In case you were wondering, Anarchy Reigns, Platinum Games’ robust brawler, does have a storyline nestled in there among the blood spurts and ultra-violence. Alas, like a lot of multiplayer-centric titles that thump in with a back story in tow, it has the ring of poor-written afterthought.
Playing as MadWorld’s Jack, or his rival Leo, you’re set on a collision course with a rogue Bureau Of Public Safety agent, Max. The two characters have different motives: for Leo, it’s all about rescuing his mentor; Jack, meanwhile, has been hired as a bounty hunter by Max’s daughter. But we're not really here for story, and the narrative duly grinds to a halt as you’re tasked with button bashing your way through the campaign, doling out an array of light and heavy attacks.
Each assault can be modified by a simple pump of the left trigger, which transforms it into a Killer Weapon, like a giant chainsaw that slices and dices an opponent in a gore-drenched instant. Anarchy Reigns doesn’t really care much for its single-player component – it’s a glorified tutorial at best – but it is, at least, solid prep for the dust-ups you’ll face online.
And you’ll need it because Platinum’s latest is designed around chaotic multiplayer sessions where practice makes perfect. That said, online play can frustrate, especially with 16 players on the battlefield at any one time. It’s only during the two-on-two bouts that you’ll ever feel totally in control over what’s happening on screen. Still, it’s a valiant effort from the Japanese developer to deliver something that the industry has been crying out for: a real gamers’ game. And at twenty quid, you’d be a fool not to consider picking it up.
Reviewed by Sebastian Williamson