This game has been a long time coming. Released last year in Japan under the name ‘Max Anarchy’, Anarchy Reigns is an arena based brawler with a heavy focus on online multiplayer. Think ‘Power Stone’ but with chainsaws and a lot more cursing. When booting up the game you are presented with a number of options. I would strongly recommend hitting the tutorial section first, because although Anarchy Reigns may look like a brainless button-mash, it has surprising depth.
In fact, the game caught me by surprise with just how much it chucks at you during these early stages. There are regular attacks which can be joined into a combo, killer attacks that are more powerful but deplete a meter at the top of the screen (which can be refilled during combat), 360 degree attacks that can get you out of a tight spot but sacrifice health, rising attacks, air attacks, and Rampage Mode – which sends your character into a fury, unleashing 100+ hit combos.
If two characters in Rampage Mode attack each other at the same time the game enters some Dragon Ball Z type battle of strength, involving lots of button mashing! In terms of defence you can block and evade, although a block can be broken which will leave you stunned for a period of time.[drop]Luckily the single-player story mode is the perfect place to go and test out all of these skills. I wouldn’t even bother venturing online until you are reasonably competent at dispatching AI enemies. The story isn’t great, but neither is it terrible, and is split into a Black campaign, where you control Jack, and a White campaign, where you control Leo. You can expect 8-10 hours total if you want to play through it all, and it involves roaming around environments, finding missions and completing them. Doing well earns you more points, which in turn unlocks more missions as well as new characters to take online.
Speaking of characters, this is where Anarchy Reigns shines. There really is a play-style for everyone, with a varied cast of 16 to choose from (assuming you’ve unlocked them). Those who bought the Limited Edition will also be able to play as Bayonetta, who is pretty damn awesome and makes me extremely excited for Bayonetta 2. Part of the fun is just picking a character at random and discovering how they handle and what their move-set is like. Kudos to Platinum.
Whilst the single-player mode might not be the best, a quick look at the online options reveals that this is where you are meant to be spending the vast majority of your time. There are 13 modes to choose from (15 if you picked up the Limited Edition), ranging from a manic 16 player “Battle Royale” to tag matches and cage fights, to the extremely weird “Dogfight”.
I’ll be honest; some of these modes didn’t float my boat. Dogfight, for example, is just you in an incredibly slow moving helicopter trying to shoot down your opponents. My favourite mode is Survival, which features you and two others working together to take on 10 waves of enemies within a set time limit. I found it wonderfully addictive, especially if you get a good team together who can fully utilize their character’s abilities.
Most people seem to be sticking to Battle Royale though, which is just a massive rumble where you attack anything that moves. Occasionally the game will decide it wants to be particularly nasty and alter the level in some form. This could be flooding parts of the level in a poison gas, unleashing a giant squid or sending in a huge submarine to launch dozens of deadly missiles at everyone.
Whilst the majority of the time the online portion of the game runs smoothly enough, I have run into a bit of lag. There have also been a number of glitches with characters disappearing into scenery, and there was one time my character got hit by an enemy and froze in a falling animation for the duration of the match.[drop2]I can live with that, but I found the camera and target lock to be slightly more bothersome. The game is incredibly fast, but unfortunately the camera just can’t keep up. It can be manually adjusted, but normally by the time you’ve swung the camera about the person you were trying to see is either kicking your ass already, or has moved again. I found the target lock to be similarly cumbersome. It’s fine for when there’s a single person there, but not so great during some of the busier game modes.
I also have some concerns about how busy the servers are at the moment. This game relies heavily on the online side of things, but during launch week things haven’t exactly been busy. The first time I logged on it took an hour just to get two games. Granted, that was the worst occasion, but even so I’ve seen far too many “no games found” messages over the last few days.
The game does combat this somewhat by allowing you to play all the multiplayer modes with bots, but it’s not the same. The cheating buggers are absolutely flawless in their execution (of me).
Graphically the game looks fine. The character models have had lots of attention lavished up them, whereas the levels look a bit bland but certainly serve their purpose. I absolutely love the soundtrack too, from its jazzy menu music to the rather more bass-heavy tunes.
I feel I should also mention Anarchy Reign’s price. In the UK it can be bought for under £20. That’s a game with an 8 hour plus campaign and well-fleshed out multiplayer mode for a budget price. Suddenly a number of the complaints don’t seem too bad.
- Fluid combat.
- Varied, well thought out characters.
- For the most part the online works well.
- Budget price.
- Glitches and occasional slowdown.
- Camera and target lock just can’t keep up.
- Quiet online servers.
Anarchy Reigns is just good old fashioned, no nonsense fun. Even though a few of the modes aren’t that great, the ones that hook you in are extremely addictive and a blast to play through repeatedly. The game also has a varied, well balanced cast of characters, and a depth to the combat that you just don’t expect from viewing the trailers. Yes, there are a number of issues but in my opinion this game is a bit of a steal at £20 (and I’ve seen it as low as £15). I just hope the online community sticks around.