Anarchy Reigns – Review
Platinum Games' latest brawler is less than the sum of its parts.
Michael Plant is chief editor and writer of gaming ezine and blog GamesCatalyst.com, as well as editor of 'The Independent'’s games review printed in the Saturday supplement 'Information'. Established in February 2011, Games Catalyst endeavours to bring its unique brand of fact and satire to the videogaming community and, in tandem with 'The Independent', hopefully turn a few non-believers on to gaming while we’re at it.
Monday 21 January 2013
No one does violence quite like Platinum Games. From the sliding, power-suited madness of Vanquish, to Bayonetta’s hyper-sexualised, shoe fetish acrobatics, this is a developer that’s cornered the market in stylish and stylised gore.
Even Madworld’s monochrome exploitation-fest – with its hideous splashes of red and hilarious sign posted brain injuries – stands head and shoulders above the drab greys and browns of western-developed shooters and brawlers.
This is precisely why the first few minutes of Anarchy Reigns are so listless. All of Platinum’s big, brash characters are here, all rippling neck muscles and impossible chest appendages, but the backdrops to your brawls are brown-washed and generic. There’s none of the sparkle or swagger we’ve come to expect.
Even the character models are a little bland, with Madworld’s chain-fisted Jack in particular looking like he’s just stumbled in from a Gears of War title. And that feeling of mediocrity is compounded by the single-player campaign’s lack of ambition.
Picking from either Jack, or pretty boy Leon, you’ll battle through a series of scraps and tumbles as a story about murdered daughters and madness meanders its way through your brain. The entire thing is uninspiring to say the least, with only a few moments that really show what Platinum can do; a three way brawl against a giant squid in Jack’s half of the story being a rare highlight amidst the dirge.
Thankfully though, the single-player portion is a mere appetiser, practice for the main multiplayer meal if you will, that also ensures that Sega isn’t peddling a game with a disc that’s half empty. This does make the purchasing equation simple however: if you’re after a rewarding single-player experience, don’t bother with Anarchy Reigns.
If, however, you’re looking for a game that throbs and hums to the smashes and crashes of a online scrum; that pours scorn on subtlety and poise and rejoices in a mad, multi-coloured ballet of kicks, punches, and offensive weapons, then there’s a lot here to enjoy.
Not that it’s a perfect experience even here however. The melee combat is balanced at the expense of real characterisation – every character’s combos are basically the same – and while some pugilists are strong and slow, and others nippy and weak, when the screen is full of chaos it’s sometimes hard to tell whether your blows are even making contact.
That’s the price of Platinum’s vision. While there are plenty of different modes, from capture the flag, to a version of basketball with more decapitation than usual, they almost always end in a massive brawl in the centre of the level.
Entertaining most certainly, but that fun comes at the expense of the soul that Platinum’s other games resound with. There’s a lack of the purity of Bayonetta, because timing means nothing when eight other super powered brawlers are trying to cave your head in.
The problem is thus: Platinum has tried to make everyone feel special, to try and make each fighter in the ring feel like they’re top dog, and in the end all that does is make everyone feel a little average.
Anarchy Reigns is worth your time, and it’s worth the effort you have to put in to master it, but compared to the rest of the developer’s canon it just doesn’t cut the mustard. As I said, no-one does violence like Platinum Games, and that expectation is precisely why it never rises above the merely passable.
By Harry Slater
Format: PS3, Xbox 360
Developer: Platinum Games
Life & Style blogs
American Apparel makes 15-year-old YouTube star Brendan Jordan the face of its new campaign
Gill Pharaoh: Healthy nurse who killed herself in a Swiss clinic accused of doing it for 'publicity'
Porn block in India: hundreds of sexual websites banned, internet outraged
What do the emojis on Snapchat mean?
'Cool kids' can go on to become losers in later life, study finds
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Chris Leslie: Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity agenda will harm the poor, says Labour shadow Chancellor
Landlords renting properties to illegal immigrants to face up to five years in prison
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Labour leadership race: Jeremy Corbyn could be the next Prime Minister, says Ken Clarke
- 1 Malaysia issues arrest warrant for Gordon Brown’s sister-in-law after she publishes stories on leader Najib Razak's financial affairs
- 2 Porn block in India: hundreds of sexual websites banned, internet outraged
- 3 Natalia Molchanova: World's most successful free-driver is missing and feared dead after disappearing in Mediterranean
- 4 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 5 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...
£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£18000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Their research appears at the f...