BADGP Reviews: Anarchy Reigns
Anarchy Reigns (SEGA, Platinum Games)
Review: Anarchy Reigns is an Oxymoron. By Alex Linna, January 23, 2013
Anarchy Reigns is a weird game. It has depth, but is shallow. It is difficult, but it is easy. It surprisingly has an emotional story, but then also has a character named “The Blacker Baron.” My thoughts and emotions swayed as I played Anarchy Reigns as if I was a sufferer of Bipolar Disorder. Hot, cold, funny, crass, fun, a chore, so many contradictory words and phrases could be used to describe Anarchy Reigns. I will attempt to make to assemble my final thoughts and impressions here.
I should probably come clean and state that Platinum Games is my favorite developer, so with that arises a certain level of expectation and a certain level of blind loyalty. Anarchy Reigns tests both. While it is probably my second least favorite game from Clover/Platinum nudging out Viewtiful Joe: Red Hot Rumble, it is still a good time and there is plenty of fun to be found in Anarchy Reigns. It is a brawler, or 3D fighter. Enemies have health bars; the player hits them until they fall down. The game is structured very oddly. First there are two single-player campaigns. Second, there is an overworld where the player picks up missions (Story/Main and Free). There is goal that must be reached for one to unlock more missions, making it necessary to replay mission in order to advance the story. The multiplayer is a clear focus of the game. There are 16+ playable characters and a slew of modes. I was able to play most of the plethora of modes and as every character, though finding matches was not always efficient. Battle Royale (12-16) is insanity, Team Capture the Flag, Team Death Match, Tag Team Death Match (2v2), and Survival were all interesting and very different ways to spin the same formula of beat until the other thing stops moving.
How Does it Look?
It pains me to say it, but Anarchy Reigns will not be winning any beauty pageants. The game looks… underfunded. It was no surprise why they dropped the US price to $30 at launch when I saw how poor the game looks. The cut-scenes are great looking when compared to the in-game engine. The art direction is not exactly inspired, but the tech would likely let it down if it was notable. The presentation and menus are fairly ugly too. Anarchy Reigns is rough around edges to say the least.
How Does it Sound?
If one has played Platinum Games’ MadWorld, then one knows what to expect from the soundtrack. Since the game is split into two campaigns, Jack Cayman’s (the main character from MadWorld) quest is called “The Black Side” and has primarily a bumpin’ rap soundtrack very similar to MadWorld’s. Leo’s “White Side” has a more electronic feel, but still has a lot of rappin’. The voice acting is largely good. I blame it more on the poor writing the unlucky voice actors must bring to life. The writing is poor, but my favorite line in the game came from The Blacker Baron, “This token ninja guy is big money walking, and this token black guy ain’t gonna let that slip away!” And there is an over 9000 joke.
How Does it Play?
Anarchy Reigns handles well. Though the game is not good looking and largely sounds bad, at least it is fun to play. Despite its many superfluous flaws, Anarchy Reigns gets the important things right, like being a fun game to play. There is a little bit of learning curve. I had to replay many of the first several missions just to simply understand what was going on, but by the time I got to the other campaign (I did the Black Side first) I was tearing it up with ease on Normal difficulty. While one plays the campaign one is consistently unlocking more characters for the multiplayer, which is a real strong draw to continue playing the campaign. I probably had more fun with the multiplayer, the campaigns were all right, but the multiplayer, with its diversity of modes kept me coming back (when I could find a match…). Despite the game taking a little while to get used to, I came to appreciate the simplicity within the fighting mechanics and the game certainly carves out a niche of its own. The combat is deeply satisfying, and it is a shame that it does not evolve over the course of the campaigns. Add in the most of the characters play the same, with little differences here and there, and the game could have used a deeper combo system or even an upgrade system of some kind.
How Does it Compare?
MadWorld was my tenth favorite game of 2009. That might have been to 2009 being so weak, but nevertheless I really like MadWorld and it is safe to say that Anarchy Reigns is the closest thing to MadWorld since. There are some cool bosses in Anarchy but not to the creativity and centerpiece of MadWorld’s. Anarchy of course has more playable characters, but they all have the same moveset. Ninja Gaiden 3 has online. I did not play it at all, because that game was a crushing disappointment, but I watched some videos and it is not too far off from what Anarchy Reigns does. The online 3D brawler is not exactly a bustling genre. When compared to their previous work, Anarchy Reigns is not as original as MadWorld, not as polished as Vanquish, and not as excellent as Bayonetta. So where does that leave it?
Platinum Games most recent effort is not exactly a disappointment, due to me not having any expectations for it. When I heard that they were working on a 3D online brawler, I kind of tuned out. The game is cheap and good for achievements if one is into that kind of thing. I enjoyed my time with Anarchy Reigns, but part of me wanted to replay MadWorld instead and indulge in the glorious sensory overload that that experience offers. The game is suitably over-the-top, but is not as crazy as any of Platinum’s previous work. Anarchy Reigns is an oxymoron. It is a game about government (I say this very loosely), and anarchy is the absence of government, so when anarchy reigns, nobody reigns. The story centers on corruption and revenge, but it fairly thin. Like its story, Anarchy Reigns, is unfortunately a rather fleeting experience, but fun nonetheless.
7.7 out of 10