Review: Anarchy Reigns

Platinum Games’ past titles have been able to offer that good ol’ fashion Japanese crazy with enough well implemented mechanics and refined controls to make the whole thing worthwhile. Unfortunately, in Anarchy Reigns‘ case, Platinums’ great ideas reach further than they can grasp. In the end; Anarchy Reigns is a great idea that could be something big, but it never reaches its full potential.

Developer: Platinum Games
Publisher: Sega
Reviewed on: PlayStation 3
Also Available On: Xbox 360
Release Date: Available Now


BRB-Score-2

For $30 you already sort of  know what to expect from a multiplayer focused brawler from Platinum Games. There is going to be that certain level of craziness Platinum always brings, and there is going to be some wild combat — and in Anarchy Reigns’ case it does offer the crazy and the combat you would expect. Unfortunately, even the most die-hard Platinum fans will find little to enjoy from Anarchy Reigns.

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The campaign in Anarchy Reigns‘ is relativity short. If you don’t stick around to see all of the side content you can finish the story in about five hours. I mention the length of the campaign primarily because it was around the three hour mark when I had just about enough of the “story”. The story has all the elements of say… a nonsensical anime show, except it’s far more boring. The story is clearly not the main focus of the game but the sad part is that the campaign was the most fun I had playing Anarchy Reigns’, and it isn’t very good. There are some characters in the game that occasionally have something funny or interesting to say. But most of the time it’s just humanized forms of a cultural stereotype, spitting out bad one liners as if the voice actors were handed pages of poetry written by Sylvester Stallone instead of actual lines of dialog.

The campaign is mission based with each level serving as a hub world. With each hub world being one of the multiplayer levels. There is a set number of missions available in each level. With a certain number being specifically story based while the rest are side missions. Usually the side missions consist of arena type combat, achieve X number of kills to win, survive X amount of time, there is some variety but it’s not enough. One side mission arms you with a sniper rifle with unlimited ammo and you are supposed to kill as many giant mutants as you can in a certain time; that was kind of fun. The main problem with the way the missions are structured is that you need to earn points to unlock the missions. You earn points by defeating enemies in the hub world and by completing the missions, with the number of points earned depending on your performance. The side missions can be replayed to earn more points in case you don’t have enough for the next unlock, but the game is designed in a way that you will most likely have to play a couple of the side missions in order to gain access to the story missions in that level. It’s also worth noting that there are two parallel campaigns in the game involving different characters that are both seeking the same thing, though neither of them were much fun to play. Especially when I had to do the same boss battle twice.

The combat in this game feels like a poor man’s Bayonetta; this is where things start to really fall apart. You have a light attack, heavy attack, grab/throw, block, and evade. You also have your character specific weapon called the “killer weapon” which you can use as either a light or heavy attack. It does more damage but it uses a special meter you fill by doing normal attacks and it can be slower to attack with. By timing your presses and changing up the buttons hit you can chain together different combos. Like almost any other character action game, the combat system is fairly generic. The animations for all the attacks look good and are suitable crazy, but the combat gets old relativity quickly. Mashing away at the fodder enemies thrown at you early in the campaign is never much fun. Once the game ramps up in difficulty, the harder enemies you face are just frustrating and tedious to fight. The only real bit of fun in the campaign is when you fight the other playable character for story reasons.

Anarchy-Reigns (1)

It’s the combination of the game’s combat mechanics and the factor of the players online that left me the most frustrated. When an opponent starts beating you it can be easy to get trapped and feel forced to just witness your inevitable death and leave you feeling like you had little control over it. This can happen in both the single player and multiplayer. Though the AI in the single player campaign on normal is much less relentless than the the AI in the multiplayer, as well as the real players. Fighting with the combat mechanics while also trying to fight the players online lead to nothing but frustration. Due to the potential player count of sixteen, and connection/lag issue, as well as the other poorly implemented random factors thrown in to shake the battles up, you are better off ignoring the online portion all together due to the little fun to be had. The camera and lock-on targeting system  are also more harmful than helpful. More often than not I would be targeting one enemy and attacking another, while the camera is stuck on another part of the level. You combine that with the frustrating controls and mechanics, and you can just go ahead get that controller throwing arm ready now.

