no mistake: I love Anarchy Reigns.
Because I adore the genre, the company and the sheer brazenness of style on display, I would still recommend it despite its flaws.
However, those flaws cannot be ignored. They prevent the game from soaring to technical greatness and hurts the player every time they rear their ugly heads.
Whilst being far from perfect, Anarchy Reigns is outrageously enjoyable and truly unique. It’s like a beautiful girlfriend who has a tendency to walk into things; you still love her anyway.
©2013 Chris Fox
Filed under: Xbox 360