Anarchy Reigns PS3 review – The reluctant king of generic scrappers

Anarchy Reigns PS3 review

Never has a game offered a more candid, warts-and-all description of its experience in the title than Anarchy Reigns. A brawler in the vein of PS2 cult classic God Hand, Platinum’s latest effort ballsily squares up to polished, homogenous gaming – but emerges from the fray less than victorious.

Anarchy Reigns PS3 review

It again highlights the studio’s strength when it comes to delivering juicy, compelling melee combat – but also its inability (in this instance, at least) to build a coherent or distinctive experience out of a solid core scrap.

Anarchy Reigns ps3 reviewThat’s not to say Anarchy Reigns doesn’t have its appeal: namely, extravagant melee fighting powered by involving controls, spread over a decent swathe of multiplayer modes and solo play. It feels like button-bashing at first: beneath your thumbs are heavy and medium attack buttons, jump, guard, throw and a burst attack. They’re basic tools that evolve as you notice the effect of timing – Leo, one of the solo campaign’s primary characters, follows up his basic punch with a step back and driving kick when you time two taps of square just right, for example.

This and similar attacks are discovered by noodling around during missions rather than spoon-fed by tutorials, and that approach always gets you points when we’re counting. Particularly useful are moves that scatter enemies – pressing X and Square together gives you a handy 360º attack, and hitting heavy attack on the way up and down from a jump is a particularly handy crowd-control technique. Exploring and eventually mastering the controls is the meat in Anarchy Reigns’ sandwich – it’s lacking inspired Platinum touches like Vanquish’s kneeslide, but there’s enough depth to justify hanging around for the next wave of foes.

The camera’s a wayward chap, though. It’s free by default, but lets you lock on to one unlucky chump by tapping Circle. All too often, though, it wants to veer into wildly unhelpful angles when you’re near a wall, and while locking on does help to maintain a reliable view, fixing on the enemy you want is a battle in itself. It’s a real problem in a game where a mere one-on-twenty brawl isn’t chaotic enough – nope, in that scenario you’re often carpet-bombed from above too.

Platinum has been sensible not to supercharge high-level players too much in multiplayer, where the game is most coherent and enjoyable, and the lack of any upgrades bar a few online perks such as auto throw-counters means you do technically have a chance against hardened veterans online in your first fight… in the same way Rebecca Black technically has a chance to silence those haters and release a staggering comeback hit. Like the maligned songstress, you’re severely limited by your own abilities – until you learn to recognise the split-second when you can actually get a jab in.