There are a handful of characters and a surprising number of modes in the multiplayer. Though the maps are taken straight from campaign so you’ll most likely be sick of them anyways. Anarchy Reigns could pass as a multiplayer only free to play game, but for $30 what you are getting is just not good enough. This game gets one barrel out of five just for being functional. You can play Anarchy Reigns, it just isn’t a lot of fun. This game also get’s another barrel out of five because Platinum has some good ideas here – they just need to work on them a lot more.

Pretty decent soundtrack
An interesting idea that could be refined
The lag and other issues in multiplayer makes the online play a frustrating experience
Rough combat mechanics can leave you feeling out of control of the combat
Even for $30 dollars the quality and quantity of content provided is not good enough

I would like to see Platinum take another stab at this sort of multiplayer idea. Though Anarchy Reigns left such a bad taste in my mouth that I think I’d rather see this idea return in the form of a different game and not a direct sequel. While the characters can sometimes be funny in their nonsensical and cultural stereotypical ways, you don’t need a returning cast to make this idea work.

The review copy of this title was purchased by the author.
Official Game Site

 

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Comments

  1. RidcullysHat

    I actually enjoy the online portion more than the campaign as the campaign, for me, is just a way to unlock characters. It does feel like it could be so much more but I like the fact it’s a different online game to the identikit shooters that are around. A 16 player battle can be alot of fun but it is more luck than skill when you win. The other modes (team slayer et al) are much easier to play in but less chaotic and do mean it can be down to skill as opposed to luck when you win. The camera however is complete arse when you’re in a fight and as you say, you can be locked onto one person and smashing another while someone you can’t see is battering you. I think its more a Marmite game where you either like it or don’t. If you can handle the bugs and pants camera you can get some enjoyment from it. I think its a nice diversion from cod or halo et al as it’s totally different to anything else out there and if they can sort out the issues for another stab at it, it could be a properly good alternative multiplayer fighter.

    • I think the ideas are great and it is certainly a refreshing take on the online multiplayer we are used to seeing. I would like to see another attempt. The idea of a 3D and more crazy version of Super Smash Bros is fantastic. This could also be something other fighting game franchises take and run with. Imagine Mortal Kombat (or any other fighting game franchise) with this sort of multiplayer and gameplay done right? Hot damn!

  2. Vincent

    You are very welcome for the review.

    Of course you can call me Vince. No problem at all. I understand saying/typing Vincent can be a little awkward. People seem to only call me Vincent when I get in trouble or something. Regardless, I’m totally fine with being called Vince.

    From what I have seen of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance seems pretty good. Nothing to worry about, unless of course it’s the Metal Gear game you never wanted

  3. RidcullysHat

    If they refine the idea then it could be one of the best online games around. I’ve only just started bayonetta myself so am a late comer to platinum games but they can do Japanese insanity very well. They have attempted to do it online, which is brave but only just fall short of greatness. If someone did it with another franchise (mortal kombat) it could be epic and wrong. Imagine a fatality in the middle of a 16 player battle. Hopefully platinum do get another stab at it and take more time as to me, although I am enjoying it personally, it does feel rushed and unrefined. Insanely enjoyable but totally chaotic at the wrong time

    • I’m really looking forward to checking out more of Metal Gear Rising. I need to go check out the demo.

  4. RidcullysHat

    I may have to get vanquish as I only got bayonetta off the back of anarchy reigns. Platinum do Japanese madness brilliantly. If metal gear rising is half as good I’ll be a happy little gamer.

  5. RidcullysHat

    I can’t believe it took me until now to get it. Money and saving for my now 17month old took over and I missed out on a few games but for less than anarchy reigns I am now enjoying an absolute classic of Japanese insanity. I will get vanquish and although I was sceptical of metal gear rising, knowing platinum are doing it makes me wonder what they are going to do with it. I have seen the trailer and know that its going to be mental, whatever happens. Although I may have to wait for it. I only got anarchy reigns as it was a budget release and the mixed reviews all saying its good but very flawed, although different swayed me. I like different, that’s why I also have deadly premonition. That game is genius, so much is wrong with it but it makes it right. Although it did put a friend of mine in hospital. That however is a long tale for another day.

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