Friday, May 31, 2013

Better Late Than Never Reviews: Anarchy Reigns (PS3, 360) Review

One last review to cap off the festivities that was the month of May 2013 at SuperPhillip Central. This time we're looking at a budget title that released at the start of the year. It's Anarchy Reigns.

It's A Mad, Mad World.

Platinum Games is a studio made up of many former (now defunct) Clover Studios employees. While they no doubt create excellent gaming experiences such as Vanquish, Bayonetta, and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, the studio has problems getting their games to sell to a wide audience. Platinum Games is at it again, but this time they have released a budget title ($29.99 MSRP, to be exact) in the form of Anarchy Reigns to try their luck at a huge hit. The game is a spiritual sequel of the Nintendo Wii exclusive, MadWorld. Does Anarchy Reigns prove that rules are for fools, or does this reign fall short?

Two fighters from MadWorld continue their 
rivalry in Anarchy Reigns.
There are two halves to Anarchy Reigns' silly and honestly uninteresting story. Jack Cayman on the Black Side of things is a Chaser Guild agent who has been enlisted to help a woman find her father. Meanwhile on the other side, there's Leo Victorion, who seeks to learn more about his mentor. Both characters' paths come across one another multiple times during the course of both storylines, so there is some commonality between the two characters. It's just too bad that the actual plot, full of unskippable dialogue sequences falls totally flat. What made MadWorld so much fun is that the story was completely limited and unobtrusive, allowing players to simply play the game. This isn't the case with Anarchy Reigns, unfortunately. If by some odd chance you actually enjoy the story of the game, then more power to you. I simply didn't.

When in battle, Leo lets his legs do the talking.
Anarchy Reigns throws players into the shoes of Jack or Leo as they follow along their own paths. You're thrust into a fairly large open world area with the objective of earning points through killing enemies (who come off more as annoyances and inconveniences rather than challenges) and completing missions, both free and story-related.

Free missions have such tasks as defeat 50 or 100 enemies within a time limit, racing on a vehicle equipped with a flamethrower as you speed from checkpoint to checkpoint and barbecue foes that stand in your way, and even riding a giant super mutant that can rampage through the map, obliterating everything in its sight. There is a decent variety of activities and tasks that are showcased in the free missions, but it can be annoying needing to replay them just to earn enough points to unlock the next story mission.

You've certainly heard of the TV show Boy Meets World.
Well, this is none other than Mutant Meets Chainsaw.
Speaking of story missions, there are usually three or four in each open world level that need to be completed before you can move onto the next level. Generally these story missions have you taking on a boss character who will either fight you one-on-one, or call in his or her buddies to assist with eliminating you. These boss fights are the coolest part of Anarchy Reigns's campaign. They're fast, they're fluid, they're challenging, and above all else, they're just plain fun.

The artist formerly known as Black Baron just got beat.
That's because the fighting mechanics of Anarchy Reigns are rather well done. Sure, the lock-on could be much better, as shifting between focus on foes can be challenging, and you can often whiff a lot of punches and kicks. You can also be made vulnerable because while you're locked onto one enemy, one (or several) behind you blindside you and do some serious damage.

That said, everything else works well. The controls are responsive, and Jack, Leo, and the rest of the playable characters have a full arsenal of moves to utilize. From 360 degree attacks to using killer moves, the streets will be filled with the blood of your enemies, for sure. There's even a Rampage attack (performed by pressing in both analog sticks when the gauge is full) that lets you use brawn over brains to muscle through the defenses of a foe.

A carpet bombing? Just another everyday
occurrence in the world of Anarchy Reigns.
Outside of the campaign, which will take most players 3-5 hours for each side, and then another hour or so for the final chapter, there is online multiplayer to be found in Anarchy Reigns. The online allows a myriad of options and modes, such as chaotic 16-player deathmatches, Capture the Flag, one-on-one battles, Tag Team, and even a rugby-type competition. The problem here is that finding a game in the mode you want is really difficult to do. It was hard to do when the game came out back in January of this year, so you can just imagine how it is many months after the fact. It's a practical ghost town, which is a pity, because what Anarchy Reigns has to offer is a load of fun.

If you can find anyone to play with online, you'll 
enjoy what Anarchy Reigns has to offer in multiplayer.
Inconsistent is the word that I think best describes the presentation of Anarchy Reigns. Incomplete character animations and punches that don't land yet still give out damage are common problems. The open world levels are a nice touch, but there's so little to do in them, despite them being lookers. Anarchy Reigns sports a soundtrack that is much more full of electronic tracks than what was heard in MadWorld, so that did little to interest me ears compared to the Wii game's songs. On the voice acting front, what's there sounds great, though the lack of proper lip-syncing is easily noticeable.

If Anarchy Reigns were a full price sixty dollar game, all of the faults that the game has would be less forgivable. As it stands, I can much more tolerate the presentation problems, the tricky lock-on controls, the tedious story, and the sparse open world levels. Underneath its brutal, ultra-violent exterior lies an incredibly competent brawler that will both challenge and entertain. It is indeed a mad, mad world, but that is definitely a good thing.

[SPC Says: 7.0/10]

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