QCF: Anarchy Reigns

latinum Games has been busy going into 2013. Spearheading upcoming releases like Bayonetta 2 and The Wonderful 101 along with staying on track with their collaborative efforts with Konami on Metal Gear Rising: Revengance, there was another title too. What was it again? Oh yeah, that multiplayer beat’em up, Anarchy Reigns.

The action multiplayer-focused title delivers the punches and fan-service for fans of Madworld and Bayonetta, the expectations for a multiplayer title centered on character action combat incited quite a depth of potential considering the studio behind the reigns. The genre of arena based fighters always bring a new element to direct combat that distinguish it from traditional fighting games. More often than not, games which come to mind when one thinks of this category is Power Stone or Super Smash Bros. Whenever the topic enters discussion, Anarchy Reigns tries to expand on this formula.

The end result, however, is a wasteland of missed opportunities populated with rough gameplay that contains a dearth of personality to round out the full circle of disappointment that is Anarchy Reigns.

It may seem hasty to scorn Platinum’s brawler, but it’s the poor and lazy execution of the promising concept of AR that sets it at a disadvantage from the start.

Let’s discuss what the game gets right: The core mechanics that make up the multiplayer are built with the framework of several modern multiplayer conventions. Wide ranging maps with tower in both altitude and longitude in architecture, passive characters traits and enhancements to specific base stats that benefit certain classes over others, and Perks that also boost both stats and abilities; it’s all here. The modes are fairly varied as well, with your standard Deathmatch and Capture the Flag with the team spin also being available. The other modes are a bit unexpected like the one on one Cage match, which is nice for those who want to keep things simple and just have a go one on one in the traditional fighting setup, but the cage environment simply acts as a border and plays no other environmental role; it’s a bit of a letdown.

Then there’s Deathball; the name says it all, doesn’t it? It's team deathmatch with an element of sport beyond termination, resembling a mash of lethal rugby with soccer liberties that plays to the strength of extra aggression with ability to break someone’s face and not be penalized for it. Visuals are some of the best I’ve seen from Platinum, as it seamlessly upgrades the Madworld art style into full-featured details models and vistas, immaculately rendered and detailed to a great detail that would color Unreal 3 green considering that it’s in-house.

All these factors considered, Anarchy Reigns holds all of the advantages it needs to deliver on the experience that it initially promises in concept. It’s the follow-through that ends up breaking the back of multiplayer foundation.

The core combat mechanics drag the experience through the mud before anything else. Regardless of coherency within the multiplayer, the combat itself is sloppy and clunky at best.

Platinum is practically famous for implementing innovative takes on character-driven combat and skill input through a variety of button combinations, which is completely lacking in this game. The physics and kinetics into direct attacks have no real flow, and combination attacks feel weak with no fluidity or grace to resonate with. When you face against another opponent, your perks and items will usually be the best advantage to securing victory, as the skill or character prowess are so insignificant to factor in that it’s almost arbitrary.

To be clear, there are slight differences in the skillset for the character roster when it comes to combat, but they're pretty miniscule. Attack, speed, and size are the only variances in play. For heavy influence on multiplayer, Anarchy Reigns also has some of the worst matchmaking assembled in online play. There are plenty of options, but not enough support to enforce some of the fundamentals of fair play. For example, you can segregate pings for upcoming player matches by region, but you’re lucky if you catch more than two. Removing the region restriction allows free roam to other players, but unfortunately disregards stat levels and skillsets during matchmaking.

Keep in mind that this title has been available overseas for almost an entire year before North America saw a release. This Means there's a high probability that you’ll face against high level players and be your own team’s albatross for score if you’re rocking team play, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Because of how primitive the matchmaking is, the fun and madness of frenzied combat is quickly cut down to this one-dimensional exercise of rinsing and repeating the few matches you can join until you reach a peak in your abilities that will allow you to stand a chance. The multiplayer is a chore all around.

The campaign is unfortunately just as -- if not even more -- uninspired in its structure than the online play. You can play as either Jack, who returns from Madworld, or newcomer Leo as you fight through an open world area where you pick up missions to complete and build up experience that unlocks a story mission. You’ll find yourself constantly replaying missions. The missions are never anything more than either a race around the area, an escort mission, or some conditioned combat sequence and it’s just sooo dull. If you manage to trudge through the monotonous course of tepid fight after fight thenyou’ll be greeted with a transition in difficulty, a spectacularly stupid transition.

Campaign mode will eventually hit a spontaneous difficulty curve and gets hard, ruthlessly hard, and with no way to equip perks or enhance stats in any way, it’s just your wits to get you through battles with dumb button mashing and a keen eye for items; that’s it. This is the crazy style and presentation you’d expect, especially considering that these were characters that have so much personality when first introduced in Madworld feel so forced in the roles they play, and the exposition towards whatever the hell is exactly going on is dry. Other than some brief bursts of emphasis on Jack’s or Leo’s motives that provide a little bit of incentive to continue, there’s nothing else about the presentation that helps you overlook the blandness in Anarchy Reigns.

This title may have an attractive price point at just $30, but the flair of its concept and gameplay in motion barely lasts long enough to warrant the price of admission. It’s not a terrible game, it’s just so boring. It's even lazy in execution.

If you need an action fix and you’ve played everything available, then all I can say is good luck with this mess; it doesn’t come recommended.

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