By Robert Workman, GamerHub.TV (MCT)
Over the years, Platinum Games has really hit its stride as a game developer, especially when its over-the-top actioner “Bayonetta” managed to redefine everything we’ve come to expect in an action game — including nudity stemming from a magic attack. And this year should be a huge one for them, between the forthcoming “Metal Gear Rising Revengeance” and the recently announced “Bayonetta 2.”
But we dare not forget about “Madworld.” A few years ago, this game really showed what mature-rated Wii gaming should be all about, whether it was gushing some oversized enemy in half with a chainsaw or slamming a sign post through someone’s head. Platinum Games has just revisited this world with an even more madcap sequel, “Anarchy Reigns,” which has finally arrived months after its Japanese iteration, “Max Anarchy,” hit store shelves.
Not much has changed in the world of Jack Cayman, a ruthless bounty hunter with a lot on his mind. This time, he’s taken pursuit of Max, for reasons that are disclosed through the game’s single player campaign. (If you prefer, you can also play as Leo, another guy who’s after Max for a different reason.) Over the course of the game, you’ll run through both Free and Main Missions, through markers that are pointed out on a map. Finishing these not only gets you that much closer to your target, but also unlocks weird new characters for multiplayer, whether it’s “Bayonetta” (yep, she’s in this) or some strange dude in a bull suit who can’t help but rely on “meaty” puns.
Some of the missions can be fun, requiring you to protect a Bardroid from being beaten by customers or shanghai-ing a helicopter and using its machine gun and missiles to lay waste to guys. But for the most part, you’re relying on your own toughness to get things done, between light and heavy attacks and juiced up super moves that will leave guys gushing, whether you’re using electric blades or that lovely chainsaw.
The gameplay can get repetitive, I admit, and without any way to really level yourself up to learn new moves, it isn’t long before you master everything that your character is about. Still, if anything keeps “Anarchy Reigns” going, it’s the absurdness of each given situation. One minute you’re called upon to put a muscle-bound pimp with flaming arm fragments in his place; the next, you’re teaming up with someone to take on a runt of a pig dude, and his pig-laden army. (It’s a riot listening to the talks you have with these guys before and after each fight too, though an option to skip them would’ve been good.)
The single player portion of the game will take you a few hours to get through, from both sides, but aside from that, “Anarchy Reigns” also has a solid multiplayer mode, where you can take on people in all sorts of team variations, across Xbox Live or PlayStation Network. While it’s mostly a matter of hitting the right people at the right time and avoiding dangerous circumstances (like huge trucks that run everything down or a sandstorm), it can be ridiculously entertaining once you get a good session going. And the playing field opens up to trying out new characters and seeing what they can do.
“Anarchy Reigns” isn’t the best-looking game that Sega has produced, and I’m sad to see the black-and-white “Madworld” appearance gone in favor of full color. However, there are moments of glee scattered throughout this world, whether you’re slamming a huge lizard guy into his grave with a finishing move or flying across a chasm with the help of turbo-powered thrusters. The camera can be a hassle, but overall this is an interesting world to run through, and each new set of levels has its own challenges, especially the higher platforms.
Platinum Games’ soundtrack is sensational for this game. A great mix of techno pop and rap numbers really keep things moving along, though there are occasional duds in the mix — hardly any to get concerned with, though. The voicework has its moments as well. Though the lip-synching doesn’t match 100 percent (especially in the “talk window” moments), it’s still humorous to hear the bull dude make his lame jokes, or the pimp talk smack before he delivers it. The characterization is what makes this game click longer than it deserves to … well, that and the affordable $30 price point.
While “Anarchy Reigns” isn’t bound to be Platinum Games’ crown jewel of 2013, it’s a novel way to start off the gaming year, with breezy yet quirky entertainment that, while not suited for all tastes, should find some form of appreciative audience. If you loved “Madworld,” you’ll probably be right at home here.
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: Beat ’em up
Mode: Single-player, online multiplayer
ESRB Rating: M for Mature