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Review

Anarchy Reigns Review

  • Game release: January 8, 2013
  • Reviewed:
  • X360

Anarchy Reigns' tight combat and over-the-top action are brilliant in places, but tiresome in others.

by

'

It's not every day that you're forced to fight a squid to death, let alone one with vicious, electrified tentacles and a penchant for chewing on aircraft carriers. Nor is it every day that you see said squid get sawn in half by a loud-mouthed pimp, or its squelchy offspring squished into bloody black ink by a man with a rusty chainsaw for an arm. But then, this isn't your typical game. As brawlers go, Anarchy Reigns is certifiably insane--and that is most certainly a good thing. Its ability to combine kooky characters and bizarre situations with a thoroughly satisfying combat system is an admirable achievement, and an entertaining one at that. Unfortunately, the story is poorly told and doesn't make a whole lot of sense. And there are several frustrating, repetitive missions to play through, not to mention some iffy multiplayer modes. But when Anarchy Reigns hits its stride, the combo-fuelled fighting is messy, gory fun.

Technically, Anarchy Reigns continues the story of Jack Cayman, the sadistic frontman of the Wii-exclusive Madworld. But with the exception of a few subtle nods to its spiritual predecessor, there's little to be missed by jumping straight into the action--the story won't make much sense either way. This is the tale of Cayman and fellow protagonist Leonhardt "Leo" Victorion, who are hunting down a fugitive named Maximillian Caxton. Caxton, it seems, has gone insane and has begun using his cybernetically enhanced body to start exacting bloody murder on innocent citizens, one of whom happens to be Cayman's daughter. Cue a few cheesy, emotionally charged flashback scenes, a barrage of forgettable character introductions, and some gibberish about a power-hungry law enforcement group, and you've got yourself a plot.

It's a confusing collection of nonsense, partly because little, if anything, is explained thoroughly enough for you to follow, and partly because the characters spout dialogue that's about as thoughtful as a Christmas card on Valentine's Day, and no less idiotic. Even the deeply sinister Russian overtones of Nikolai Bulygin and the humorous jive of the Black Baron aren't enough to save it. Still, in Anarchy Reigns the plot serves the gameplay, not the other way around, and in that respect it succeeds in pushing you around from one fight to the next with little fuss.

And boy is there a lot of fighting to be done in Anarchy Reigns--so much, in fact, that it can get a little repetitive after a while. Thankfully, the third-person combat system makes punching, kicking, and performing gruesome, bloody combos entertaining enough to stave off much of the creeping apathy. Part of that comes from its simplicity. There are just two types of attacks for you to use--normal and heavy--with another button allowing you to block. Combining the three by varying your button presses creates all sorts of interesting combos, where Cayman swings, kicks, and uppercuts his opponents, turning them into a bloody mess. A subtle pause between each attack lets you know when to unleash the next and gives the combat a fluid feel. Nailing the timing to perform combos can be tricky, particularly as none of the commands are listed anywhere, but it's so satisfying once you do and Cayman lays waste to a group of enemies with a series of brutal smashes.

You can spice up your combos by using jumps--which let you unleash uppercuts and ground smashes that are useful for breaking up groups of enemies--or by using Cayman's chainsaw, which saws smaller enemies in half and takes huge chunks of energy off larger ones. It's linked to a special attack bar at the bottom of the screen that lets you get four blows out before it depletes, after which you have to resort to normal attacks to fill it back up again. The chainsaw is a requisite for defeating the larger, more aggressive enemies, such as rampaging mutants and giant, hammer-swinging goons. Thanks to the smooth combo system, adding the chainsaw into your regular attacks soon becomes second nature, while grisly visuals and guttural sounds make using it satisfying.

Anarchy Reigns' missions spread that grisly fighting out over several hub-levels, on which are located missions for you to complete and various creatures for you to battle. A short day and night cycle keeps you on your toes, with weaker enemies roaming around in packs during the day and stronger ones coming out at night. It's a neat way of letting you know that bigger, more difficult enemies are on the way, which gives you a chance to run away and dive straight into a mission to avoid being mauled. The missions themselves are, on the whole, well thought out. Some have you trying to kill 100 bad guys against the clock; others have you fighting cyborgs with devastating energy weapons on rooftops; while still others have you slaughtering mutants by lopping their heads off with Cayman's chainsaw. There are more offbeat missions to play through too, including one that has you piloting a flamethrowing vehicle around an impromptu circuit, gleefully incinerating anything in your path.

