In recent years, there has been a rather large shift in the Western and Japanese success and development of videogames. The Japanese style of game design has been in a slow decline, and many facets that differentiate the two design philosophies have been in favor of Western games. Arguably, one of the best game studios out of Japan is PlatinumGames. Game after game they have shown they have what it takes, and they do it it with style and flair. They began their careers in 2006 as Seeds Inc, and soon after became Clover Studios. During their run with publishing partner Capcom, they were responsible for Viewtiful Joe, Okami and God Hand. Currently under Sega, their most recent contributions to the action game genre have been Madworld, Bayonetta, and Vanquish. Despite somewhat weak sales, PlatinumGames has quite the track record of great videogames. They know what it takes to make a fun game, and their newest offering Anarchy Reigns, follows suit.
Anarchy Reigns has both a single player offering and an online multiplayer mode. The E3 demo focused on the multiplayer facet of the game. The first comparisons one can draw from the multiplayer, is that it has a similar design to Capcoms' fighting game Powerstone. You are placed in a small arena and forced to duke it out until the time limit runs its' course. Unlike Powerstone, you are expected to die a lot, and are given unlimited respawns to do so. There is a basic light attack, and heavy attack, in which you can string attacks to form your own combos. There is also a powerful weapon based attack which is very distinct to each of the playable characters. You can block, dodge, throw, and basically have as much control as any typical 3rd person action game. There will be many more multiplayer modes in the final game, but during the E3 demo the game pit 4 players against each other in a free for all battle royale. Having this many players definitely causes a lot of chaos on screen, and because every player is out to get you it's beneficial to always watch your back. There is a simple lock on mechanic to keep one of your opponents in your sights, but this feature should be used while going into an attack, and removing it afterwards to make sure nobody else is coming after you. Much success seemed to come from timing your attacks against a player, after they completed an attack animation against somebody else. This caused a few players to attempt to try and stay out of a fight, and then go in for the kill on the weaker players. The amount of points a player gained when defeating another did not seem to change even when using this sneaky tactic. Like many recent fighting games, if both players attempt to throw each other they will both be pushed away, but throwing had some other minor annoyances. The animations can not be interrupted once initiated, which leaves any other player who's not involved to sit and wait. During this, the thrower can not be damaged in any way until the attack is completed. Unfortunately, lengthy throw animations cause the characters involved to be sitting ducks if they're not paying attention to outside attackers waiting it to be over. Many characters have stronger, charged attacks, and these were especially brutal if timed correctly against the other players completing the throw animations. This is still a very early build of the game, so these little nuisances may change when it's finally released.
Anarchy Reigns has great looking animations for some pretty crazy characters. Those familiar with Madworld will instantly recognize Jack, the chainsaw wielding main character, and Black Baron, the pimp television show host. Even though the single player is still a mystery, these characters hint that Anarchy Reigns will at least take place in the same universe. Also joining the fray are characters Zero(a ninja), Sasha(an ice powered blonde), Big Bull(a cyborg bull with a giant hammer), Nikolai(a large lightning gloved man), Leon(a cybernetic arm bladed return from Madworld) and Matilda(Black Barons S&M looking assistant). These 8 characters seem to just be the beginning, as Platinum games have been releasing more characters as time has been going on. Expect more character reveals down the road. The music is also reminiscent of Madworlds'. It features a mix of hip hop and rock and sets a good tone for the game with fast paced fighting tunes. Anarchy Reigns has plenty going for itself, although there is still very little known about the rest of the game. So far, it's a fun beat 'em up style action game, but is a bit rough around the edges. The overall graphics need work and the gameplay feels a little stiff compared to PlatinumGames other action titles. There is still work to be done, and with a Playstation3 and Xbox360 January 2012 release date, plenty of time to get it right.