Anarchy Reigns – E3 Preview

Anarchy Reigns is the new action brawler from Platinum Games, creators of such high-action games as Bayonetta and Vanquish. With such fast paced games already on their résumé we can already tell that Anarchy Reigns will be a huge adrenaline rush, and our E3 preview reveals a number of other details too.

We’ve already seen a number of videos for Anarchy Reigns, including character vignettes for several of the fighters on the roster, such as Blacker Baron from MadWorld. However, apart from the fact that the game will be a brawler having people beat the living snot out of each other, details have been rather slim, until now. During E3 I had a special chance to sit down with several team members and check out the game’s single player mode. Later I headed down to the show floor for a quick multiplayer battle, which I’ll talk more about later.

Anarchy Reigns‘ single player mode will serve up a deep story line, which will be playable from two different perspectives. Returning characters from MadWorld Jack and Leo play the game’s two protagonists, and despite both having been in the previous title, the story line is apparently a completely separate affair. Each character will play through the same story, but each will have their own unique perspective, and despite having similar goals are at odds with each other. After showing Jack briefly slicing through some enemies with his massive double chainsaw arm, we were treated to a scene where he meets up with Leo, and the two argue about their abilities to accomplish their goals. Leo appears to be a soldier of some sort this time around, and Jack a mercenary, saying “I’d be out of a job if you’d do yours.” These comments aren’t taken lightly, and the two soon end up in a fight, at which point our demo takes control of Leo, who wields two brutal sabers appearing to be made of a blue laser light. We’re told that to get the whole story and fully understand what’s going on, players will need to go through the game with each character, and that it will be worthwhile for more reason than that. As the story progresses different bosses are encountered, who upon being defeated become playable character’s for the game’s online multiplayer mode. The final roster count is still undetermined, but I spied a character selection screen with 16 avatar blocks, hinting that it may be close to that number.

Anarchy Reigns’ multplayer mode seems to be the true focus of the game, since the large majority of characters are only playable during it, and there’s promise of numerous modes being available upon release. One of these modes was available to try out on the show floor, which pitted four players in a free-for-all battle royale, with five minutes to come out on top. Each player was allotted a score, for which points were built up by beating each other to a pulp, with a bonus for dispatching an enemy. Dispatched players would respawn momentarily, with the true winner being the person with the most points at the end of the round. Gameplay was fast paced as expected, and fairly easy to get the hang of. Within moments I was pulling off some pretty crazy moves, slicing through my opponents and diving around the arena like crazy. While fun, my only issue with the game was trying to keep track of everyone. I could lock onto one player, but that left the locations of the other two a bit of a mystery sometimes. Luckily they usually fought each other, but every once in a while a huge hit to my back caught me off guard, leaving me feeling pretty vulnerable any time I couldn’t see everyone. Hopefully the final version of the game will have some on-screen indicators to point in their general direction, but it’s a minor complaint overall.

While the multiplayer is only playable online, I was told there would be a number of different modes, with some of them focusing on team-based actions only available by utilizing certain characters together. The Platinum Games team was rather vague about this, but I was able to find out there will be a practice mode as well, which will allow us to hone our skills by facing off against AI bots. We also were told that each character’s colors will be customizable to help differentiate ourselves from each other, but their overall costumes would remain static.

Anarchy Reigns is a clear attempt to start a new genre of fighting game, and so far the easy-to use controls hint at deeper strategies being developed as one gets more familiar with them, making this a contender to keep an eye on. I would have liked to spend more time investigating this, but unfortunately the show floor closed as my round ended, forcing me to wait with the rest of the world to get another look at Anarchy Reigns. I’ve been waiting since the 1998 cancellation of Thrill Kill for someone to try this style of game again, so let there be no doubt we’ll let you know if any more info surfaces on the exciting brawler.  Anarchy Reigns is scheduled for release in January 2012, leaving plenty of time for Platinum Games to tweak and polish until it shines.