Anarchy Reigns is a rambunctious third-person fighter in which players are required to put the gaming hours in if they hope to avoid being repeatedly trounced
Anarchy Reigns is a fighting game aimed at the hardest of the hardcore. You have to want to get good at this game, and be willing to suffer through myriad humiliations at the hands of other players before this happens.
The reason for this is that the Anarchy Reigns' core appeal is tied up in its multiplayer mode. Since this game has been for a couple of weeks, this means that the online mode is filled with players who are better than you.
Anarchy Reigns: Gameplay
We suggest you avoid the multiplayer until you've sunk a sizable chunk of your life into the single-player campaign. It's essential bolted to the proceedings as a lengthy primer on how to play Anarchy Reigns, and believe us when we tell you, it's entirely necessary.
It's here players will be allowed to beat up on an increasingly difficult AI and where they'll learn the the character animations and combat rhythms, which are essential to staying on your feet and in the fight. The game's control lay-out looks simplistic – two attacks, a grab, block, jump, weapon and special moves – but the key to success is knowing the correct timing of each deployment.
There's a 360 attack, which clears all immediate aggressors, but that takes off health so it's by no means a 'go-to' move. Hammering buttons will only get you so far in the campaign – and it won't save you at all in the multiplayer.
Anarchy Reigns: Plot & Characters
Since Anarchy Reigns requires players to partake in its single-player mode in order to learn moves and unlock many of its 18 different fighters, one would hope for a decent story and interesting missions.
What one gets instead is a plot involving Jack Cayman – the chainsaw-wielding bruiser from 2009's Wii splatter-fest MadWorld – kicking ass and taking names while melodramatically furrowing his brow over the death of his daughter.
To be frank, the attempt to infuse any inch of Anarchy Reigns with poignancy was a stupid idea, because it doesn't gel with the rest of the game, which involves tons of profanity, oodles of punch-ups and endless opportunities to use Jack's massive chainsaw to slice enemies up like sashimi. The missions themselves oscillate between giddily fun and clunkingly boring.
There are a plethora of boss battles too, some of which are remarkably unchallenging for a game made by Platinum. Still, this was the first game of recent memory that allowed us to whale on a giant squid, so that's got to be worth a recommendation, eh?
Anarchy Reigns: Multiplayer
But as was mentioned earlier, the main draw of Anarchy Reigns is its online mode. Top draw here is the 16-player Battle Royale match, which at times feels mouth-frothingly chaotic. There's also the rather fun Capture The Flag match, where scoring flag reclaims feels almost secondary to obliterating any poor soul who doesn't see you approaching from their rear.
With friends this can all be a ton of laugh-out-loud fun, but against strangers it does have the tendency to get a little gruelling. Our tip is to not take every defeat personally and decide on your level of involvement. If you want to hammer some buttons and have a laugh, temper your expectations by adding some severe beat downs.
If you want to get better, treat every defeat – and there will be many – as a learning experience. Once everything clicks, there's a palpable sense of achievement that follows like a warm afterglow.
Anarchy Reigns: Verdict
Anarchy Reigns is a thuggish, unforgiving brawler and its brutal delights will not be to everyone's tastes. If you've bought this game expecting a decent single-player experience and a multiplayer that's anything other than a baptism of fire, we hope you kept your receipt.
However, those players who are prepared to sink time into learning the game's surprisingly deep combat system and the animations for the character of their choice will probably find it esoterically appealing.
There are very few games out there that can match Anarchy Reigns in delivering the sensation that one is almost constantly battling through unbridled chaos – and that's both a good and a bad thing.
Anarchy Reigns release date: Out now
Anarchy Reigns price: £39.99