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E3 2011: Anarchy Reigns – hands-on with bizarre brawler

Anarchy Reigns is the most apt title for a game we heard at this year's E3. Set for release in January 2012, we played the online brawler at Sega's booth. The result was a chaotic, fun and partially frustrating experience. From Platinum Games, maker of Wii's ultraviolent black and white brawler MadWorld, Anarchy Reigns goes full color and pares down the gameplay into a melee-happy game of tag.

According to Sega, Reigns is about getting in someone's face. The biggest draw to Reigns is the multiplayer, which pits at least 8 players against each other in one large donnybrook. There's no cover. No place to hide. No place to camp. Just run up and start wailing on an opponent. We played as the Baron – the questionable pimp stereotype from MadWorld – and laid the beat down against 3 others on an aircraft carrier.

You have weak and strong attacks, in addition to combos, throws and a super weapon that is different per character. The Baron had his pimp fists, which were set ablaze whenever we wanted to use his super attacks. One female character has a spiked bat and Jack – protagonist from MadWorld AND Anarchy Reigns – uses his chainsaw arm.

Our fight felt a little like tag. Some characters fight, one is on the wrong end of a devastating combo and then we would go in and take the winner of the duel down. We'd then be blindsided by someone else waiting to take advantage. In that way, the lock-on mechanic is both a blessing and a curse. You can easily lose sight of other fighters and get your teeth rattled. Before you know it, you're down a life. You can interrupt combos, but you can't double team someone on the ground and keep them from getting up. You'll need to wait for their “getting-up” animation to complete before kicking ass again. In that way, the game feels a bit balanced.

Other multiplayer modes planned include co-op where you team up with two other allies and fight against enemy AI. A single-player campaign places you in the shoes of Jack and Leo, fighting two sides of the intertwining story. Sega promises to show more of the single-player in the future.

We can't wait to see more of Anarchy Reigns. MadWorld was such a bizarre, cult hit that we're down to play anything from Platinum. Check back for more info on this run-and-puncher.

Jun 14, 2011