Anarchy Reigns PS3 review – The reluctant king of generic scrappers
Combat moves with a cadence that, like it or not, gives one player control of another for what feels like a million miserable years before you’re able to roll to safety or get your guard up. Great in one-on-one cage fights, but many modes, such as three-way capture the flag and team deathmatch, support 16 players – all trying to punch your head at the same time.
This is where Platinum fulfils the ‘anarchy’ part of the proposition. You can have all the skill in the world, time an attack perfectly, lick your lips in anticipation of the combo you’ve laid the foundation for, and still fall victim to a chainsaw to the gizzard and watch your kill get stolen. More opportunity to cancel and counter would help form some order in the chaos, as would clearer indications of when players are engaged with someone else and can’t be hurt by you.
To its credit, the developer knows to give you what you’re after (ie, the punching) up front, and not to BS you with too many unlocks. All moves are available right away, although the full roster of 18 fighters extends as you cream through solo missions – even if they can for the most part be split down the middle into ‘fast’ and ‘slow’. The solo campaign keeps you in a battle arena even when you’re not in a mission – and markers pop up within those arenas, so you have to murder your way through a bucketful of enemies just to reach them.
‘Action trigger events’ like falling bombs or gas attacks throw (pretty irritating) curveballs, too. End result? The chaos is all-pervading, scratching at your poor, frazzled neurons throughout. Worse, this is exacerbated by an occasionally plunging framerate, especially when fire effects get involved.
Missions in solo play are varied at the expense of polish. There are moments, too, when the game stretches for tongue-in-cheek humour, bending its very mechanics out of shape – in one mission involving riding a giant mutant, your view of any enemies is almost entirely obscured by said creature.
It’s surprising to see a game from a truly esteemed developer fall into such an indistinct art style, borrowing characters but none of the gripping visuals from Madworld – just as it’s surprising that Platinum can botch a camera, deliver another stuttering framerate, and display so many rough edges. But most surprising is that for all these flaws, Anarchy Reigns is still a fulfilling online experience.