Anarchy Reigns Review: Platinum Delivers Another Insane and Satisfying Beat ’em Up

by David Sanchez January 14, 2013 @ 5:45 pm

Anarchy Reigns - Feature

First impressions are important, but they can also be deceiving. I’m not going to lie — I was a little worried when the first thing that popped up when I loaded up Anarchy Reigns was a screen with a wall of text feeding me the game’s plot. I was also a bit worried to think that online multiplayer was the main draw in Platinum Games’ latest romp because I figured all I’d get as far as the game’s single-player component was concerned would be a training mode-esque campaign. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case at all, and it turns out the somewhat nasty first impressions that Anarchy Reigns made were not indicative of what this action title is all about.

It should be pointed out that this is not Platinum at its craziest or at its best. That said, this MadWorld “kind of successor” is still wild enough to be considered something of a playable anime. The story itself isn’t all that incredible, but it’s good enough, and what really matters is the delivery, which is just flat-out phenomenal. Basically, the world is screwed up, with people turning into mutants, running around, and killing each other. This is really just a backdrop for main characters Jack (of MadWorld fame) and Leo, two dudes who are after the same man for different reasons. Where Jack is a hard-boiled mercenary who plays by his own rules, Leo is a believer in justice and law.

Anarchy Reigns - 1

You start the single-player campaign by selecting either Jack (Black Side) or Leo (White Side). Regardless of who you choose, however, you still end up playing as the other dude after you get to a certain point, and you then see the story through that character’s perspective. Selecting one protagonist at the beginning just determines whose story you play through first and who you battle the end boss as. Getting to that end boss won’t take you too long, either, because the campaign in Anarchy Reigns wraps things up in about five hours. Don’t let the brevity of the game’s single-player mode fool you, though — those are five surprisingly satisfying hours.

Anarchy Reigns attempts to touch on some serious issues during its single-player mode. The moments when Jack’s reminiscing on his young daughter or Leo’s thinking about his mentor are a bit melodramatic, and they’re kind of weird. This is due to just how silly the game can be most of the time. Whether you’ve got the jolly pimp Blacker Baron claiming that he’s “too black for this sh*t” or a guy named Big Bull trying to kill you only to help you out later on as a sign of respect, the characters and happenings in Anarchy Reigns are totally nonsensical (in a good way). Big battles sometimes end in cutscenes, and these are simply used to continue the bouts with added bits of absurdity galore (like people briefly battling midair and landing on their feet). It’s just way too cool.

Action in Anarchy Reigns is fairly straightforward, though there are some great nuances. The bulk of the combat consists of button mashing and simple combos, as well as light and heavy attacks. There are also charged moves, running attacks, and grapples. The charged moves are especially interesting because they leave you vulnerable for a bit, but if you can fully charge and land those attacks, you’ll witness a sweet animation. You’ve also got a Rampage meter that charges up as you play, and clicking down on the analog sticks will cause you to enter Rampage mode. While in this state, you can unleash devastating, unbreakable combos that are just crazy to watch. Also, your character’s literally on fire during Rampage which is pretty awesome.

Anarchy Reigns - 2

There’s plenty of variety to be found in both the single-payer and multiplayer modes. Rather than just tossing you into level after level of straight brawling action, Anarchy Reigns puts you into multiple hub worlds during the course of its campaign. You’ve got Free Missions and Main Missions. The former consist of you beating up waves of bad guys, taking on massive beasts like a Kraken, controlling hijacked helicopters, and blasting bad guys with sniper rifles. It’s great that Platinum changed things up a bit, though some mechanics don’t work as well as others. Main Missions help progress the storyline, and these are the bouts that really count, pitting you against some challenging foes and feeding you to angry bosses.

Multiplayer is also quite robust, with more than 10 modes to dig into. You’ve got your standard deathmatch and capture the flag offerings (in both free-for-all and team variants), but there are also some intriguing original concepts. One such example is Death Ball. Simply put, this is like football, except you can kill the other players. Like the other multiplayer modes, it’s a lot of fun, and it’s simple and easy to get into. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the online servers. It seems there are constantly issues with the online component in Anarchy Reigns. Oftentimes, you’ll try to connect to a game and encounter a screen telling you that the lobby is full, the connection was lost, and so on. And while I’ve never had this happen to me, I have heard a few players say that they were kicked out of a multiplayer session while playing.

Visually, Anarchy Reigns looks quite good. Platinum has succeeded in providing a game that looks great both technically and aesthetically. Environments are stylish and decorated with some great touches. It’s rad running around Hong Long and seeing the moonlight glisten off the ground or witnessing the dilapidated city ruins of Altambra. The character designs are also great, with hulking dudes like Big Bull, Blacker Baron, and Jack really standing out. Of course, the women of Anarchy Reigns also sport unique looks and far more jiggle physics than realistically possible.

Anarchy Reigns - 3

The sound design is top notch and surpasses the graphical style of Anarchy Reigns. The voice acting is solid throughout, but it’s the soundtrack that really shines. Consisting entirely of hip hop, the tracks in Anarchy Reigns are incredibly catchy. A lot of the artists who provided music for MadWorld are back once again, delivering even more of their loud and action-themed music. Also, the fact that old school underground hip hop group Dilated Peoples provided an original song for the game is superbly kick-ass.

Anarchy Reigns is the type of game that will summon polarizing reactions. Some people will absolutely adore it for what it is: an intense, action-packed beat ‘em up with fun online play. Others won’t really care for it due to its simple mechanics, connectivity issues, short campaign, and silly story. If you’re a fan of Platinum’s previous efforts, anime, or straight up action games, give Anarchy Reigns a try. This MadWorld quasi-sequel is definitely an intriguing and unique project, and it deserves to be played by the very fan base that will cherish it. Don’t let that first impression fool you — Anarchy Reigns is a game worth digging into and enjoying. Here’s hoping this isn’t the end of Jack Cayman’s adventures. That dude with a chainsaw for an arm is just getting started.

Follow this author on .