|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: Platinum Games|
|Release: January 8, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language|
There is a level-up system, which mirrors the sorts of progression you see in multiplayer shooters, but it’s decently balanced, preventing higher level players from immediately overpowering lower level players. Unfortunately, it may be overbalanced. The perks and bonuses you unlock aren’t all that powerful, and you level up quite slowly. It does a lot to keep the game even but doesn’t do much to make you feel like you are earning a reward.
Still, that sounds good right? Evenly balanced battles filled with awesome anime-style brawling with up to sixteen players? What could be wrong with that?
Well, it turns out that this formula isn’t particularly compatible with human behavior. You see, shooters work out well with sixteen-player matches, because you can kill your enemies at long distance. Taking cover and noticing your enemy before he sees you is the name of the game, and confrontations end with a kill—or with both parties running away—in mere seconds. Action games, on the other hand, work on a different set of rules. Kills have to be earned at close range as you’re slugging it out through combos and grapples. Confrontations can last for a while, with blocks and blows being exchanged several times. Of course, when a player sees others slugging it out, he will want to jump in to start wailing away at the side that is most unprotected, which quickly turns a one-on-one fight into a three-person free-for-all. This, in turn, becomes a four-person free-for-all when another player finds the battle, and so on, until the entire group is clustered in one little area, flailing for their lives.
The result is just a chaotic mess of button mashing and kill-stealing that is nearly impossible to navigate. Attacks fly every which way, sometimes killing people you weren’t even aiming for in the first place. You can never take an opportunity to stop and block as someone will just run up and throw you, and then someone else will attack them. It nearly renders kills meaningless, as you are never guaranteed to earn credit for all the wailing you did. Only the final blow counts. Of course, you would expect this gigantic mosh pit of arms and blades and chainsaws to thin as people die, but everyone will remember where the battle is after they die, and when they respawn they will just run right back into the fray.
So it’s not so much that the game’s multiplayer is bad, but rather that people tend to be reduced to chaotically flailing monkeys whenever they see a battle going on. When paired up one-on-one with an opponent, there actually is a pretty deep battle system that can produce some suitably epic confrontations. Unfortunately, it gets boring having to search out your one enemy on the game’s multiplayer maps, not to mention that limiting the game to 1v1 duels essentially defeats the purpose of an online multiplayer brawler in the first place.
Anarchy Reigns simply doesn’t live up to its hype. It’s not the big multiplayer brawler that finally brings action games into the online world, but it is a pretty solid action game nonetheless. You probably won’t be spending much time in the game’s multiplayer, but the single-player campaign makes it arguably worth a purchase, especially at its budget price. If you are the kind of person that loves bloody action schlock, then this may be the game for you.
Angelo M. D’Argenio
Date: January 9, 2013