Outside of missions a counter at the top of the screen shows how many enemies you've managed to kill while roaming the hub-level, with bonuses and power-ups on offer for reaching more than 100. There are also plenty of points to accumulate, with bonuses available for combo kills or particularly gruesome ones, which unlock further missions on the map that reward you with more points and more missions. Despite the hub-world setting, missions are unlocked one at a time in a linear fashion, though you can go back and replay certain ones if you're short on points or want to increase your high score and nab a platinum medal. And don't think for a second that those hub-levels are particularly big either; the maps are very small, and apart from a few hidden power-ups to find, there's little to explore and discover.

Tacked onto the tail end of each world is a boss battle, which helps to break up the action, but some work better than others. One-on-one battles fare the worst, and you can often beat opponents just by hammering a few buttons. Better are the larger-scale battles, such as the fight against the tentacle-waving kraken, which has you throwing slabs of concrete into its gaping mouth, sawing through its electrified tentacles, and crawling up its face to pound its eye into a mushy mess. The variety of things to do certainly helps make fights more interesting, but it's still not all that challenging; even the final battle can be whizzed through with relatively little effort.

If you're after more of a challenge, then Anarchy Reigns offers a range of competitive multiplayer modes to battle through. Unfortunately, you have to play through the single-player or level up in the multiplayer to unlock extra characters, which is annoying if you just want to jump straight into a fight with your favourite character, but at the very least, all the moves and specials are unlocked from the start. They're spread in a classical way, with more sprightly characters dealing less damage, and larger, slower ones dealing more. The learning curve online is steep. With more experienced players having already learnt the intricacies of the combat, more often than not your first few fights result in a quick, shameful death.

Stick with it, though, and it soon begins to click. Those little pauses between hits are the perfect opportunity to launch some moves of your own, and identifying the weak spots in an opponent's attack proves to be an addictive process. In one-on-one battles, fights stick with that strategic mechanism, with you and your opponent exchanging well-timed combos and blocks to the death. Things change dramatically when more players get involved, in modes like team deathmatch, tag deathmatch, and capture the flag. Up to 16 players can get together for a mass brawl, and combat gets very chaotic, very quickly. Sometimes it's wonderful: the sheer chaos of it all is something to behold as scrap cars and explosive barrels are flung toward you, exploding against the ground while rival players are slammed into walls en masse.

At other times the chaos gets in the way of battling. It's particularly annoying when you're in the middle of a great combo, only to have a rival player whack you from behind or lift you up in an unbreakable grab and end it. The fluidity of the combat is lost when so many players are involved, making playing on smaller maps and in smaller teams of two much more enjoyable. A levelling system that goes all the way up to 50 tries to encourage continued play, but with health bars remaining static and a glacial rate of progress, there's little joy to levelling up.

In attempting to meld first-person-shooter-like modes with classic brawling, Anarchy Reigns' multiplayer doesn't succeed in delivering the best of either. The visuals, too, lack that Platinum Games charm: characters look like generic, muscular video game guys, or overtly sexualised females, while the environments often repeat textures and seem to be hidden behind a wall of blurry Vaseline. Where the game succeeds, then, is in its silky combat system, but only when it's put to use in the right way. There are moments of brilliance in smaller online battles or in some of the single-player's set pieces, where it all seems to click and the gory combat becomes so enjoyable. Anarchy Reigns might not hit those highs often enough to be truly great, but it's different enough and crazy enough for a chainsaw-fuelled rumble or two.

'
The Good
Satisfying combat system
Fabulously gory combos
Chopping the head off a giant squid with a chainsaw
The Bad
Difficult to follow the story
Some single-player missions get repetitive
Big online brawls don't work as well as smaller ones
7
Good
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44 comments
piedude67
piedude67

my favorite platinum game ever... i havent tried MGRR

IllegallyAwesum
IllegallyAwesum

I miss the black and white of Madworld; I played the death out of that game just because it was awesome to watch.

theblackfrog
theblackfrog

this game sux, bad netcode, bad graphics, bad/lame gamemechanic

Kid_Black_Star
Kid_Black_Star

I'll get this when the price dro- wait it's only thirty bucks well might as well right? Heck yea! 

fatherofsword
fatherofsword

The last scene reminded me of snake and liquid

Wahab_MinSeo
Wahab_MinSeo

reminds me Look like Borderlands 2 cover

UnbornCorpser
UnbornCorpser

The game is $30 new & the story is ok (Repetitive & only a few cutscenes) but the real entertainment is the multi. There's a ton of playlists & a good amount of characters. Like a few others said since SEGA didn't give them a good enough budget the game could've only focused in one area & it chose the multi. I believe it was a smart move since the story couldn't have been made to well if they chose that path instead.

