Many developers have been going darker with the tones of stories lately. It's time we stop asking definitively if this is a good or bad thing and consider the artistic value at hand.
Anarchy Reigns: Prepare For A Beating
Platinum Games is becoming one of the more noteworthy developers out there. With games like Bayonetta, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and Vanquish under their belt, they’ve carved themselves a nice little niche in the industry and continue to grow. Anarchy Reigns continues Platinum’s trend of creating over-the-top action games that are reminiscent of beat ‘em up and hack n’ slash arcade classics but with a modern twist. This time, however, Platinum brings their special blend of insanity to an online environment.
The chief focus behind Anarchy Reigns is online multiplayer action. There are various modes players can participate in, including Tag Team, Deathmatch, Survival and Capture the Flag. This is basically what you’d expect, but the “action-trigger events” that happen in real-time (tornadoes, bomber jets, black holes, etc.) add thrills and make for some truly hectic combat in what is a solid online experience. There are 16 characters to choose from and each one brings something different to the table. All of their combos work the same, but the characters have unique and stylish “killer weapons” that decimate foes in different ways. Don’t expect to be able to access all of the playable online characters right away, though. The majority of them have to be unlocked by playing through the single-player campaign. This may seem like a pain for those that just want to play online, but the story mode offers its own rewards.
Anarchy Reigns is set in a dystopian future where the world has taken a beating thanks to biological warfare. In order to stay alive, humans have taken to using nano-technology and cybernetics to evolve. The chaos found in the world is showcased by the formation of gangs, terrorist groups, bounty hunters and clashing ideologies on law and order. Players of the Nintendo Wii beat ‘em up MadWord, Platinum’s first game, will recognize the main character instantly – Jack Cayman. This time, instead of participating in violent game show, Jack works for the Chaser Guild and is searching for a fugitive known as Maximillion Caxter. The other protagonist, Leo Victorion, is Jack’s rival and works for the Bureau of Public Safety in their Strike One team. Leo is looking for Max, as well. Max was Leo’s mentor in the Bureau but is now on the run after being accused of murdering his wife. Both Leo and Jack’s stories run parallel to each other and merge together at the end. Before you start, you select White Side (Leo) or Black Side (Jack) to determine which story you’d like to experience first.
While the story won’t give you any emotional drama, it does give an ample supply of over-the-top banter and one-liners. Anarchy Reigns does try to have some sort of moral compass, but since it’s presented as a ridiculous anime-meets-90s-comics crossover it’s hard to take it seriously; it is what it is. For whatever reason, I found the narrative to be weirdly engaging and caught myself laughing numerous times. Of course, the insane character designs helps with the comedy, not to mention the out-of-synch “talking-head” dialogue sequences that pop-up from time to time. To add to the crazy, the soundtrack is a reckless mixture of hip-hop, techno, metal and industrial that’s presented shamelessly.
Each stage is fully explorable, but most of them are pretty small. However, there are random enemies that spawn all over the map and random events, like those found in multiplayer, happen periodically. In order to unlock the story missions for each stage, you have to score enough points by defeating enemies and completing “free missions”. The free missions usually involve either fighting numerous waves of enemies or having to defeat a certain amount. However, Platinum does spice things up a little by changing the conditions, giving you a powerful weapon with unlimited ammo or having you complete laps on a race track filled with enemies and traps. The main missions, naturally, advance the story, but they mostly contain boss battles or team-ups where Leo or Jack join forces with other characters to take on bosses, powerful mutants or robots.
While the open-world areas of the game are nice, I’m not sure they were that necessary. They do aid in Platinum’s quest to provide non-stop action, and sometimes it can be fun to see exactly how many enemies you can kill without dying. The combat is very fun, but it can grow repetitive due to the lack of variety in the combo system. The blocking and dodging mechanics work well, though, and you can rest assured that the game isn’t just a button masher. Well, unless you’re playing on easy. The multiplayer is definitely where the fighting shines, but Platinum really should have added local co-op. If they would have, Anarchy Reigns would make for an incredible party game.
Anarchy Reigns is certainly not the best game Platinum has ever made, but it contains all the trappings that make their games stand-out from mainstream fare. You really can’t beat the price, either. It was originally released for a mere $29.99 and it’s stacked with more content and replay value than most games double that. You can easily rack up a lot of time playing the fast-paced multiplayer modes, and after beating the campaign with Leo and Jack you’ll be able to play through the game again with all of the other characters. Sure, it doesn’t have glossy textures and is a bit rough around the edges, but Platinum managed to offer a AAA experience for budget gamers. This is one sleeper hit that packs a punch.