Anarchy Reigns Preview Hands On
The gameplay is solid, if formulaic. Anarchy Reigns is a brawler to the core. You know the drill: light attack, heavy attack, block, grab, and the obligatory rage meter.
Anarchy Reigns was available in two places and forms at E3. Sega held meetings behind closed doors for a demonstration of the Anarchy Reigns' single player campaign. The main attraction was saved for the show floor where networked PS3s allowed four attendees to battle it out in the game’s marquee multiplayer mode.
Sega was one of my first appointments at the show so my initial impression was gauged by the single player component. I’m a huge fan of Platinum Games so I went into the meeting with high expectations. That expectation was quickly tempered, though. The single player seems as if it is only a training ground for the multiplayer. That would be fine if that was how it was advertised, a la Chromehounds but the developers and PR reps were working hard to sell the single player as a complete addition to the final product.
To be sure, there is obvious effort towards that goal, and it shows. There is a storyline. I’m not sure what it is about exactly, but absurdist storytelling is a part of the Platinum Games story telling in general. The single player can be played as two different characters that offer different perspectives on what is largely the same narrative. There is golden dialogue, like when Jack (of Madworld fame) spouts “It ain’t the tool compadre. It’s how you fuck people up with it,” when referring to his chainsaw equipped arm. I was then shown the narrative sequence, after which the PR rep chimed in to add that “The story is quite serious, and deep.” Yeah… I wouldn’t call it serious or deep, compadres.
The gameplay is solid, if formulaic. Anarchy Reigns is a brawler to the core. You know the drill: light attack, heavy attack, block, grab, and the obligatory rage meter. It works to be sure, but so far lacks the hook of Madworld’s scoring mechanic. It felt hollow, which is strange for a Platinum game. However I knew that I wasn’t seeing the best part of the game. From the beginning, Platinum has been very vocal in saying that Anarchy Reigns is their take on a great multiplayer component, a feature that is traditionally lacking from Japanese developers.
Luckily, I made it down to the show floor to play Anarchy Reigns as it was meant to be played. I watched one match before I jumped into the fray. The game certainly looked fun: four people in one absolute free for all brawl. Anarchy Reigns reminds me of Power Stone, but in a third person perspective. The moves the characters executed looked sufficiently brutal and there is a satisfying pace to the gameplay. The life bars are long enough to allow a comeback in a fight. Items are periodically dropped onto the field as well, and can quickly even the playing field, a la Smash Brothers.
As fun as the game looked, once I had the controller in my hands I grew worried again. I noticed the camera moving slowly. That’s a big problem when trying to keep track of multiple enemies. There is a lock on feature as well, but it too is troubled in that it only locks onto a target that is in view of your screen, this, compounded with the slow swinging camera makes retreating particularly difficult. If the lock button simply cycled through nearby targets it might alleviate the situation.
On the whole, Anarchy Reigns isn't quite up to par with other Platinum Games, but it's still wroth a shot. Though it's flawed, particularly with the camera speeds, it could still provide a fun and satisfying multiplayer experience.