1. Computing

Anarchy Reigns Review (X360)

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

By

Anarchy Reigns Review (X360)
SEGA
The post-holiday period is usually agonizingly slow in the games industry, but 2013 is getting off to a good start with the wild and awesome Anarchy Reigns. It pairs developer Platinum Games' (Bayonetta and Vanquish) trademark tight controls and imaginative gameplay - this time in a fighter / beat-em-up hybirid - with a crazy cast of characters and over the top action that is just insanely fun. Anarchy Reigns is a blast that no action or fighting game fan should miss. And for a budget priced $30 MSRP, you have no excuse not to give it a try.
Game Details

  • Publisher: SEGA
  • Developer: Platinum Games
  • ESRB Rating: “M" for Mature
  • Genre: Fighting
  • Pros: Fun gameplay; tons of content; great multiplayer; nice presentation; bots!; $30 MSRP
  • Cons: Story campaign isn't fun; 16 player matches too hectic

Single-Player

The story in Anarchy Reigns features Jack Cayman, who starred of the Wii-exclusive Madworld, but knowledge of Madworld isn't required to make sense out of Anarchy Reigns. Put simply, it doesn't make sense either way. Jack is hunting down a fugitive and meets a lot of crazy characters along the way which make up Anarchy Reigns' playable cast. All you need to know is that all of the characters have crazy abilities like chainsaws built into their bodies, armored suits, elemental attacks, rocket powered hammers, and other awesome stuff. This is a game that relishes in how over the top and crazy it can be.

It has to be said, though, that Anarchy Reigns is much more fun in multiplayer than it is in the single-player campaign. The single-player is more like a beat-em-up where you explore hub areas and fight through wave after wave of brainless foot soldiers in between the occasional boss fight. The SP is a bit of a grind because it becomes too repetitive pretty quickly, the hubs aren't that interesting, and as cool as some of the bosses might be, the experience as a whole just isn't that fun.

Multiplayer

SEGA
Luckily, Anarchy Reigns has fantastic multiplayer modes that more than pick up the slack. Multiplayer features up to 16 player matches in a variety of team and free-for-all match types. You can do an everyone-versus-everyone battle royale, team deathmatch, capture the flag, 3-team capture the flag, cage match, tag battles where you have a teammate, a team sport-like game called Death Ball, and even a co-op horde style survival mode. Yeah, these are all the same modes that most online FPS have these days, but playing them in a multiplayer beat-em-up sure makes things fresh again.

Another great feature is an offline training mode against bots that features all of these modes. Real people are definitely more fun to play against, but bots are fun too. Unfotunately, there is no local multiplayer, only Xbox Live play.

One other slight drawback is that you have to unlock most of the characters. You do this through either playing the story campaign, or by ranking up in multiplayer matches (not in offline training matches, though). You can unlock everyone pretty quickly online, however, so it isn't too bad if you dislike the campaign (like us).

Gameplay

The gameplay is really what puts the whole package together, and it is absolutely delicious. Anarchy Reigns is a third-person over-the-shoulder perspective brawler with fighting game-style combos. You have normal attacks and heavy attacks, a jump button, a block button, a throw button and you can lock on to enemies. By combining all of these in different ways, you create new combos. Toss in jumping attacks, diving attacks, multi-directional throws, the ability to pick up and throw objects, and the fact that every character has unique abilities and stats (different effective ranges, different attacks, etc.) and you have a game with a ton of depth that is a blast to play. The controls are simple, and a little button-mashy at first, but you definitely have to know what you're doing in order to survive. The different arenas also have some unique environmental hazards as well, with things like bombing runs, lasers, and even a giant freaking squid that pops up on one stage that the fighters all have to work together to defeat (or you could just ignore it ...). Anarchy Reigns is just bombastic stupid fun, and we love it.

When you figure everything out, Anarchy Reigns is one of the most fun and satisfying brawlers of recent memory. Everything is, well, crazy, and the unique character designs, huge range of fighting styles, flashy and interesting attacks, neat environments, and overall unpredictability and randomness of it all is an absolute blast. The 16-player fights can get a little overwhelming and frustrating, since there isn't really any sort of attack priority going on during combos and you can (and will) have enemies interrupting your combos by hitting you in the back while you're focusing on trying to attack someone else. You can easily get surrounded and pounded into submission, which isn't very fun, but you do learn how to assess the situations better, position yourself better, and defend better the more you play, so those situations don't happen all that often once you learn the game a little better. Thanks to the wealth of different modes that all play fairly differently and offer their own fun and satisfaction, along with the large cast of interesting characters, there is a lot to do here.

SEGA
Graphics & Sound

The presentation in Anarchy Reigns won't exactly wow you, but it all works well in the context of the game. The environments are sort of bland, but the game maintains a steady framerate even with a ton of characters onscreen, so we'll take that trade off any day. The characters, on the other hand, are nicely detailed, are all unique and easily identifiable, and have fantastic animation that makes every punch, kick, and chainsaw through the neck look great. We also really dig the sound with a fantastic soundtrack and solid (but intentionally (we hope) corny voice acting) that, again, fits the tone and context of this wild and crazy game.

Bottom Line

All in all, Anarchy Reigns is a solid brawler that we highly recommend. The solo campaign isn't particularly good, but everything else about this package is pretty much amazing. With great multiplayer, a training mode against bots, tons of game types and modes, and lots of characters to play with, you are getting a lot of game here all for just $30. We also really like how it offers the same sort of multiplayer options that popular shooters do, just in an entirely different genre, which makes it easy to jump in to and might just knock CoD or Halo down a peg. Or not. But those that do give it a chance, and put the effort to learn to play well, will have a great time with Anarchy Reigns.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
  1. About.com
  2. Computing
  3. Xbox Games
  4. Xbox 360 Reviews
  5. Anarchy Reigns Review (X360)

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.