Clench your fist around a stick of dynamite, light the fuse, then punch yourself dead in the face within the millisecond of detonation – that’s what it’s like to play a 16 player free-for-all match in Anarchy Reigns, a cerebral explosion of competitive pugilism developed by the same talented team, formerly known as Clover Studio, who brought us Vanquish and Bayonetta (games that were critically acclaimed yet sold criminally less than contaminated fruit bundles). With its Japanese eccentricity, vulgarity, linear and seemingly incoherent single-player narrative, and steep learning curve for multiplayer, Anarchy will somersault directly over the interests of the casual gamer; but for adventurous individuals who love a frantic and, most importantly, fun beat-em-up , this title is a generous bestowment from the most creative zones of our game developers’ imaginations.
Unlike most blockbuster games (other than the Call of Duty franchise) of this console generation that are built around a single-player campaign that moderately excels at including a thigh-gripping storyline, muscular and/or seductively scanty protagonists (I love you, Bayonetta), and motivations for conflict that are clear and sympathetic to the audience, Anarchy was developed to consistently entertain with an unpredictable multiplayer component. The campaign is simply there to familiarize you with the basic and advanced fighting mechanics so that you may become more adept at accepting and defending your mortality online. Because of this, I will focus solely on the multiplayer, the reason why this game begs to be experienced (and falcon-punched.)
Anarchy is a third-person brawler, pure yet complex. Its gameplay is similar to Bayonetta’s in that you accost enemies with your fists and feet, except instead of concentrating on stringing hundred-hit combos together, it makes you master the art of tactical reservation – knowing how to perform short but powerful combinations that give your enemy the chance to counter and you the opportunity to evade. In a match against another player with skill, this exchange of attack and defense incorporates strategy into your fighting pattern (as does knowing when to flee for the hills).
The online battles are the culmination of your inner ten-year-old’s wildest aspirations: Planes nose dive into the dilapidated city, destroying all players who are haphazardly throwing dukes within its crash radius; a ninja battles a cyborg in a one-on-one cage match for limited supremacy; and a creepily voiced evildoer with a leg that transforms into a heavy projectile launcher performs handstands as he blasts his victims into irrelevance. To summarize this pandemonium, Anarchy Reigns is an unadulterated, continuous climax where players with the quickest reflexes and greatest understanding of the fighting system will arrogantly flourish. And because the experience is a refreshing break from the provisions first-person-shooters offer, it’s at least worth a try.
Subjective Recommendation: For $29.99, this gem is more fun than most games twice its price. If you’re down for brutal, fantastical online gameplay that’s accentuated by a paramount soundtrack, join the Anarchy (and let it REIGN!).
Objective Recommendation: The campaign is asymmetrically lacking to the multiplayer, the graphics aren’t as crisp as most gamers’ expectations, and many won’t have the patience to learn the subtleties of the fighting system in a competitive online atmosphere. Yet, the fun factor glimmers through these flaws. Do more research, if interested, or definitely rent.
Standout Element: The soundtrack. The rapid-fire hip hop, jazz, techno, and orchestral fits perfectly.