Out today, Anarchy Reigns is a game which simply should not make sense online. Yet, quite bizarrely, it really does.
My play time started off with a brief introduction to the game via early parts of the Single Player. Cutscenes reintroduce Jack Cayman and Leo amidst an array of new characters, before letting you pick between the two to play with, and dropping you into a post apocalyptic world filled with ever spawning enemies for you to battle through.
To give you a little taste of what to expect on that front, Peter’s put together a video of the first Free Mission in the game, a straight up brawl to take down 50 enemies.
After I muddled my way through the two missions on offer to me, getting the hang of the controls as I went and generally being knocked about a bit in a boss fight, attentions turned to a games journalist LAN party of sorts, to give us a flying visit to everything this game had to offer online.
First up we got to play a fairly standard and obvious Team Deathmatch. Pick you character from an expansive roster of characters and hop into a sizeable arena for a timed battle, at which point utter chaos ensues.[drop]With up to 16 players at once in a free for all, or up to 8v8 play in teams, you can essentially be attacked by any number of enemies at any time. In this case, we were playing 4v4. You might think that you’re duking it out one-on-one on the top of this building, but within a matter of seconds, a roving band might zip up on a lift, and start tearing you a new one in a surprise attack.
On top of that, chuck in environmental elements like fixed turrets or the regular Action Trigger Events, brought over from the Single Player, and the levels of craziness just keep on rising. Periodically the level will have random ATEs drop in to add an extra spice to proceedings. Everything from derailed trains and crashing planes to black holes and bombing runs can occur, so as soon as the warnings start blaring, you get out of there as quickly as you can!
Honestly, I barely had a clue what was going on half the time, but somehow managed to do fairly well. Stealing a few quick kills whilst I was on a turret, or killing someone weakened by a huge cloud of gas seemed to do the trick, but those who master their character’s peculiarities will do best of all. Something which was highlighted when we switched to different modes.
Our whistle stop tour of game modes took me through smaller 2v2 battles and 1v1 “Cage Match” modes, which lent themselves much better to the more technical side of fighting. The focus shifted to getting in blocks, counters, extravagant grab moves and chaining up lengthy combos without that worry of having a roving band of enemies suddenly appearing from behind.[drop2]The co-op Survival mode was similarly quite a simple set up, with three players teaming up against waves of ever trickier AI enemies coming at you, but with Capture the Flag, Platinum have mixed up the traditional CTF formula by going for three teams in a 2v2v2 format.
In this form, it’s definitely a much trickier prospect, and a mode I didn’t get manage to get my head around. That could have been down to my picking a slower paced character who I didn’t get on with, or the cunning imbalance of always having four players trying to stop your team from capturing, but either way it needed a little more finesse and nous than I had in me.
Saving the best until last, the final mode we all played was the excellently named Deathball. I think this one is fairly self explanatory, playing a little like a barebones 3D version of Speedball, just with the super human cast of characters.
As the ball drops, it’s a mad rush to the centre to grab the ball from your team, and keep a hold of it through the ensuing melee. Passing it about, the idea is to keep a hold of it until the enemy’s goal opens up, courtesy of a meter which runs along the top of the screen, and is tied to your ball possession.
After a few early goals, basic tactics started to come together and evolve on the fly, taking the ball back into your own half, going for a long ball over the top, and having covering defenders just in case the other team managed to make a counter attack. In some ways, this could have almost been a whole game in and of itself!
There’s a pretty vast array of things to try in this game’s multiplayer, with more modes and characters than we had a chance to see, and I’m still quite baffled at how it all seemed to hang together so well. It’s almost like every fleeting design idea which was put up for consideration was added in just for the hell of it, and it somehow came out working.