Anarchy Reign is a much different experience than I thought it would be. Granted, I didn’t really pay attention to all the pre-release hype, nor did I really seek out the game’s trailers before putting it into my Xbox 360 for review, but after a few minutes with the game, I realized that Anarchy Reigns is more than just a fighting game set on a 3D plane. However, it also didn’t take long to realize that Anarchy Reigns is a pretty ho-hum experience that overstays its welcome far too quickly.
The game’s single player mode doesn’t follow the standard “ladder” structure of most fighting games, instead choosing to give the player a hub-world they can explore freely and enter both story missions and secondary, side-quests. The side-quests are there for you to earn precious experience points (more on these in a bit), while the story missions, well, advance the game’s story. Missions range from simple “defeat all the enemies before time runs out,” to escort quests, to boss battles versus hulking monstrosities. While some missions feel monotonous due to repetitive gameplay, most avoid this pitfall by thankfully only lasting a few minutes.
Now what really trips up Anarchy Reigns’ single player mode is that in order to open up missions, both of the main and side variety, you need to reach certain tiers of experience, which is earned primarily by beating the piss out of the faceless/nameless enemies that infinitely respawn in the game’s hub-world. So essentially, Anarchy Reigns is a grind fest where you have very little influence on its overall pacing.
And this is a bummer because the actual universe Platinum Games has created here is something I would have enjoyed watching unfold if it weren’t for the lame progression structure. The characters are imaginative, both from a story and design perspective, and the setup had my attention immediately.
But here's where salt is added to the wound; Anarchy Reigns' gameplay leaves a lot to be desired. The game is basically a nonstop button-mashing affair. While the single player mode has two playable characters with completely different move sets (Jack of MadWorld fame and some dude named Leo), it still gets repetitive far too quickly. Maybe this can be chalked up to the game’s strict adherence to earning experience points to progress forward. You know, that's it – Anarchy Reigns has the depth of a $.99 cent iPhone game, yet is stretched out for far too many hours. It just doesn't know when to drop the mic and walk away.
The last thing I want to mention about Anarchy Reigns’ single player mode is how it looks. In a nutshell, the game is rather bland looking. Textures are muddy, and the hub world is barren and uninspiring. I don’t typically mention graphics that much in my reviews anymore, because I really don’t think they make or break a game, as many developers have found inspiring ways to create beauty without resorting to multiplying polygons. But Anarchy Reigns’ visuals deserve mention; they just immediately feel dated, as if this were a game from a bygone generation.
Anarchy Reigns' saving grace, if there is one, is the game’s multiplayer mode, which lets up to 16 people compete against one another using the game’s very eclectic cast of characters. Everyone has his or her own distinct moves, and it leads to some true anarchy (ahem) in the online battle space. But I will be totally honest, outside testing out all the characters to see all the crazy moves and specials, I didn’t stick with multiplayer that long.
From a conceptual standpoint, Anarchy Reigns seems like a sound idea, one that allowed Platinum Games to incorporate some of their well-known characters and a handful of new ones into one, all-encompassing fighting game. But the delivery leaves a good bit to be desired. Anarchy Reigns has an interesting world and cast, but its structure and gameplay hold it back. I can’t help but think a different plan of attack could have made this game far more memorable, let alone enjoyable.
CraveOnline received one copy of Anarchy Reigns from Sega for Xbox 360. We played the game as much as we could before utter boredom took over and our eyes retracted back into our skulls. Multiplayer was also played for a handful of hours to test out all the characters.