Tech News on G4
'Anarchy Reigns' a chaotic mess
Feb 5, 2013
By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada
There's no better way to describe Platinum Games' new brawler than by simply uttering its title, so here goes - "Anarchy Reigns."
Indeed, chaos truly is the name of the game here as blood spews forth at every turn, environmental hazards pop up out of absolutely nowhere, and worst of all, the plot for the single player campaign is more inane than Link's family tree.
Anarchy Reigns gathers together characters from 2009's Wii-exclusive "MadWorld" game, along with several newcomers. The campaign follows the stories of two specific characters - MadWorld's Jack Cayman, as well as Leo Victorion. You can play through the game as both characters, but you must complete one character's story before trying your hand at the other.
Both Jack and Leo are bounty hunters who are tracking down good-guy-gone-bad Maximillian "Max" Canton, though both are doing so for different reasons. Both stories are split up into four chapters, and each chapter sees you fighting through a different environment, earning points by killing - or more accurately, annihilating - enemies, and completing missions.
For about five minutes, Anarchy Reigns looks like a glorious open-world game, where environments break and crumble under your weapons of choice, enemies come at you in bunches as you string together combos, and minibosses pop up out of nowhere to add new challenges to the mix.
Don't be fooled, because it's all nothing more than a mere illusion with a great hip-hop soundtrack playing in the background. The levels are glorified arenas that can be traversed in a few minutes and provide very little incentive to seek out the few secrets that do exist in each level.
The enemies, meanwhile, range from ridiculously easy, to extremely difficult, to just plain annoying. The never-ending groups of henchman that come at you every few minutes can be disposed of with a few button mashes, and after hours of play time, only serve to annoy you as you try to get to your next objective.
Minibosses pop up, and here the challenge swings wildly, as they're not easy to take down, especially when five or six of them spawn in front of you, for absolutely no reason whatsoever. That being said, activating your Rampage Gauge will make quick work of any enemy, no matter how formidable they may seem. In other words, the difficulty of the game on its default setting is essentially based around when you use your Rampage Gauge, and little more.
There are also flying enemies that pop up occasionally, and in a game that focuses so much on close quarter melee combat, these seem completely out of place. Of course, if the controls for your characters' ranged attacks were anything beyond "nearly useless and impossible to pull off," these enemies wouldn't be as bad, but sure enough, aiming with a rifle or locking on to a hovering robot with a throwable piece of debris is never intuitive.
Although each chapter includes a few main missions as well as some side missions, you really have very little choice over what you complete and when. You open up new missions by earning points, and the majority of these points are earned by completing missions. Do you see the problem with this?
Sure, you could grind your way through hundreds upon hundreds of enemies to earn enough points to open main missions, allowing you to skip the side missions, but what's the point? As mentioned earlier, most enemy encounters are far too easy, and within about an hour of playtime, are just plain boring.
No mission, whether a "main" or a "side," is particularly inventive, and they range from "kill 'X' number of enemies in a certain amount of time" to "protect the AI until it gets to a waypoint."
The combat itself is very visceral, and there are several moves each character can pull off, but you won't have to do much beyond a few well-placed heavy attacks with your "killer weapon." In a neat move, players are given the chance to take control of different characters that are befriended throughout the game, but the differences between each character are minimal.
After fighting through several bosses that are - surprise, surprise - ridiculously easy or molar-grindingly difficult, and sitting through far too many glossy-but-mind-numbing cut scenes, you'll have opened up a whole set of characters to play through in the surprisingly well-rounded multiplayer offering.
But "well-rounded" doesn't equate to "good" in the case of Anarchy Reigns. The game plays similarly to single player, with players being dropped into a level and being tasked with beating the snot out of each other, whether it's every man/woman/cyborg/robot for himself/herself/itself, or a team mode.
There's a rugby-like mode called Death Ball, and while it holds the most promise, it gets bogged down by scoring that happens far too often, and cut scenes that occur constantly.
The Survival Mode has up to three players joining in to take on several waves of enemies, but there's absolutely nothing here that you haven't seen before in these modes. In our time with Survival Mode, my team never lost due to being killed; time was our most formidable enemy. I would have preferred an endless mode where the enemies truly become challenging.
There really isn't a lot going for Anarchy Reigns. There are some interesting ideas sprinkled throughout the single player and multiplayer modes, but none of it gels into anything worth spending a significant amount of time with.
Besides the uninspired gameplay, silly plot, and throwaway multiplayer, it's worth noting you'll be treated to one of the most racist and misogynistic video game characters to ever grace a console - and that's saying something. Take our advice, and ignore any cut scene involving Blacker Baron.
Better yet, ignore this game and just go back to playing the much more interesting MadWorld.
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