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Anarchy Reigns Review

by on January 24, 2013
 

Anarchy-Reigns-ReviewGame: Anarchy Reigns

Developer: Platinum Games

Publisher: SEGA

Available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Reviewed on: PlayStation 3

When people hear that Platinum Games are putting out a new title, they usually sit up and take note. When Bayonetta was first launched very few people had heard of the company, but many had heard of Hideki Kamiya and the games that he had helped put together (namely Resident Evil and Devil May Cry). Since Bayonetta was such a huge cult favourite, however, the fledgling developer is practically a household name and almost anything they touch turns to gold. We’re currently waiting for the much-anticipated Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance from Platinum Games, as well as The Wonderful 101 for the Wii U, but Anarchy Reigns is a title that should have been released almost a year ago but for one reason or another wasn’t. Has it been given the Midas touch that most other Platinum Games title are afforded, or was it delayed for good reason?

STORY: The story in Anarchy Reigns is barely there at all. As Jack Cayman – the protagonist of Platinum Games’ Wii-exclusive brawler MadWorld, and the character that most people will choose to play the game as first time – the single player campaign has the player travelling from district to district searching for the man who accidentally killed your daughter, Maximilian “Max” Caxton. As Leonhardt Victorion – the “White Side” of the campaign mode to Jack’s “Black Side” – players will get to chase down Max for the same crime but for totally different reasons -Leonhardt wants answers for what Max did and he’s determined to get them no matter what he loses in the process.

Anarchy Reigns is a game that’s based all around its brawling aspect and its multiplayer, and as such the single player portion of the game feels more like an outstretched tutorial and a method to unlock characters and abilities than anything else. People who are expecting this won’t be disappointed as the narrative is genuinely funny at multiple points and doesn’t take itself too seriously, but if you’re expecting Shakespeare (and I don’t think anyone will be) then you’ll be let down by what’s on offer here.

GRAPHICS: The graphical department is almost where Anarchy Reigns suffers the most. When you’re in the main area of the game, running round, doing missions and beating the enemies into a bloody pulp, you’ll constantly see low resolution textures that look blurry and pixellated. This occurs all across the game so you do almost get used to it, and the combat itself is fast paced enough to blur the ugly into something more manageable, but every time you stop moving you’ll be greeted with environments and characters that could have looked a whole lot better.

The in-game cutscenes are all well-presented, however, with a great deal of care and attention going into making them look as good as the possibly can. The animations throughout the game are quite well done, although with only a handful of possible moves per person you are going to end up seeing the same animation cycle over and over again. As with the low-resolution textures, this is unlikely to reach the point where it annoys you so much that you’ll stop playing, but it will become apparent if you stand still too long.

SOUND: In audible terms, Anarchy Reigns is actually rather good across the board. There’s plenty of music to keep you entertained while you’re playing, usually songs which seem to tie-in to whichever mission you’re on at that moment. This does bring up a problem though: because the songs are tied to the missions, and you’ll have to play some of the missions over and over again to gain enough experience points to unlock the next mission in the progression, you will be forced to listen to the same piece of music repeatedly. This could potentially get on some people’s nerves but unless you’re going after the gold or platinum medals, you shouldn’t need to play any of the missions more than a couple of times – unless you keep dying, of course.

The voice acting throughout the game is wonderful – especially the genuinely hilarious Blacker Baron – but the dialogue is as cheesy as anything you will have ever played before. This would normally get annoying quite fast but Anarchy Reigns is hugely self-aware, and plays up its hammy-as-hell script as part of the ongoing joke. This is a good move from the developers and will keep a lot of people entertained throughout the entire length of the game.

GAMEPLAY: Anarchy Reigns is a game that basically tasks you with punching people in the face as hard as you can, to attain the most number of points and kills. In the game’s main multiplayer mode ‘Battle Royale’, this involves taking on a number of player-controlled enemies and utilising all of your skills and special abilities to make sure that you leave the arena on the top of the leaderboards. If single player is what you’re looking for then you’re going to be chasing down some of the meanest bad guys – and sometimes good guys – in the universe and kicking the snot out of them until they align themselves with your way of thinking. Such a nice, relaxing game if you really think about it.

The single player campaign is where most people are going to start out, as playing through it will allow you to unlock more characters and abilities for the multiplayer mode a lot easier than leveling up in multiplayer; unless that’s your cup of tea of course. Single player consists of two sides: the Black Side, which is headed up by Jack Cayman, and the White Side, which is where Leonhardt “Leo” Victorion takes the lead. Each of these two sides have four stages to them, with each stage containing three main missions and three free missions. The main missions are how you’ll progress the story and continue through to the different stages, with the free missions – which you can play as many times as you want – there as a means to blow off some steam, earn some medals and gain those all important experience points.

The experience points are important because in order to unlock the next mission, whether it’s a free mission or a main mission, you’re going to have to get your experience bar to the top. This means that even if you’re only interested in progressing through the story so that you can unlock all of the characters, you’re still going to have to do all of the free missions, sometimes multiple times, just to get enough experience to unlock the main missions. It’s a very tedious restriction and breaks the game so much that what could be a very fun brawler becomes, at times, nothing more than an MMO-style grind-fest.

