Platinum Games has built an incredibly solid reputation for themselves in the past few years. Since they arrived on the scene in 2006 packing some of the industry’s top creative talents like Shinji Mikami and Hideki Kamiya, they’ve released nothing but quality titles. Madworld, Bayonetta and Vanquish were all excellent games, so it was with a fair amount of anticipation that I entered the Sega booth to try out Platinum’s latest creation, Anarchy Reigns. Fortuntely, it seems they are poised to deliver yet another hit if my hands-on time with the game was any indication. Check out my full impressions after the break.
At the core of Anarchy Reigns lies the beating heart of a hardcore fighting game. The difference is that, unlike normal fighting games, you have a full range of movement. You’re free to move about the arena, picking up objects to hurl at your opponents. It could most accurately be compared to the Power Stone series that made its home on the Sega Dreamcast. Unlike Power Stone, however, Anarchy Reigns will support online play over 8 players. Also, the arenas will scale themselves according to how many players are in a match so things won’t end up feeling too crowded when more players are present.
The action in Anarchy Reigns is fast and frantic. Each character has a normal attack, heavy attack and throw, as well as the ability to charge up more powerful attacks while holding the left trigger. You can also enter a rage mode by clicking both thumbsticks which makes your attacks faster and stronger for a limited time. Of course, being a fighting game, these can all be chained together to form devastating combos. You can lock onto a target by pressing the L1 button, though it isn’t necessary to lock on in order to deal damage. In fact,the lock on mechanic is the part that takes the most getting used to. Switching targets can be tricky at first and will definitely require some practice.
In my first match, I chose to play as one of the big bruiser characters named Big Bull. Had I known that my three opponents were all choosing faster, more nimble female characters, I might have chosen differently, because I spent a good part of the match being handily outmaneuvered and beaten upon. I scored a few kills using Big Bulls giant hammer attacks, but it was not an entirely fair fight. This, of course, brings into question the issue of game balance, arguably the most important aspect of any fighting game. It’s too early to say whether or not Anarchy Reigns is unbalanced, but a big, slow character like Big Bull is no match for three fast women.
For my next match, I chose a character named Zero instead and fared much better. This ninja badass comes packing speed and two devastating swords, making him more easily accessible than the comparatively cumbersome Big Bull. Over the next couple of matches, I tried out other characters like the electrically inclined Nikolai and the spikey-boobed Mathilda, each with varying degrees of success. Every character feels unique and powerful, so it’ll be interesting to see what other fighters emerge. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for an appearance by Bayonetta, personally. Seeing as how Jack from Madworld is a playable character, other Platinum Games characters wouldn’t be much of a stretch, though the Sega rep on hand would neither confirm nor deny such potential cameos.
Aside from various multiplayer modes, I was told that Anarchy Reigns will actually contain a deep story mode, featuring dual storylines and a focus on adventure as well as combat. It’s good to know that the single player mode won’t merely be multiplayer with bots, as is the case with many multiplayer centric games. A co-op survival mode is also being included, and though it was not on display, you will fight against creatures much larger than yourself.
Overall, I was pretty impressed with Anarchy Reigns. It looks nice, runs smoothly, and while it initially takes some getting used to, the combat becomes second nature after only a few deathmatches. I can also tell I was just barely scratching the surface of the game’s deep combat mechanics and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the final game when it ships in January of 2012.