I’m going to call Anarchy Reigns a “fighting game”, because this appears the closest point of comparison. It has many of the same archetypes and ideas, just transplanted into a new domain. I suppose one could call it a “Power Stone” clone, but I think it fits more into the competitive FPS mold than anything else. Having more than a one-on-one match change the playing field and the tactics required quite alot; it also requires some spatial awareness that I definitely do NOT have as a part of my skill list.
Having played through the single-player mode, I imagine most people think “this game’s not too hard; I wonder what the online is like?” Unfortunately, there’s a few things you should know in advance that the game does not teach you. Multiplayer, like in most games of this type, isn’t the simple exercise of dealing with AI patterns; fighting a real person takes a whole different mindset. Namely…
1. The population remains pretty low. This means, for better or worse, that the people still playing the game played it a LOT – for the importers, they’ve been playing it for eight months before you put your foot in the ring. Whatever modes still being played remain the ones that the best players play. You will die a lot. You will have kills stolen a lot. Missiles will destroy you, satellite lasers will obliterate you, people will throw tires at you and get free infinites/100% combos/instakill something or other on you. You will be the guy on the Team Deathmatch who sucks and doesn’t know what exactly happened when four players on the opposite team juggled him to death. Sometimes a boss will drop into the match for no reason and kill everyone. The game fits the name – Anarchy Reigns, and you’re just having fun in a time of utter complete chaos. Temper the expectations of your established “skill”. Everyone else in the small population, more often than not, will beat you to a pulp, so enjoy the pain and learn something. I’ll admit, though, that I find it difficult to get mad at a game where I get sucked into a black hole for no reason and an army of mutants jumps into a supposedly serious competitive game.
2. Expect many people to play with overpowered characters, using glitches that cause your death, or who knows what else. Many characters have inescapable infinite combos, The Blacker Baron uses a lag trick to kill enemies, Bayonetta (DLC ahoy!) also has some of the same things, and game “perks” (think CoD) break the game through unlimited blocks and evades. Defensive maneuvers like the 360 spin cost little to no cost. Defensive options remain paramount in a game seemingly devoted to stupid side-scrolling brawler combat (think Final Fight). However, the relative madness of every other event happening on screen means that anyone can die. A person at level one may defeat a level 50, given enough willpower and fortitude. Get over your preconceived notions of “unfair” and “cheap”, and simply play to win regardless. You’ll have a lot more fun that way. Pick and choose your opportunities/battles, and don’t let people gang up on you if at all possible.
3. The game still requires some modicum of understanding the mechanics. You cannot just run up to someone and expect to beat them head-on. Contrary to what the move lists will tell you, hit-and-run and feints become primary tactics. A jumping Killer Weapon move takes out half a bar, and perhaps more depending. You’re better off paying attention to your opponents then trying to land that magical juggle combo which, inevitably, leads to you dying because somebody else juggled you. Look up combos on YouTube and PRACTICE. The more you practice, the more you can perform highly damaging punishes on reaction. Developing muscle memory takes time, but every single opportunity counts. Doing infinite evades (by tapping the Killer Weapon button inbetween dodges or walking a little bit to reset the counter) works for you too!
4. Tying into the third point, play defensively. Evades, running, and jumping all work in tandem to make you hard to hit. Look for that perfect opportunity to hit someone and deal damage. Evades have a limit, but you can press the Killer Moves button or walk a short distance to reset it. Don’t bother guarding; too many attacks in the game break your guard and make you vulnerable to the Touch of Death combos. Combos, anyway, aren’t always the best option for any particular situation.
5. Don’t pick Jack. Seriously. We all love Jack from MadWorld, that’s for sure, but he’s absolutely terrible in this game. He does not have the speed nor the tools nor the combos to stand up to much of the cast. If you want to pick him, expect an uphill battle (such as playing Dan in SFIV). His awfulness cannot match with anyone else in the cast, barring Big Bull (but at least he does a truckload of damage with his Killer Weapon…if they hit). If you want the challenge, save yourself the trouble and learn the game with another, better character and THEN go back to Jack.
6. I say this with a bit of sorrow, but Anarchy Reigns does not hold to competitive water. Just enjoy it for what it is: crazy, unpredictable, fun. One practices as much as they want and still finds themselves dead due to any number of different issues in the game. You can remove all these elements by playing in a Cage Match, but where’s the fun in that? Fighting Blacker Barons using OHKO does not sound like a good time. Killing a Kraken plus trying to avoid enemy players while someone throws a missile at you, you catch it, and then throw it in their face sounds like a lot more fun.
Anarchy Reigns strikes me as one of those games you forgive despite its faults. You cannot encounter situations such as the ones it presents in any other game I could imagine, and that’s why PlatinumGames continues to succeed. Perhaps not THIS particular game, but their attention to detail (or just throwing every bizarre and tertiary element they can imagine into the game) creates a magnificently in-depth, crazy, and most of all, purely FUN experience a game could provide.
Or, you could say I see it as one of those temporary guilty pleasures, a la Ecclesiastes 3:
9 What gain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.
After writing blogs and messing with websites all day, it’s fun to just have at it with no emotional investment, you know? I find something beautiful about this nutty, insanely designed game designed for the purpose of absurdity and fun. I implore you to get into the action now before the online community dries up!