Platinum games are infamous for developing third person action titles. In 2010 Platinum released the critically acclaimed Bayonetta and February this year sees the release of what is possibly their biggest title to date, Metal Gear Rising: Reverengence. So you could imagine my excitement when their latest title Anarchy Reigns was sent over to Plus XP HQ. After many hours of pummeling enemies to the ground and getting my ass handed to me several times online, here is what I thought of Platinum’s first outing for 2013.
Let’s fast forward several decades into the future. The world has crumbled due to political turmoil and a full scale world war. Widespread battles over resources have turned the environment into a dark and desolate place, where mutants run wild and nowhere is safe. In this post-apocalyptic setting survival is key and it’s everyone for themselves. Anarchy Reigns has been dubbed as the spiritual successor of Platinum’s debut title MadWorld, and because of this we see some of MadWorld’s key characters return. Fan favorites such as the chainsaw wielding Jack Caymen, the over the top super pimp Black Baron and Black Baron’s psycho girlfriend Mathilda are just some of the characters that make a welcome return. The story line however is totally brand new and has no connection to MadWorld’s narrative, meaning that new comers to the franchise are welcomed with open arms.
Campaign mode is split into two parts, the white side and the black side. Each of these sides has its own main character and own storyline. Unfortunately both sides share some of the same missions, meaning that you will find yourself playing the same mission at least twice. This can make the story feel quite repetitive at times. Luckily Platinum games have thrown in the odd unique mission for each side giving some much needed variety. The single player story line is easy to follow, with all of Anarchy Reigns extensive character roster featuring in some way. The dialogue between these characters however can be a bit cheesy and even cringe worthy at times.
Each of the single player stages is a mini-open world which you can explore freely. Every stage has a good dose of hidden items and un-lockables to find, and is teeming with enemies for you to pound into the ground. You gain points for each unsuspecting mutant you kill, and once you have collected enough points more missions will open up for you to complete. Missions are split into two categories, free missions, which are Anarchy Reigns answer to side quests and main missions which help progress the story. Free missions give you a huge point boost once completed making it essential to complete them if you want to open the main missions faster. This mission formula makes the free missions feel like less of an after thought and more like an essential part of the game. Once all of the main missions in the stage you are playing are complete you can progress to the next stage, where there will be a whole new mini-open world for you to explore.
In Anarchy Reigns the gameplay mainly consists of mashing combinations of light and heavy attacks to deal massive damage. As well as the hack and slash action Platinum games have also thrown in a few other abilities to mix things up a bit. These abilities include ‘Killer’ moves which look brutal and dish out a hell of a lot of damage, grabs which can be handy to get out of sticky situations and 360 attacks which are useful when you are being swarmed by too many enemies. Some of these moves come at a price however, for example every time you use a 360 move a small amount of your health depletes, meaning that overly abusing this move can end up eventually killing you. ‘Killer’ moves are restricted as well as each time one is executed it will use up a part of your ‘Killer’ move gauge. Luckily this gauge regenerates as you use the standard light and heavy combos against your enemies, so it’s worth mixing up your attacks.
Each character also has a rampage ability which is available to use once your aptly named ‘rampage meter’ is at maximum. In rampage mode you are invulnerable for a short period of time and you have an unlimited ‘Killer’ move gauge. Once this is fully activated you can unleash all sorts of hell onto your opponents at rapid speed. If your opponent is also in rampage mode and you attack each other at the same time you are thrown into a battle of endurance. Here you will have to mash buttons repeatedly corresponding to the prompts on screen. If you manage to mash the buttons faster than you opponent you unleash an attack that does massive damage.
If for some reason you find yourself getting a little board of punching people in the face, then there are weapons strewn across each stage for you to pick up and hurl at any unsuspecting mutants around. MadWorld fans out there will be pleased to hear that weapons such as tires and street signs make a return. This means that in classic MadWorld fashion you can have hours of fun sticking tires around your enemies and jabbing street signs through their throats. More traditional combat items such as grenades, rocket launchers, and force fields are also hidden around the game world and can be picked up and used at any time giving you a leg up should you need it. Overall the combat in Anarchy Reigns is really easy to get into and reminds me a lot of old school beat ‘em ups such as Final Fight and Streets of Rage. If Streets of Rage ever got a next generation reboot then I’d imagine it would play a lot like this.
Anarchy Reigns really comes into it’s own with its multiplayer mode. Think Unreal Tournament mixed with Bayonetta and you may just get an idea of what the multiplayer feels like. There are several game variants to choose from such as your typical Death Match and Capture the flag modes. There are also some more in depth game modes such as Survival, which is Anarchy Reigns answer to horde mode, and a really addictive American football style game mode called Death Ball. The multiplayer modes pose more of a challenge as you are fighting characters controlled by other online players as opposed to generic AI controlled opponents. In game modes such as Death Match, strategy is key as you will find yourself being defeated by your opponents before you take your first step forward. Using a mixture of auto lock on and manual lock on will give you a leg up on any un-suspecting opponents, and a perfectly timed 360 attack will knock a bunch of your opponents out giving you a bit more breathing room. Team based matches such as Death Ball and Capture the flag can be more complex as the focus is not just to kill anyone you see. Once you have grasped a key strategy in multiplayer mode however, you will probably find yourself playing for hours on end. Unfortunately the Multiplayer mode is online only, which is a shame as Anarchy Reigns could work really well with a split screen multiplayer option.
+ Plenty of Un-lockables
+ A throw back to classic beat ‘em ups such as Streets Of Rage
+ Online Multiplayer will have you glued to your TV for Hours
- No local split screen multiplayer
– Single player missions can be quite repetitive
– Script could be better
Overall Anarchy Reigns is a fun game to play, especially when it comes to its multiplayer mode. It’s just a real shame there is no local multiplayer. Even though the single player campaign can be quite repetitive at times it is still fun to play through, and with a solid combat system and a healthy amount of un-lockables Anarchy Reigns is a great title for any hack and slash fan to pick up.
Anarchy Reigns is out now for Xbox 360 and PS3
The Plus XP Review System
At Plus XP we like to review games a little differently. Instead of giving the usual score out of 10 like most review site do, all games we review are scored out of 100 (or in Plus XP terms 100XP). Each review will feature a XP bar at the bottom of the page representing the score given to a game.