If you have ever felt like you needed to let off steam by punching something in the face, Anarchy Reigns is calling your name. With massive chainsaws, super-katanas, and characters who’ve been advanced with mechanical body parts, there is all the punching, slashing, juggling, and shooting that you could ever need to satisfy your most stressful day. Though it has its ups and downs, Anarchy Reigns (AR) is one that shouldn’t be overlooked too quickly.
Those of you with a Wii have probably played MadWorld. Anarchy Reigns is based in the same universe, and there are quite a few characters who have breached the confines of the Wii to the Xbox and PS3. Jack Cayman and a new character, Leo (why is there always a character named Leo?), are after the same man in this post-apocalyptic future setting. Naturally, the storyline is a little incoherent at times, considering it isn’t really the focus of the game. There is a bit of surprising humor from time to time, but the predictability leaves the plot feeling rather flat. You can choose to play first with Jack on the Black Side, or Leo on the White Side. Once you finish one side, you are automatically switched to the opposite side to see how the other character’s story lays out. Beat both of those, and you can lay Red Side and beat the game. This sounds fun, except you quickly learn both campaigns are almost exactly the same. You travel to the same maps, have nearly the same battles, and run into like characters. While most of the English voice-overs are halting and over the top, Steven Blum returns to voice Jack, and does a great job. Don’t know who he is? If you’ve ever played a game or watched an anime, you’ve heard his voice before. He’s in everything.
There are four stages in both campaigns. When you are plunked down into a stage, you are given a rather large hub map to freely roam. Mutants and robots will constantly fling themselves at you, and you earn points for kills. Once you reach a set number of points, your first mission will unlock for you to play. Missions have objectives that must be met, usually including a timer or defeating X amount of baddies. You are graded on your performance, earning a bronze, silver, gold or platinum ranking. Since the next mission won’t unlock until you reach a point requirement, you’ll want to do exceptionally well, and if not, then you’ll want to replay it. Otherwise, you are stuck needlessly grinding in the hub, and that can take a very, very long time.
You spend most of your time playing as either Jack or Leo, but occasionally you can play as one of the many other characters – if there is a mission that requires you to have a teammate. These other characters are wildly different from each other, but they are not unique in the least to a Japanese anime game. The brutes are hulking, the girls are chesty and immature, and there are very few Japanese characters. Most of them are American or Russian, for some reason, with ridiculously stereotyped names to boot. Playing as one of these less-than-original characters is a nice change of pace, because although Jack and Leo have some simple combos and special attacks, the animations for them get boring after you’ve slaughtering thousands of enemies.
AR is an action/fighting game, and you don’t have to be very skilled to quickly have the moves mastered. There is a bit of strategy involved in the combat, including your use of combo-breakers, guard-breaks, brief intervals of god-mode, and exploding environmental items. Button mashers will blaze through AR‘s campaign with ease, but that can’t be said for the multiplayer. Once you are comfortable with the combat, you will find ways to rack up points quickly by stringing combos, keeping a high hit count, and taking out multiple enemies at once by slicing a group of them clean in half. The carnage is satisfying, with mutant blood flying and body parts flying, but the graphics are unfortunately muddled and blocky. Plus, the camera can have a mind of its own, occasionally robbing you of a point-laden opportunities.
Here’s what Anarchy Reigns is all about: Multiplayer. There are many modes to choose from, including Tag Team, Death Match, Death Ball, Capture the Flag, Survival, and a chaotic 16-man Battle Royale. You will need to have a clear understanding of the combat to come in first place online. Every battle you join will have random environmental hazards, ensuring that you stay on your toes. Sometimes you will encounter an out of control semi-truck, other times it will be an aerial bomb drop. Playable characters are locked for online play, forcing you to beat the campaign to unlock them (grind, grind, grind). For a game that puts so much focus on multiplayer, you are left totally unrewarded for your online efforts. All of the achievements/trophies must be obtained through the campaign; it’s just one more thing you are forced to grind out on the mediocre, 10 hour play-through.
For as much fun as you can have on the multiplayer, there is a lot of repetition in Anarchy Reigns. While some may see the campaign as an easy grind to enhance their multiplayer experience, it is still a grind. Coupled with the mediocre plot and graphics, and the wild camera, this would be one that I would normally not be incredibly impressed with. However, PlatinumGames and SEGA played it smart by releasing Anarchy Reigns in Europe and North America with a discounted price tag. Well played, sirs. That makes the all the inconveniences nearly worth it.
Anarchy Reigns gets 3.5 “Stereotypes” out of 5