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Anarchy Reigns PS3 Review

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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Anarchy Reigns

Anarchy Reigns

Image © Sega
Released January 8, Sega's "Anarchy Reigns" is the first PS3 game of 2013 and it starts the year off on, well, a modest note. A loud one, for sure, but a somewhat uncreative one at the same time. The game is far from a complete disaster and actually produces a few visceral thrills due to its notable attempt to bring complete chaos to a genre often defined by predictability but it also feels like something of a missed opportunity to refine anarchy into something more artistically accomplished. If you just want to pound countless enemies into brutal submission or pwn your friends as the snow piles up outside, "Anarchy Reigns" has some definite value. It's really only when you consider what it could have been with a bit more development that it disappoints. In the moment, you just want to find the next enemy to pummel. And that moment is pretty fun.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Sega
  • Developer: Platinum Games
  • ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
  • Genre: Action
  • Pros: Non-stop Action, True Anarchy, Fun Characters
  • Cons: Boring Level Design, Generic Enemies, Lack of Character Variety

"Anarchy Reigns" is a brawler. It's an online multiplayer game that isn't built around wartime like so many action shooter titles. It is essentially a fighting game in that your character has special moves, combos, and items that can be picked up in the environment but it's a fighting game that has been merged with the Deathmatch experience and survival modes that we're more accustomed to in something like "Call of Duty: Black Ops II." It features some new characters along with the leads from hit Sega games "MadWorld" and "Bayonetta." The action is refined and enjoyable but the personality-less enemies, boring level design, and odd camera problems hold "Anarchy Reigns" back from its true potential.

Gameplay

Anarchy Reigns

Anarchy Reigns

Image © Sega

Most gamers will be attracted to the multiplayer portion of "Anarchy Reigns," which promises 16-player chaos and pretty much delivers on that promise. Imagine 16 competitors armed not with typical assault weapons or mortar strikes but chainsaws, supernatural powers, and other insane combat techniques. And then imagine a world that can throw itself upside down as environments become part of the challenge. You're just going along and pounding your enemies when a "runaway vehicle" plows through your back. The degree of surprise is fun but might frustrate some gamers looking for more control. The game actually lives up to its title, anarchy really does reign here and that's the best thing about the title -- the sense that you and 15 other players are diving into total anarchy.

"Anarchy Reigns" is one of those games that crumbles when one considers "what if." What if the playable characters were more refined and more distinct? Too many of them blend together, lessening the potential variety in those multiplayer arena battles. Imagine if the enemies in the surprisingly long campaign portion of the game weren't nearly identical and totally moronic. Wave after wave of enemy will charge into your chainsaw like lemmings off a cliff. What if the levels in the campaign didn't look the same? What if the story mattered at all? The chaos/anarchy is fun but the game reminds me of "Twisted Metal" in the sense that the storytelling needed more refinement to match the action.

To be fair, there are glimpses of that "MadWorld" sense of humor that should have made that great game a bigger hit and one shouldn't expect much narrative strength from a game with "Anarchy" in the title. "Anarchy Reigns" is a game that surprised me with its depth of gameplay and unique approach to multiplayer. I've played dozens of games that promised multiplayer anarchy and really just delivered a copy of the "CoD" model. "Anarchy Reigns" definitely carves its own path.

Graphics & Sound

It's a mixed bag here in that some of the animations involved in special moves or environmental surprises are stellar but the core level design is just awful. Similarly, cut scenes look great while enemies look generic. Audio is strong with an expected mix of music and mayhem.

Overall

Anarchy Reigns

Anarchy Reigns

Image © Sega
The first game of 2013 is a modestly successful one for the right audience. It won't break any molds or appeal too far from its genre but it worked better than I expected given the multiple delays, off-season release date, and the number of generic multiplayers I've played over the years. I'll come back to "Anarchy Reigns" and enjoy the insanity.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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