Anarchy Reigns is all about the rampant, unashamed brawling. It’s simple, shallow yet manages to be fun. If I was to recommend it, it would be for its ample online offerings. The singleplayer is a hopelessly vague offering that falls short in almost every department.
Developer: Platinum Games
Distributor: Ster Kinekor
For fans of: Online brawlers
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also available on: Playstation 3
If we had to give it a numerical score: 7/10
What I liked
- Fluid control mechanics
- Combat makes you feel like a little boy at an arcade… grinning
- Well designed online modes
Not so much
- Boring as heck offline
- Difficult to get into lobbies
- Not pretty
- Mindless fun
- Some bizarre voice-over dialogue
Gameplay and Features
The moment you are introduced to the characters, you are very much aware that this is without a doubt a Japanese developed game. There’s the mammoth of man character that looks like someone out of Gears of War, but on steroids. There’s the perfect looking male and insanely proportioned female with the upper and lower body of a swimwear-model and the waist of a high-school girl. I actually love this about the Japanese developed games – when the Western world is constantly pushing on realism, with Japanese games you are always astutely aware that you are in fact, playing a ‘videogame.’ This reminds me of the escapism that I grew up with and loved about, then, mostly Japanese games.
Anarchy Reigns is very much an online experience. The singleplayer campaign is there almost as if just to introduce the characters, teach you the gameplay mechanics and practice. My first fifteen minutes of the campaign was an absolute bliss. I was introduced to the masterful gameplay mechanics that I have come to love from Platinum. The fighting-mechanics are fluid, intuitive and the brawling is as indulgent as you wish. But then the campaign goes nowhere really, rinsing and repeating the brawling and enemies, offering a very one-dimensional experience.
The singleplayer campaign is about as shallow as has been seen in the genre. You can choose to play as part of one of two factions, and don’t ask me what the story was really all about, because it did not even remotely grab me. You need to clear a certain amount of bots and then a boss in a certain amount of time in certain designated areas… again and again. Playing with as part of the either of the factions offers around ten hours of mindless bashing. There are some varying missions, but everything felt a little silly and the only aspect that I could possibly have found somewhat engaging is the fact that you can compete on leader-boards, provided you are connected to the online community. Even the progression system feels shallow, not really doing much to keep you wanting on the singleplayer front. I found this part particularly heartbreaking when thinking that this studio brought us Bayonetta, a game with one of the most wonderfully designed and rewarding progression systems.
The multiplayer front is definitely where this one shines, and I probably would’ve been a little more complimentary if I got into more lobbies. The various modes designs’ are fresh and interesting. There are 11 multiplayer modes offering traditional battles to team battles and everything in between. Platinum included a sort of ‘horde mode’ which is generally common with shooters. The online code is a little rough around the edges, but generally pretty solid otherwise. There were few forgettable modes, and some that I just could not get into a lobby to try. But when I did, it was generally a blast.
Anarchy Reigns’ fighting system sells the game as much as it hinders it. All the characters’ attacks or moves are mapped out in the same manner with the controls. This is great on the one hand, because it works, the mechanics are fluid and combos flow thanks to the simple mechanics. But where with most fighting games, the characters usually have somewhat unique skill-sets or moves that require different button inputs, with this one it very much feels like if you played with one character you’ve played with them all. The fact that there moves are all mapped out the same, makes for a very streamlined experience, playing with the different characters. Most brawling games also have basic moves and then the deeper ones for those willing to delve deeper. Anarchy Reigns does not. Once you’ve completed the ten minute tutorial, you know all there is to know.
Sound and Visuals
To my surprise, again after playing the studios’ benchmarks, were the absolutely dull visuals. The graphics are basic, the level design is uninspiring and the colour-palette was even way to drab. The visuals almost looked a little incomplete – could have used more texturing and detailing.
The soundtrack was okay, Rap or R’nB or whatever, forgettable if anything. Then the voice-acting was a little strange. It was typical Japanese, and in some cut-scenes it looked as though voice-overs were used, which made it look like an Asian film with English voiceovers. If this was done on purpose, then great, but if not, then it’s just bad production. Unfortunately I could not figure out if it was on purpose or not because sometimes it looked like it was in sync and other times not.
Overall the game did nothing for me on the aesthetics department. This is hardly ever a game-breaker for me, and to be fair, the quality was not quite in the game-breaking leagues. It was just a little on the mediocre side and completely unflattering.
Anarchy Reigns offers unvarying brawling fun, but the problem I have with it, is that it is exactly that – unvarying. The singleplayer offering was great for around fifteen minutes and while the online mode is not all silky smooth, the design is very ambitious, there are plenty of enjoyable modes and the strong mechanics offer engaging combat.
The overall issue I could not get away from with this one is that I expect so much more from Platinum Games. The control mechanics are expectedly fantastic, but after Bayonetta and Vanquish, I was surprised at how unpolished Anarchy Reigns feels. It unfortunately feels like a bemused side-project that it probably was for the studio.
Read about our ratings here.