Anarchy Reigns Gameplay Preview (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)

It's almost time to unleash havoc in MadWorld again.

About four years ago, Sega managed to shake up the landscape of the Nintendo Wii market with a mature-rated game, one that didn’t hold back when it came to action.  In MadWorld, produced by the team at Platinum Games, you could execute a number of gruesome attacks, whether it was pummeling someone with a mega-sized chainsaw arm or plowing a street sign through their eye socket, so that it stuck out evenly on both sides as they collapsed.  The game remains a cult classic, and it appears that, even though it’s on a different set of consoles, the long-awaited sequel Anarchy Reigns will follow suit.

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Reigns, which has been out for several months in Japan under the name Max Anarchy (and delayed for a little while so Sega could tinker with the release on the U.S. market), does away with the slick black-and-white motif in favor of a full color world, one where you can play through a single player campaign with three different characters, or battle with friends online through Xbox Live or PlayStation Network.  No matter what you decide to do, however, you can expect heaping piles of carnage to follow.

The main story involves one of your three main heroes – a bounty hunter, a cop and a secondary mercenary – who each have their own reasons to hunt down a vile criminal by the name of Max Anarchy.  He’s wronged them in some way and must be brought to justice, and a pair of machine guns aren’t going to get the job done by themselves.  Not only do these players have to contend with various post-nuclear refugees throughout each city, but also enemies that require a bit more pummeling to bring down, including giant-sized lizards and massive bosses.

Combat is the name of the game in Anarchy Reigns.  Like the original, you can stylishly piece together combination attacks and turn standing enemies into slushy sushi, with just a few well-timed strikes.  As you proceed through the game, your attacks become even more varied, and you’ll unlock a variety of characters that you can play as in the multiplayer campaign, whether it’s a huge mechanical bull-dressed warrior named Big Bull or a transforming piece of work by the name of Gardua (who works alongside a bounty hunter cyborg named Durga).

But single player is just part of the picture, as multiplayer is a huge aspect of Anarchy Reigns in its own right.  Using various characters that you unlock over the course of the game (as well as the sultry Bayonetta, who’s available as pre-order DLC on day one and quite debonaire in her own right), you can play through a cavalcade of modes, including Battle Royale (every man for himself), Tag Team (team vs. team), Death Match (last man standing wins), Capture the Flag, and Survival (where you take on waves of incoming enemies).  The genuine nature of the multiplayer beast changes frequently, not only because of the number of enemies that come at you, but because of the consistently changing conditions over the course of each map.  At one point, a sandstorm may break out, forcing you to avoid open areas to stay out of death’s grip.  Another may have an incoming air strike, forcing you underground so you’ll avoid the devastating blast.

We tried out a few multiplayer sessions of the game, and while it isn’t as strategic as most first-person shooters, we have to admit it’s a lot of fun.  Taking on clusters of enemies with wide-open attacks is sensational, especially if you can bring down a whole team at once and score some major points in the process.  We were also encouraged to try out new characters on the battlefield – particularly a nasty type named Edgar Oinkie, who can transform into a lumbering reptilian beast temporarily using Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-like mutagen – to see what they bring into battle.

The controls are quite easy to get into, though there are times you may want to be on the defensive if you’re surrounded, or find your way back to your teammates so you can settle the score evenly.  This is one of those games where, unless you really know what you’re doing with your techniques, it’s not entirely wise to play the lone wolf.

Even though we miss the black-and-white décor of the original game, Anarchy Reigns is monstrously fun to watch, between the on-screen carnage, the ever-changing maps (some even have elevators that take you up to a new level so you can plan out a better strategy) and unique character designs.  It isn’t often you get to see a guy dressed like an actual bull doing damage, but you’ll get that here.  The in-game comical dialogue is fun to listen to as well, if a bit over the top.  Hey, it wouldn’t be Platinum Games any other way.

Priced at a very reasonable $29.99, Anarchy Reigns looks to be a swell hit for Sega in the New Year.  We just hope that the multiplayer really picks up in it, because we could use some more bash sessions.  We’ll find out when the game hits stores on January 8th.


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Prima Games Staff
The staff at Prima Games.