In addition to the multitude of multiplayer options available, ranging from the standard ‘Battle Royale’ all the way through to the crazy ‘Death Ball’. There’s also a ‘Training Mode’ that allows you to get to grips with the combat, which isn’t difficult to learn but can be extremely difficult to master. The training mode should be anyone’s first stop in Anarchy Reigns, even if you think you don’t need it – the instant you step online you’ll discover that you should have at least freshened up before you entered the ring. Alongside the ‘Training Mode’ is ‘Simulation Mode’, in which you’re able to simulate exactly the conditions you would find in multiplayer, only with CPU-controlled characters. This is an excellent way to learn the rules and limits of each of the multiplayer modes without embarrassing yourself in a ranked match.

MULTIPLAYER: The multiplayer mode is where Anarchy Reigns wants you to spend the bulk of your time, so much so that it’s even the only item on the menu that’s highlighted by default every time you start the game. As previously mentioned there are a hell of a lot of modes to be getting on with, so most people – even if they’re not usually ones to play games online – will more than likely be able to find a mode to suit them. To give you a better idea of just how many modes are available, I’ll list them here: Battle Royale, Team Deathmatch, Tag Battle, Tag Deathmatch, Deathmatch, Cage Match, Capture the Flag, 3-Team Capture the Flag, Team Battle, Death Ball, Survival, Mad Survival and Dogfight. Yeah, you counted that right, that’s 13 potential game modes for multiplayer – more than enough to be getting on with.

When joining a ranked match people won’t be grouped together based on their level within the multiplayer section of Anarchy Reigns, and players with a character of level 50 will regularly be placed with characters as low as level 1. Characters don’t get stronger as they level up, but they will unlock perks and extras that will but them slightly above the competition. I also experienced problems even finding a ‘Quick Play’ match, often having to wait upwards of ten minutes  due to people joining the lobby then leaving without waiting for a match to start. That said, once a game does start it’s extremely fun to play – the madness and speed of the solo campaign is perfectly translated into the multiplayer, but with the added bonus of playing against real people, thus forcing you to change up your tactics. If you rush in and attempt to button mash in the multiplayer, you’re going to find yourself at the bottom of the leaderboard very quickly.

LONGEVITY: There’re plenty of elements in Anarchy Reigns that will make people want to come back for more and more. Completionists will want to get that elusive platinum medal on each of the missions within a stage, find all of the unlockable concept art and gallery items as well as levelling up in the game’s impressive multiplayer offering, which takes a long time to do if you want to get all the way up to level 50. While the single player portion of Anarchy Reigns might be a little bit lacking in story or originality, it makes up for it by giving you a good enough reason to keep coming back to spend more time in this crazy, near-future dystopia.

VERDICT: Anarchy Reigns is an enjoyable enough game for arena afficianados, and the combat system is well-implemented and fun to use, but forcing us to grind missions that we’ve already completed just to progress through the game seems like a strange decision on Platinum Games’ part. It lengthens the runtime a little, but it always feels artificial, and you’ll want to progress through the story only to find that you have to repeat things over and over again just to be able to do so – that or just find people to punch in the face repeatedly for half an hour or so.

Anarchy Reigns really comes into its own with the multiplayer, and this is really the main mode of the entire game. It’s a well put together mode with plenty of characters to choose from along with plenty of interesting and fun game types. As with any primarily multiplayer game though, it’s only going to be fun if people continue to play it, and that’s something that really could go either way at this point.

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  • http://www.MartinJBaker.org.uk/ Martin Baker

    If it wasn’t for the strange choice of making players grind to unlock the next missions, the single player would be excellent. The multiplayer is clearly where it’s at though, and it’s some of the best multiplayer fun I’ve had in a while. Madness!

  • Lee Garbutt

    Agreed – Although the grinding depends on how well you do on the missions, which in a way gives you encouragement to get better at the Free missions to get more points and unlock the next mission faster.

  • http://www.MartinJBaker.org.uk/ Martin Baker

    Yeah, it doesn’t break the game but I find that if I don’t unlock the next mission when I’ve finished the previous one I’m more inclined to turn it off which is something I don’t think game developers really want me to do.

    Still, the combat’s great and the multiplayer is fun, the single player just isn’t for everyone :P

  • Erik B

    I’ve been looking to pick it up, especially at the budget price. Godviews are usually the tipping point (either way) on whether or not to purchase… thanks Martin.

    I’m probably alone in this, but it’s Martin’s fault. As soon as I read it, I thought ‘Platinum Games SHOULD make a game around Shakespeare dialogue’. I was not a Romeo + Juliet fan, but ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona’ could be cool :). How could anyone complain about the story, if it was based on Shakespeare’s writing?

  • http://www.MartinJBaker.org.uk/ Martin Baker

    I’m sure people would find a way to complain but I’m all for creative openness so of Platinum want to give it a go, I’d be first in line to pick it up and give it a go :P

    Thanks for the comment, also, “Godviews” might be the single greatest term I’ve heard in a long time.