“Anarchy Reigns” is a competently made but mediocre and forgettable niche game.
It is a 3-D beat-em-up and the newest release from niche company Platinum Games. The game was first released in Japan for the PS3 and Xbox 360 back in July 2012 but wasn’t released here until just last week, explaining its budget price of $30.
This is the hardest kind of game to write a review for because it lacks the highs and lows worth mentioning in reviews of other games, be they good or bad. I could write paragraph after paragraph talking about the game in extreme detail, but that would be incredibly boring for all involved.
The word “competent” will be thrown around a lot in this theoretical review, because overall “Anarchy Reigns” doesn’t do anything that bad, with a few exceptions, but at the same time it doesn’t really do anything to make it stand out. Graphics, gameplay, voice acting and story are all competently done, but the game just seems to lack that last intangible bit that makes something worth playing.
It’s like watching a Judd Apatow movie; the first time you see one it’s charming and quirky—an amusing, if forgettable, way to pass the time—like watching “Talladega Nights” or “Step Brothers.”
But by the time you’ve seen three or four of his movies, patterns emerge, the charm fades, the quirkiness becomes grating and predictable, and you find yourself just wanting it to end so you can go do something else—like watch “This is 40.”
“Anarchy Reigns” is the video game equivalent of watching “This is 40.”
It handles its niche, and I’m sure some people will enjoy it a great deal, but the populace as a whole will either ignore it, or quickly tire of it and move on to something else.
The game handles itself well enough for a budget title game belonging to the 3-D beat-em-up genre. It suffers from the typical control issues plaguing those kinds of games that anyone with even a passing knowledge of the genre will be familiar with: getting attacks to hit an enemy, which is partially fixed with a lock-on system that solves some issues but creates others when you’re trying to lock-on to a specific opponent, and seeing an enemy because of the camera placement within the game.
“Anarchy Reigns” does have two problems that are big enough to be worth mentioning: The unlocking of addition content in game, such as additional characters and levels for multi-player and new missions, and the game’s multi-player.
The gameplay involved in the single player campaign is very shallow and repetitive, and completing a mission does not guarantee that you can progress to the next part of the game, or unlock more multi-player content.
If you fail a mission or even if you complete it but don’t score high enough, you will be forced to replay through previously beaten sections until your score is high enough to unlock new material. I beat the first mission in the single player campaign on my first try, but had to beat it twice to get my score high enough to unlock the game’s second single-player mission. There’s a difference between encouraging players to replay something and forcing them to.
Encouraging someone to replay a level for some kind of incentive, be it to unlock a power up, get a new playable character etc., is fun. Forcing someone to replay a level they already beat so they can progress into the game is not.
The other big problem with “Anarchy Reigns” is its complete lack of local multi-player. If you want to play with the game’s biggest drawing point, the multi-player component, you will need a high-speed Internet connection and several friends with their own systems and copies of the game.
The game is a niche title at best. I don’t expect to find a lot of people playing it online, and this problem will only get worse over time as interest in the title diminishes. I wouldn’t be surprised if it became impossible to find enough people to play a 16-man Battle Royale match six months from now.
“Anarchy Reigns” isn’t a bad game. It is competently made and I’m sure some people will have a blast with it, but there are just so many other games out there worth playing that it’s hard to recommend this to anyone but a fan of this niche sub-genre.
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