Tough Guy, Huh?
If the idea of a massive brawl set to amazing rap music sounds interesting, then Anarchy Reigns might be the game for you. Slamming its way onto Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, this is one of the defining meetings of boot and bum in videogame history, an online fighting game from the creators behind classics like Bayonetta and God Hand. In fact, that almost undersells Anarchy Reigns. This is the Colosseum of bum-kicking, and by God it is brilliant.
Anarchy Reigns offers up not one but two sizeable single-player campaigns (Light & Dark) that introduce most of its roster, usually by having you plant their face into a nearby surface. The environments are gigantic, and range from chunks of ruined cities to aircraft carriers, all of which are tied together by zooming jump pads, teleporters and airlifts. Every one is jammed full of crazy stuff that happens during fights: escaped trucks crashing through the battleground, planes crashing, Krakens rising, and hurricanes blowing.
Here's a typical mission description: "Jack meets up with the Baron. But their male bonding session is interrupted by a ninja assault!" Anarchy Reigns' single-player doesn't mess about and massive brawls make up the majority of the campaign, but there are also one-offs like hanging from a helicopter while firing its gun, or drop-kicking giant bowling balls through hapless thugs.
In total, there are 18 player characters available, and though they have distinct styles the controls are shared across all and are fairly simple; the most important thing is that any fighter's basic combos can be instantly enlivened by their 'killer weapon'. You know, little things like a chainsaw or lightsab- light sword, sorry.
Anarchy Reigns introduces a unique rhythm to third-person combat with its multiplayer element - in singleplayer games like Bayonetta, long combos are what you strive to master. But here there needs to be more back-and-forth, so every character has a 360° attack which costs a little health but clears out the immediate area. Flowing and devastating combos are still a part of Anarchy Reigns, but fighting between decent players tends to involve shorter, more explosive flurries.
It's a brutal world online, and your first few brawls will likely end in crushing defeat. But this is when Anarchy Reigns separates the men from the boys - mastering its combat is all about keeping your head in the midst of a tornado, and punching off someone else's. The huge depth of the controls starts to come to the fore, as you learn the precise timings involved in blocking or dodging, when to wait, and when to really let loose. Basically, you'll have to choke down a few knuckle sandwiches before you're ready to hand out your own.
Is it worth it? Is it ever. Online, Anarchy Reigns swiftly becomes magnificent, the fights going all the way from Rocky-style comebacks to Royal Rumble extravaganzas atop skyscrapers. Sometimes it is literally chaos: all you can see is dust and limbs, a flying truck sails by, and the next thing you know there's a pole sticking out of your head. It happens. Sometimes you're on top, and sometimes you're not.
The core action of Anarchy Reigns is fantastic, and as you'd expect from PlatinumGames this is matched by a wealth of unlockables, and an incredible OST: vocals delivered with machine-gun speed over pounding synthesizers, it turns out, is a great soundtrack for a ruck.
Anarchy Reigns is the kind of game that never lets up, offering a huge and challenging single-player campaign alongside a set of matchmaking modes that keep changing the rules around. Online it can put you in big team battles, or objective-based modes that play out like a kind of ultra-violent rugby match - and it even spices things up with the odd one-on-one cage match.
The developers of Anarchy Reigns, PlatinumGames, are responsible for some of the best fighting games in history. Add one more to the list. Anarchy Reigns is one of the most satisfying and deep brawlers you'll ever play, the kind of virtual world that swallows your focus entirely. In other words, it's an absolute knockout.
- Deep and rewarding combat!
- During natural disasters!
- An amazing OST
- Characters need unlocking
- No local multiplayer
- That's it!