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

Question: Was blood color changed for the video or every enemy bleeds that blue crap?

SadPSPAddict
SadPSPAddict

Gonna be worth a try. Renting first though!

True_Chaos_UK
True_Chaos_UK

Its a great budget title, that has many interesting ideas and extremely fun. Some of it could have been executed better, but its well worth the £15 I paid. Just hope the online community is around for a while. I have missed the brawlers of old this fills the gap.

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

Hmm.... Looks okay, but nothing that strikes me as essential. I'll probably wait for a significant price drop.

itchyflop
itchyflop

its different ill give it that

demonkingx5
demonkingx5

another game in the mid level mark 

00LiteYear
00LiteYear

It seems Gamespot likes to think all of Platinum's games have annoying characters.

JustPlainLucas
JustPlainLucas

30 dollars?  So getting this!  The whole 60 dollar standard needs to go away.

grasu
grasu

Can someone tell me why 7 years after the Xbox 360's release this game looks like it came out on the PS2? Japanese garbage... to say the least.

magicalclick
magicalclick

Hmmmm....... did I missed something? 09/07/2012?

0m39AX
0m39AX

Something in this game reminds me of Heavy Metal Geomatrix(Dreamcast), mixed up with Bayonetta and Virtua Fighter customization. 

monster637
monster637

the problem with the reviewer is that he mostly plays DS games and angry birds in his spare time, the multiplayer you have to work as a team and if you go all COD and run out on your own ,you get ganked,, or cought slipping an your gangbanged, alot of the people playing the multiplayer have been playing the demo on a japanese accounts for a few months

SciFiCat
SciFiCat

Sounds about right, could not care less about the story - in these kind of games it is all about the combat.  It is not as if people played Streets of Rage or Final Fight back in the day for its riveting storytelling.

A 7 sounds about right and is no discouragement at all for people who like action combat games with tight controls.  

Carpetfluff
Carpetfluff

Seeing as it's selling for under £20...not much to complain about. 

lightwarrior179
lightwarrior179

If the likes of Bayonetta,Devil May Cry 3 and God of War can reinstate the glory of hack-n-slash, I think their era is far from gone,Mr.Wisdominsilence.

 

You can be validly excited about Last of Us, but its success isn't going to change what people like/hate about hack-n-slashers. 

 

On point of Last of Us being "game-changing", I wouldn't be so sure of it either. The Walking Dead has already upped the ante of guardian-child relationship to the extent that Last of Us faces a tough task when it comes out.

NickPunt636
NickPunt636

Whether it is relevant here or not, I kinda agree with Wisdominsilence about Hack-'n-slash titles... It's kinda old hat. EVERYONE went APESHIT about Darksiders, to the point I decided, "what the hell, just buy the damn game"... Played it for an hour, maybe two, realised I was doing the same thing I had been doing an hour before, just pressing the same button over and over, and I was BOOORED!!!!

istuffedsunny
istuffedsunny

I can't believe this got a 7.0, it's a 6.0 AT BEST. The game's repetitive, shallow, and really blurry. The developer can definitely do better (see Bayonetta)

Wisdominsilence
Wisdominsilence

With The Last Of Us on the brink of changing of the videogaming industry, hack n slash games will have to up their ante if they want to capture the imagination of their audience.

Zevvion
Zevvion

@piedude67 You might change your mind then. Revengeance is really, really great.

theblackfrog
theblackfrog

mediocre at its best.....i expected a bit more from platinum games after madworld and bayonetta...even for 30 bucks

theblackfrog
theblackfrog

@prismtech u just need the limited edition, it seems in europe there is only limited edition out there.

megakick
megakick

@prismtech If you preorder it from GmesSpot wait a month or so and you can buy her, DLC.

rkzhao
rkzhao

@grasu because you're looking at 360p <30fps youtube vids

rkzhao
rkzhao

@magicalclick the game was released in japan last summer. For some stupid reason, sega made the retarded decision to push the international release to now instead of during the summer drought even though the content and voice overs were all complete.

OGKNav
OGKNav

@monster637 The other problem is so do the general consensus of gamers. So basically it's lose/lose for anyone who isn't brainless.

Rickystickyman
Rickystickyman

@Nikosnik123 Dude you've complained three times about how much you hate this game. Have you even played it?

