The primal simplicity of mashing buttons to bash in faces
The crazy cast of characters
How ridiculously over-the-top it all is
May be too campy for some tastes
The dullness of some single-player missions
Not knowing what the hell is going on in multiplayer
you catch a missile and throw it back at the jet that fired it at you?
No, probably not. It’s also unlikely that you’d be able to sprint up a
collapsed building in high heels, or punch a car with your bare hands so
many times that it explodes. But Anarchy Reigns, Platinum Games’
frenetic third-person beat-'em-up, makes these godlike feats seem
commonplace. It's that devotion to stylish excess that makes the game's
action so appealing, where the battles are so absurd and nonsensical
that you can't help but be charmed. It’s just a shame that the
multiplayer is more frustrating than it is fun--especially given the
fact that it feels like the core foundation for the otherwise short
You can think of Anarchy Reigns as a pseudo-sequel to 2009's
MadWorld, as it brings many of the Wii game’s black-and-white
characters into living color. Jack Cayman, the grizzled ex-Marine brute
with a hand-mounted chainsaw, is back. This time around, he’s sharing
the single-player spotlight with nimble pretty boy Leo Victorion, as
they chase after a fugitive in a super-suit. Over the brief
four-to-five-hour campaign, you’ll encounter dozens of skilled rivals,
hulking mutants, deranged street thugs, and military drones. And you’ll
punch them. You’ll punch them all, in the face, again and again and
experience oscillating levels of enjoyment throughout the story mode,
as scattered missions take you on a full tour of the gigantic levels,
with the occasional flashy cutscene mixed in. Said missions range from
exhilarating (riding a berserk mutant or gunning down waves of robots)
to boring (escorts and fetch quests), with a fairly consistent
variety--but they're made far more exciting by an increasingly nutty
suite of environmental threats that break up the pace and keep you
engaged. For instance, a fist-fight with a reptilian-skinned beast might
be rudely interrupted by a crash-landing cargo jet.
Reigns keeps things nice and simple when it comes to combat, using a
rock-paper-scissors balance between your repertoire of quick jabs,
powerful lunges, and hard-hitting grapples. Blocking and dodging are key
to nabbing a high score, but there aren’t any extensive combo strings
to remember or upgradable abilities to train up; even if you’re mashing
buttons willy-nilly, you’re likely to get far. Call it dumbed down if
you must, but it’s hard to deny the satisfying simplicity of pounding
away at a single button to take down mobs of enemies.
it’s short, predictable, and pretty darn easy to beat--but the
single-player campaign is exceptionally entertaining while it lasts.
Diehard fans of Platinum Games can look past the brevity of the
single-player, and will relish the more intense encounters with powerful
enemies. If, however, you’re not fond of gruff one-liners, sappy
dialogue, anime-style duels, and hilariously over-the-top caricatures,
all of the game’s ludicrous style may fall flat for you.
the multiplayer side of things doesn’t quite hit its mark. Here you can
play as a multitude of colorful fighters besides Jack and Leo, battling
in a variety of team deathmatch, 16-player free-for-all, and one-on-one
modes. And while you may think you’re hot stuff after plowing through
the solo campaign, you'll be singing a different, frustrated tune when
you get ganged up on and beaten to a pulp within seconds. The problem
with the multiplayer is that it reduces the combat to an unintelligible
mosh pit of violent chaos. With or without teams, players tend to
congregate in one area of the huge map, where things devolve into a
move-spamming, kill-stealing mess.
latency doesn’t help matters; at times, lag can cause your opponents to
flicker around you, or make you exit a grapple animation momentarily
frozen in place. Also, the frequency of grab moves and stuns means that
you’re constantly having control of your character taken away from
you--something that’s never enjoyable in a multiplayer experience.
One-on-one encounters offer a better test of your chin-socking prowess,
but the trade-off is the removal of all the riotous excitement of being
the one scoring all the kill(steal)s in bigger matches.
Reigns may be a case of style over substance, but if quick-and-dirty
brawling is what you’re in the mood for, it’s guaranteed to scratch your
savage itch. It’s a shame that the multiplayer, which could’ve
prolonged the game’s frenetic fun, will serve as an amusing distraction.
But when you just want to turn your brain off and pummel waves of
baddies, it doesn’t get much more gratifying or outrageously stylish
This game was reviewed on Xbox 360.
Jan 08 2013 - Xbox 360, PS3
Jan 11 2013 - Xbox 360, PS3
Xbox 360, PS3
Blood and Gore,
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