Few Japanese developers have cultivated the stylish and frantic persona Platinum Games has. Hardcore gamers know what to expect when they see the Platinum logo on the box. From MadWorld to Vanquish to Bayonetta, it should be clear before you even put the game in your console that you’re about to experience loud, brash, unapologetic gameplay without out a shred of unnecessary fat. That’s even truer of Anarchy Reigns.
As a semi-sequel to Wii-exclusive MadWorld, Anarchy Reigns follows chainsaw wielding Jack Cayman and an entire cast of characters determined to beat each other to a bloody pulp. It can be hard to see beyond the budget pricing and the year of delay SEGA left between Japanese and Western releases, but can Anarchy Reigns deliver in classic Platinum fashion?
In the single player campaign, players will have to choose between Jack and Leonhardt “Leo” Victorian, a ninja-esque agent of Strike One armed with Positron Blades and a wicked sense of combat. Leo represents a smoother approach to all the ass-kicking, but either character is a fun way to learn the combat and progress through both free and story-based missions.
It’s easy to pick up the controller and pound a baddie with a simple weak or strong attack combo, but mixing in grabs and power attacks, along with defense and dodging makes for a varied, but approachable combat system. At one point, beat the crap out of one guy, walloped his friend with a strong attack, picked that guy up and threw him into another baddie all while a Semi-truck flew by at pedestrian-squashing speeds.
Random events like that semi-truck keep the overworked maps feeling fresh and unpredictable, despite how very little there is going on in them. You can fight people, launch missions, and… fight more people. It can seem bland at first, but mission variety keeps things fresh. You’ll have to defeat bosses or a set number of enemies within a certain time. One mission later in the game even gives you control of a vehicle and challenges you to run over as many enemies in a set number of laps.
If the campaign still can’t hold your attention (it should, it’s not very long), multiplayer might be more your speed. Matches range from free-for-all mayhem to 8v8 team battles. The sweet spot is somewhere near four on four, where targets are easily called out, ganking is possible, but not guaranteed, and communication is key. Items also keep things fresh: throwing a barrel at an opponent and proceeded to beat him or her to death after it explodes is devilish fun.
Perhaps the best part about multiplayer is the wide cast of characters you can choose from. Sasha, Zero, Blacker Baron, and Rin Rin are all personal favorites, but the beauty of Platinum’s balanced, easy to learn combat is that your character choice isn’t based on Tier lists. If you feel like a big pimp with a penchant for gold jewelry and beat-downs, there’s a character for you.
In a vacuum, Anarchy Reigns isn’t the greatest game. The campaign can get relatively repetitive, but most of the time is spent in a viciously satisfying combat loop. Regardless, Platinum and SEGA score points by pricing the title competitively. We can’t ignore the value inherent in Anarchy Reigns for just $30. What’s more, if you have even a passing interest in Platinum or brawlers, don’t hesitate another second. Anarchy Reigns won’t maintain a large population of online players for long.
Leave the inner critic at the door and dive into Anarchy Reigns without cynicism. Anyone hoping to do some soul-searching will be sour by the end, but if you’ve got a need for anarchy SEGA and Platinum have this dish piping hot. Anarchy Reigns is violent, vulgar, and a confusingly hilarious, all within a tight budget.