Although it was strongly promoted as an online multiplayer game, Anarchy Reigns does have a single player campaign mode; there’s 3 of them to be exact. One of the campaigns stars Wii-exclusive MadWorld’s main character, Jack Cayman as the protagonist. Cayman is a chaser; a hitman-like character where he chases people to kill them. As with most PlatinumGames, the story is pretty straightforward with PlatinumGames’ usual quirkyness. Obviously, you’ll need to go through all 3 campaigns to make sense of it all. Without taking away anything from this amazing development team, the story is not going draw you to the game.
After the initial sequence in a bar that resulted in Jack to be on the receiving end of an electrified punch from baddy Nikolai Dmitri Bulygin, you get to choose between Black and White. If you choose Black, you’ll play through Jack’s campaign and if you choose white, you’ll play as pretty boy Leonhardt “Leo” Victorion. Both Jack and Leo are looking for Maximillain Caxton; but for different reasons. Once you’re done with both Black and White campaign, you’ll unlock the Red campaign.
Jack Cayman is hired by a young lady to find her father, Maximillian Caxton. Without divulging too much, Max left a big scar in Jack’s life and even before Caxton’s daughter asked to look for her old man, our chainsaw-wielding chaser was already on his way to hunt Caxton senior.
Leo is Maximillian’s former protegee and Jack’s rival. The pretty boy is also trying to find Caxton senior to get some answers. Seeing as reviews are spoilers-free, you’ll have to play it to figure out; you get a better understanding as everything unfolds.
Character models look great in cinematics. Its not as great as PlatinumGames’ previous work in Vanquish and Bayonetta, but it’s still look good. However, the world feels pretty bland and empty. Except for the elevators you’ll see continously going up and down, there’s nothing that feels alive in the background. It does remind me of Borderlands’ environments; just lifeless.
Unlike Bayonetta, the gameplay and combo mechanics of Anarchy Reigns are quite simple and pretty straightforward. Here’s a quick overview of the controls:
- X is for Light Attacks
- Y is for Heavy Attacks
- B is for Grabs
- A: for Jump
- RB/RT will block (if you hit A while holding, you will dodge and roll)
- LB allows you to target an enemy
- LT brings out your chainsaw (Jack) / blades (Leo)
- Clicking both Joystick will trigger Rampage Mode
PlatinumGames had the idea of adding a tutorial mode, however it’s not that relevant. Anyone can just jump in and bust heads. The only reason to do the Tutorial would be for an easy Achievement. The game consists of beating up baddies to accumulate XP for unlocking missions and bonus stats for the multiplayer modes. It’s pretty simple: at the beginning of every chapter, you’re thrown into a semi-open world where you punch and jump kick rushing enemies to gain XP points that will unlock the next mission. Each stage is divided into 6 missions: 3 Free missions and 3 Main missions. The Free missions will allow you to cumulate points quickly to unlock the next Main mission in the story line. And the Main missions will progress the storyline.
The Free missions have a little bit of variety to them. Some will have you beating X amounts of enemies in Y amount of time while others will ask you to do 5 laps before time expires. You can replay them at anytime for additional XP.
On the other hand, main missions usually require facing off against one of the multiple (and colorful) character from the Anarchy Reigns universe and some returning characters from MadWorld. One of the interesting mechanics of the game is that sometimes during a Main Mission you’ll come across a character you’ve previously defeated and they will lend you a hand against the newest baddy you’re matched with. It’s nice for a change to outnumber your enemy, but it can make a few missions too easy while they’ll come in quite handy against certain bosses. To spice things up, sometimes you’ll be able to choose between two or three characters. Another little detail I’ve enjoyed throughout the game is before facing off with a Main mission baddy, you’ll get a face-off screen (likc the Versus screen from Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat) and both guys just talk smack.
Both Jack and Leo have two different play style’s. Jack is big and bulky and feels like a 3D version of Final Fight’s Mike Haggar; using brute force to pound enemies into dust. On the other hand Leo feels more like Cody or Guy; with quick and fast combos.
The sheer joy of shredding enemies with Jack’s chainsaw or activating Rampage mode to pound a giant baddy into dust is pure unadulterated fun. For bigger enemies, if you inflict a certain amount of damage, they’ll be vulnerable to be executed. Sadly, it’s the same method Jack uses everytime. A nice variety would have a gone a long way. Certain enemies are using vehicles and you can use them to your advantage. You can also pick various things you’ll find in every stage and use them as weapons: poles, cars, motorcycles, tires; among other things.
You can also pick up weapons or power-ups. You can carry 2 at any time; they vary from flame grenades to a protective bubble. It does make for a nice diversion and they can be pretty helpful in dire situations.
Activating Rampage Mode gives you roughly 2 minutes of invincibility; quite practical against bosses or bigger baddies.
Depending under which circumstances you are, when you die one of two things happen: In Free Mode, you respawn at the same spot giving you the opportunity to pick back up your power ups if you had any. Also all enemies have been removed. If you die during a Free Mission, you have to start over. Most Free Missions will offer only 1 retry whilst most Main Missions offer 3 retries.
Throughout the game, you’ll be able to unlock Multiplayer stats used to boost your characters by accomplishing certain requirements (ex: beat 100 enemies without getting hit) and each boss you defeat will be unlocked and ready to use in every multiplayer modes.
The main issue with the game is the balance. Some enemies are either too easy or too “hard”. You’ll come across a main mission boss and just by spamming the Heavy Attack button (Y button), you’ll beat them fast and easy, but on the other end you’ll come across a sub-boss in a Free Mission and they’ll have ultra powerful and unstoppable attacks resulting a quick death….which can be frustrating when you just plowed through 99 other enemies before and have to start over.
Another gameplay design I found annoying is, sometimes during Free Roam or a Free Mission, an unstoppable object will become a nuisance. Either a runaway 10 Wheeler will plow through the stage or countless jets will drop bombs. You can’t do anything except dodge and if you can’t dodge in time, they do massive amount of damage resulting in death 95% of the time.
The in-combat dialog is pretty standard fare, with the F word being very much prominent among other curse words. The cinematics dialog is pretty interesting and goofball and will give you a few laughs. The soundtrack of the game is pretty solid and interesting. The tracks fit the game really well. Here are 2 tracks for your listening pleasure:
Playing for Keeps:
Achievement addicts may want to replay the whole game to add an additional 1000G to their gamerscore and get everything unlocked. The sheer variety of multiplayer modes may keep you entertained for a while but don’t expect this game to beat Call of Duty Black Ops II in Xbox Live Leaderboards.
The game is a prime example of Style over Substance. Unlike Vanquish and Bayonetta, PlatinumGames’ latest isn’t as deep, but it’s still very fun. You’ll enjoy the roughly 6 hour ride; and unless you’re a completionist, you probably won’t replay the campaign. As far as the multiplayer goes, if you dedicate yourself in leveling up your character, you’ll find yourself going back to the diversified competitive modes. This is the perfect game to tide you over until the upcoming slew of great games and for the $30 (approx £20) price tag, it’s a great investment. You should get about 6 hours of the campaigns and depending on your dedication to online components, you could spend a few hours online; which makes this game a great return on investment If you miss old school beat’em ups like Double Dragon, Final Fight or Streets of Rage, I recommend you give Anarchy Reigns a go.