I do not believe that any game developer or publisher is perfect, even in cases of a perfect track record. A company with a perfect record is simply a company that has not yet made its first mistake. Platinum Games is one of the companies that sits on my “haven’t screwed up yet” list, primarily because of their absolute brilliance in developing Bayonetta and Vanquish (my game of the year for 2010). Two years ago, Platinum Games announced the title of their fifth game in partnership with SEGA: Anarchy Reigns (Max Anarchy in Japan).
As information was slowly released, revealing some of the characters and the game’s mechanics, my excitement grew. Originally, I only had to wait until the end of the year, as Anarchy Reigns started out with a Fall 2011 expected launch. That was pushed to January 2012, then Spring 2012, and for a long time to July 2012. As the launch date came closer, it finally came out that the July launch date would be for the Japanese market only, and that the North American and European markets would have to wait…indefinitely (tentatively, Q1 2013). I, being the Platinum Games fan that I am, decided to import a fully localized and region free Xbox 360 copy on the Japan launch, and have been playing since July. Next week, Anarchy Reigns will finally hit domestic shelves, and you can all join me.
And join me you should. Platinum Games is still, for the moment, on my good list.
Anarchy Reigns is not, as most people assumed it would be when announced, MadWorld 2. It does feature some returning characters from MadWorld, but there is no canonical connection between the two. They are simply characters being reintroduced in a new title. Anarchy Reigns is primarily a multiplayer brawler, but also features a single player campaign (no campaign co-op, unfortunately). Actually, to be fair, it features two single player campaigns played from different perspectives. Jack’s “Black Side” storyline represents his anti-authoritarian perspective and story direction, while Leo’s “White Side” storyline represents his “good-guy” perspective and story direction. Playing both campaigns is suggested to get the full effect of the story, since the two campaigns are interwoven. The single player campaign is mission based, with a central hub location used for acquiring quests/missions. In these hub levels, you must fight waves of varying enemy types to earn XP. As you hit certain XP benchmarks, new story missions and side missions/challenges become available in the hub level. Character development is handled with ability customization, skill trees, and more. Successful combos can build momentum within missions, giving your character more power until the end of the mission.
You will find different points on the map to start story missions and free missions (side missions/challenges):
With the single player mechanic of earning XP to unlock actual missions, you may find that your experience can easily become monotonous if you do not break up your gameplay between grinding and missions. The hubs are not very large, so you don’t get a lot of environmental variety in your XP grinding. If you pace yourself, though, and make sure that you break up the grinding properly, you will find a somewhat enjoyable, and definitely insane story, supported by a large cast of interesting and entertaining characters.
A tour of one of the game’s hub levels with a look at some of the free mission and story mission starting points:
The combat in Anarchy Reigns is incredibly fun, and highly combo-oriented. You’re granted bonus points for extended combo chains (the highest I recall managing is a little over 110 hits), with points added at every 10 hits (+1000 at 10 hits, +2000 at 20 hits, etc.). You can’t maintain a truly fluid flurry of attacks through that high of a combo counter, but there is a bit of a time allowance granted between attacks before the counter resets. As long as you finish one set of attacks and pick up a new set within a few seconds, your counter continues unbroken. Aside from light and heavy attacks, each character has a desperation attack that clears the area around you in exchange for a small amount of health and a “Killer Weapon” set of light and heavy attacks that use your special bars. The Killer Weapon attacks (as you saw in the mission video against the mutants – specifically, the chainsaw attacks) deal a large amount of damage, but are limited by your special bars. These bars recharge as you deal normal damage and are dealt damage. Additionally, as you saw in the mission video, each character can enter a Rampage mode, which provides invulnerability and infinite special bars for the duration of the mode. It takes a while for this to charge up, and it is spent in under a minute, so make sure you use it wisely. Finally, there are a wide selection of random items that can be gathered either from item boxes or from random pop-up enemies carrying crates. These items vary from a protective shield to offensive weapons like a sniper rifle, rocket launcher, and more. You can only carry two items at a time, and the item boxes and pop-up enemies do not come often enough to keep you continually stocked. Use them as needed, and often as last resorts.
Anarchy Reigns’ real focus seems to be in its multiplayer. There are multiple game modes with various objectives, from a straight 1 v 1 Cage Match with no abilities or items, to a co-op wave Survival mode, and many more in between. I haven’t experienced any lag or connection issues with the game, and the variety of gameplay modes will definitely provide you with a good amount of title longevity.
Anarchy Reigns will (finally) be available in North America on January 8th (next week, woo!) for the ridiculously low price of $29.99. I had been expecting this to release at a normal price point, and paid a pretty penny importing my copy six months early. The best praise I can give it is that I don’t feel bad about paying the import price. Is it perfect? No, as I said it can get a bit grindy, and the story is a bit odd. Then again, I’m not going to hold the odd story against Platinum Games, given their fabulous track record of weird. Anarchy Reigns is not the crown jewel of Platinum Games’ stable of titles, but it is definitely a game to be proud of.
- Solid graphics
- Super cheap retail price
- Excellent gameplay
- Big variety of multiplayer modes
- Great variety in playable characters, with Platinum’s signature oddity in character design
- Single player campaign can become a bit of a grind when unlocking levels
To see where this review score falls in our scoring range, please read our review scale guidelines.