M3o5nster
M3o5nster

@lightwarrior179 Walking Dead isn't even really considered a true game by some... Last of Us has some serious adaptive A.I. going on within the gameplay. The story and setting is nice as well, but the innovative gameplay is a huge part of the appeal.

jrod316
jrod316

 @NickPunt636 Dude I understand what you mean with certain hack and slash games being repetitive, but darksiders is not, you only played an hour -_-..you learn skills and perform other moves and uses other weapons.. maybe you shouldve played a little more..just saying.

Bgrngod
Bgrngod

 @NickPunt636 You make it clear that an awful lot of people are into hack-n-slash games, but because YOU aren't, then they must be "old hat"?

 

Did it occur to you that if "EVERYONE went APESHIT about Darksiders", then everyone might also continue to go apeshit about other hack-n-slash types of games?

 

And just so you know, Darksiders is not a hack-n-slash anymore than one would call Zelda a hack-n-slash.  The games takes a few hours to hit it's stride.  The first hour is pretty horrible.  I gave it a second chance recently and have been very happy I did.

howie1926
howie1926

 @istuffedsunny Really? And you know this because you have played it right? I did not know you were a time traveler

suplax
suplax

 @Wisdominsilence Are your dumb or just pretending ?

The Last of Us is not a "hack n slash" game like your said , it's a surivival game. so don't dare to compare then.

It's like compare Halo and FIFA.

There are different products for different audiences , no idea what point are you trying to prove , the meaning of your argument.

 

theblackfrog
theblackfrog

tried to play online and only a few matches are possible...and if sum1 leaves the lobby u have to wait again....

icy1007
icy1007

@megakick @prismtech Pre-Order from Gamespot? Do you mean Gamestop? Everyone who pre-ordered from Gamestop got Bayonetta and a few exclusive game modes.

glitch2424
glitch2424

@M3o5nster @lightwarrior179  

Don't be surprised if the last of us has fixed (staged) events as well. Their "adaptive AI" seems to lead to staged enemy encounters that seem (at least to me) mildy annoying. It's naughty dog, for goodness sakes - they were never good at creating an AI. Ever. This game COULD possibly be the first though.

Also Anarchy reigns doesn't seem like a bad deal b/c it's 30$ at stores.

im-a-roustabout
im-a-roustabout

@suplax @Wisdominsilence Suplax your point was lost the second your fingers touched the keyboard. Your spelling and word usage left me wondering what the hell you we're even trying to say in the first place.

y3ivan
y3ivan

 @suplax  @Wisdominsilence The last of Us is a post-apocalypse Uncharted with zombies.

 

at least from what ND has been showing the public lately

Wisdominsilence
Wisdominsilence

 @suplax

 

Hack n slash games are dead. There era of being crowd pleasers has gone. No-one wants to play them anymore. The only way they can re-invent themselves is become big budgeted blockbusters titles. The concept of hack n slash has also got to be reinvented.

green_scorpion
green_scorpion

@Wisdominsilence @suplax I'm very much looking forward to both Dynasty Warriors 7 Empires and Fist of the North Star: Kens Rage 2.  Both come out next month, so I guess I'll be hacking and slashing for some time to come.  No one wants to play them anymore?  Speak for yourself.

suplax
suplax

 @Wisdominsilence I guess the community speak for themselves....

There is no shame in admit you're wrong.

Sovereign_Gale
Sovereign_Gale

 @Wisdominsilence  @suplax 

First of all, their*.  I'm also still a fan of Hack and Slash, and I know quite a few who are. We certainly wouldn't count as "no one". Back up your arguments with facts next time, because all I see are arbitrary statements that have nothing to back them up.

shadowboy88
shadowboy88

 @Wisdominsilence  @suplax The fact you think it's dead doesn't mean it actually is man, pls don't shove your selfish ideals on to others.....psh!

 

Rammone-X
Rammone-X

I think you're jumping the gun a little. Don't forget Devil May Cry 4, and games like God of War. What about Metal Gear Solid Revengeance. I think you're being a little close-minded here. Still I'm a little disappointed in this game because they made us wait and this is what we get after all the delays.

Anarchy Reigns More Info

  • Released
    • PlayStation 3
    • Xbox 360
    Anarchy Reigns is a third-person multiplayer brawler.
    7.4
    Average User RatingOut of 130 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Anarchy Reigns
    Developed by:
    PlatinumGames
    Published by:
    Sega
    Genres:
    Beat-'Em-Up, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language