One of the no-shows at E3 2012 was Anarchy Reigns by Sega and Platinum Games. A demo came out a few weeks ago on the Japanese Playstation store and Xbox Live Marketplace, and those who have those accounts can to try out this crazy competitive fighter. This is not your traditional fighting game, however. I'd classify this game as more of a brawler, even though it is has a mix of action and fighting game elements. It might be hard to describe Anarchy Reigns, Max Anarchy for folks that live in Japan at first glance, due to how insane it is, but once you get a hang of the gameplay and controls, it is pretty fun. Anarchy Reigns brings that Platinum Games flair seen in games like Vanquish and Bayonetta. It is a shame that this game has no official American release yet, even though it is coming out in Japan next month, so I hope Sega reconsiders that since the demo is such a blast to play.
The demo is surprisingly filled with enough content for players to keep going until the game releases in Japan with single-player and multiplayer modes. A nice bonus for English folks that have Japanese XBL or PSN accounts is that there are language options in the main menu, so the game can be played in English. There is also a decent tutorial that is a must-play for players to get accustomed to the basic mechanics and controls. The major single-player portions of the demo consist of two sections with two different characters. You play as Jack from MadWorldin the black side portion, while you play as newcomer Leo for the white side. Jack’s level is a rival battle against Baron, but Leo’s level is a little longer and shows off what the single-player campaign will generally be about. This part takes place in an open-world part of the campaign, as Leo can freely beat up enemies before taking on optional or mandatory missions. It offers a good taste of what the campaign can potentially be, since it will have a crazy story in typical Platinum fashion. The multiplayer component, though, is the bread and butter of Anarchy Reigns and is way more fun than I thought it could be.
Anarchy Reigns’ online multiplayer is quite simply refreshing and fun, especially compared to the oversaturation of shooters here in the States. For the demo, there are deathmatch and team deathmatch options, but more objective-based modes are expected to be in the final game. Deathmatches incorporate four players in a smaller map, while team deathmatches can involve up to eight players in a larger map and bots will jump in if human players leave early. A big roster awaits players for the final version, but a decent chunk of them are playable in this demo, including Jack, Leo, Baron, and more. Even the goals are traditionally the same—get a certain number of kills or have the most within the time limit—it is the chaos and insanity, however, that makes every game crazy and different. Randomized hazards will occur throughout the game, like airstrikes hitting every player, smart bombs, drones crashing the party, poison gas that drains your health, etc. Some of these hazards can be a bit distracting, especially when you’re in a chaotic situation against one or multiple opponents, but it is tolerable due to how generally insane the game tends to be. In addition, certain objects such as tires, broken cars and signs can be used as weapons. For example, throwing a tire at an opponent can immobilize them for a limited time. Items also randomly appear in the form of punchable slots such as shields, sniper rifles, rocket launchers, and grenades. Of course, the guns are strictly optional—not mean to be your main focus of offense. In addition, vehicles will come out at random times, giving players the ability to hijack them and use them to their advantage (perhaps even throwing it for good laughs). While I enjoy the random nature of the multiplayer in Anarchy Reigns, as it keeps games original and intense, the core fighting still matters if you want to be successful online.
The controls in Anarchy Reigns are what you expect from a Japanese action game, with light and heavy attacks, a modifier for more devastating moves and grabs. Heavy attacks also act as launchers to get combos started and mixing in the killer modifiers will result in nasty damage against the opposition. Mixing up light attacks with grabs is also another great tactic to trick opponents online. Pressing the light attack and jump at the same time allows players to execute a "get off me" move if caught in a hairy situation, but it will cost a bit of health. A lock-on mechanic keeps players focused on the opponent they want to beat up, but it can be a double-edged sword when the camera gets in the way of the action, especially if things are in your favor. The camera can be a problem when things get too chaotic at times, as well. In traditional Japanese action-game fashion, players can activate Rampage mode if the meter is full which will cause them to go nuts on the opposition for a limited time. Each playable character in either the campaign or multiplayer have a unique style, yet control the same. Jack, for example, is slower than Leo but deals out better damage. If you want to play as an quicker, more aggressive character, Leo is your guy. In multiplayer team deathmatch, there is an ability system where players can enable certain perks such as dealing more damage when near death, or not letting the "get off me" move cost health to execute. The fighting system is simple for players to pick up, but there is also hidden depth once you mess around with the mechanics more.
Based on the great demo, Anarchy Reigns is shaping up to be another great game from Platinum Games. It will be filled with lots of content for players to keep going for weeks and even months, as indicated by the launch trailer above. While the campaign is going be a blast to play through—experiencing the crazy storyline the developers come up with—the online multiplayer contains even more fun and insanity, especially with the numerous random elements going on. The game is easy to pick up and play, while deep at the same time with the amount of options any character can pull off. The roster is stylish and diverse and it is nice to see characters from previous Platinum games making the jump to this one in some form. Bayonetta is even making a playable appearance in the final game for fans that want to play as her again. There is still no official word from Sega whether or not Anarchy Reigns will come out state-side, but I hope it does since this demo is getting high praise from players and Platinum fans that have enjoyed their previous games. If you have a Japanese Xbox Live or Playstation Store account, Anarchy Reigns is definitely worth trying out and it made me want to import it next month.