Anarchy Reigns – Xbox 360
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Platinum Games
Release Date: Jan 8,, 2013
Genre: Action
Reviewed by Jason Flick

Review Score: 4 of 5

Platinum Games seems to be on their “A” game with the release of Anarchy Reigns for Xbox 360 this week. I have to say that I enjoyed a brutally satisfying brawler that continuously throws hordes of enemies at you in a world that’s one more carpet bombing away from being a… wasteland. Oh right, that’s pretty much the summary of the world in which Jack Cayman lives in.

Anarchy Reigns could be easily described as a sequel to the 2009 Wii exclusive MadWorld which features the same dual chainsaw-wielding Chaser. This time you can play the single player experience, either the biker garbed Jack or the arm-blade wielding pretty boy Leo. Each offers two very distinct play styles while navigating the same locales. Anarchy’s main focus however is actually in its online multiplayer though I wouldn’t jump into that until you have a good grasp on the combat.

The combat in Anarchy Reigns could easily be summed up as a button masher where you pummel your enemies until they blow up or turn into a blue puddle, but there are some tactics required to being successful in the long haul as I quickly found out. If you choose to learn the ropes via the single player, you’ll find that most enemies can be dispatched with a few well placed punches or chainsaw hits. As you progress further though it is quickly apparent that using blocks and evades are crucial to avoid being K.O.’d at the worst moment. I don’t know how many times I would be doing just fine up until the point that 4+ Executioner behemoths would rush me at once and I’d get trounced thoroughly.

The single player is broken up into four stages and progression is fuelled by a point system. For every enemy you defeat you come that much closer to unlocking one of the three side or main missions by the way of experience points. Once you complete all three main missions you get treated to some good old-fashioned wisecracks mixed with few moments of sorrow and remorse before heading off for your next locale. The cast banter of this little romp happens to be one of my favorite parts about Anarchy Reigns aside from chainsawing mutants in half.

One of the things that makes Anarchy Reigns live up to its name and keeps players on their toes is the A.T.E, or Action Trigger Events that can pop up at any time, both in the single player venue as well as the multiplayer modes which I’ll cover in a second. Among these events that spawn to make every mission and multiplayer match different are runaway semis, carpet bombings and black holes, just to name a few.

To make things even more interesting players get access to power-ups throughout each level by way of slot machine boxes or random chest-carrying enemies that spawn periodically. These range from health packs and triggered shields to full on rampage triggers and my personal favorite, the sniper rifle. The only drawback is that once activated you can’t use your chainsaw until the item is depleted. There are also five blue safes half-hidden around each stage to find to collect concept art and other goodies as you go through the campaign.

I have to say that I really enjoyed the single player with all its quirks but the real lasting power of Anarchy Reigns is found in its online multiplayer modes. While pummeling computer AI foes into oblivion is a blast, it’s no substitute for butting heads with other real players for top bragging rights. This is where anarchy truly reigns as you can compete in everything from classic deathmatch and team deathmatch to the crazy blend of brutality and sports with Death Ball. One of my favorite modes is Battle Royale where everyone is your enemy and there’s no such thing as safe. It’s up to you to stay one step ahead of the others and two steps ahead of the calamity in a 16-player hell on earth battle. One of the best parts about the multiplayer as a whole is that you can level up any one of the 16 different characters that you’ll have available to you after getting through the campaign. If you join the many ranked players around the world you’ll be put in evenly balanced team-based or free-for-all matches which is pretty cool.

As I said before, I really did enjoy the campaign, especially seeing some of my favorite characters from MadWorld brought over into the world of color; a world that screams disorder. The stages that you’ll see in both the campaign and multiplayer are beautifully designed shells of what was probably once prominent locales. Of all the places Jack or Leo will travel, I have to say that I liked Hong Long the best with its rather neo-Chinese visuals. The environments and characters may not be the most polished creations in gaming, but I think it suits the game perfectly and the cutscenes sprinkled throughout the campaigns are easily my favorite parts.

The real treat to Anarchy Reigns is the awesome voice actors attached to this project including industry vets Steve Blum(Jack), Yuri Lowenthal(Zero) and Stephanie Sheh(Rin Rin) to name a few. Steve’s role as Jack is one of the main reasons that I love this game so much. If awesome vocals wasn’t enough the score to this game is insanely awesome. I love everything from jazzy tune on the menu screen to the hip-hop/rap that keeps you pumped from the first punch to the last beatdown.

What surprised me the most about Anarchy Reigns is that it hits shelves this week with a price tag of only $30 dollars. Sure, the game lacks some polish here and there and I thought that after viewing the opening static scrolling backstory that this review was going to go downhill fast. But the truth is I really enjoyed Anarchy Reigns on a number of levels. The combat is brutally fun, the online was addictive and the music and voice acting rocked. There’s not much more that I could ask for in a brawler following in the steps of MadWorld. If you love chainsaws, a few pretty girls and a whole lot of mayhem, I definitely recommend checking out Anarchy Reigns for the Xbox 360.