Game Review: Anarchy Reigns offers simple pleasures

Platinum Games' latest brawler does exactly what it says on the tin: it's big, loud, excessively violent and unlikely to be troubling your grey matter.

Anarchy Reigns
PS3, Xbox 360

When there's a game called something like Anarchy Reigns, a few things can be taken for granted: it's unlikely to feature a magical unicorn on its quest to rescue the pixie fairy; there will probably be at least one character with arms so big they look like he's been shoving watermelons under his skin; there's a decent chance it'll be violent.

Clearly not wanting to break this mould, Anarchy Reigns - the new brawler from Platinum Games, the makers of Bayonetta and Vanquish - ticks all of the boxes. Recall the bloodthirsty, black-and-white mayhem of MadWorld on Wii (which was Platinum Games' debut release), throw in some colour and you've got the idea.

The plot (if you could call it that) follows two ridiculously biceped gruff-talking steroid-enhanced men, a bounty hunter called Jack and a bureau officer called Leonhardt, who are after a rogue agent in a post-apocalyptic landscape littered with all manner of freaks who want nothing better than to see them dead.

From this introduction, all that really remains is for you to choose your side (black for Jack, white for Leonhardt) and kick, punch, throttle, lob, garrotte and crush the living daylights out of almost anything that crosses your path, with extra points for particularly exciting kills (such as a multi-death swipe from Jack's double chainsaw, which conveniently is a permanent fixture on his mechanical arm). Start a mission, murder all the small, manageable baddies and then wait for big end-of-level boss to arrive for some real carnage. Simple. Once you finish with one side, off you go to do it with the other.

Apart from grappling the controls and learning when to the block and the odd combo, Anarchy Reigns isn't the most complex game you'll come across (unless you've been playing Pong since the 1960s). But then, if you're into pure beat-'em-up mayhem, complexity isn't likely to rank highly on your must-haves.

The graphics, too, a ren't really up there with the greats. Jagged-edged, outdated, almost Tekken-esque blockiness appears to be the order of the day. But again, this is how Platinum Games have set its stalls out with its previous whack-'em-ups and it doesn't appear to be ones for venturing far out of its comfort zone.

Almost like a medley of the best bits from Bayonetta, Vanquish and MadWorld, Anarchy Reigns is all about the sort of frenetic, lunatic fast-paced gameplay that would have anyone over 30 worrying about their heart alongside nonsensical storylines that even a Manga veteran would struggle to understand. Characters such as Big Bull (who has horns) and a selection of female fighters (each sporting the obligatory oversized chest) only add to the absurdity, which isn't helped by some wincingly cheesy dialogue that may have done a few rounds through a Google Translate blender from its original Japanese.

If non-stop, all-action, family-unfriendly violence without any real testing of grey matter is your thing, Anarchy Reigns could well be your perfect afternoon. But if you like your ridiculous over-the-top bloodshed with a touch more intelligence thrown in, games such as Borderlands 2 might be worth the extra investment.

Sign up to:

* Please select one