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EGM Preview: Anarchy Reigns

Posted on June 29, 2011 AT 01:08pm

Platinum games is ready for battle

The idea behind the upcoming third-person action game Anarchy Reigns is simple enough. Set against the backdrop of an apocalyptic city populated by a punchy cast of nanotech-enhanced heroes, this Madworld spinoff takes the structure of an online multiplayer shooter, but swaps the gunplay for brawling.

At a recent event in London, Sega only revealed a few of the games playable characters, but they’re already a diverse group. Besides Sasha, a lithe android with ice-infused powers, and Mathilda, a dominatrix with a studded leather tail that transforms into a giant mace, the game brings back two characters from Madworld: Jack, the hero with a chainsaw arm, and Black Barron, the pimp with metal-plated Super Sexy Fists of Fire.

Having such a motley crew didn’t make it easy on the developers. “We didn’t try and keep the game balanced because it would be impossible,” admits Platinum producer Atsushi Inaba. “The battlefield is infinite, there are so many combinations between characters, backgrounds, the skill of players. Its not one of those games where you’re fighting one-on-one or two-on-two, [where its] easier to control the balance.”

Like earlier Platinum works, Anarchy came out of a desire to do something that nobody else has done before. “Before this project, there weren’t any multiplayer brawler games similar to what were trying to do here,” Inaba notes, though he does admit, “When there aren’t any predecessors or older examples, there’s usually a good reason for it.”

The basic game mode is Battle Royale, where you have ten minutes to pummel other players for points and see who comes out on top. Platinum’s done a lot of work to avoid falling into the arena-battle trap, which is very noticeable in the level design. One map presents a labyrinthine city with an emphasis on verticality that lets you sprint across rooftops and overpasses or drop down to street level for a scrum.

The environment you choose to fight in will also have an effect on the combat. Youll be able to pick up burning cars and hurl them at opponents or grab spare tires and slam them over someone to pin their arms at their sides. There are also random apocalyptic events in the background — Platinum calls them Action Trigger Events — that change the way you’ll have to fight. In one scenario, a black hole suddenly appeared in the middle of an intersection, pulling everything toward it.

While it might be instinctual to fight one-on-one, teaming up seems to offer the most promise, with players supplementing each others skills and compensating for each others weaknesses. This concept is especially helpful in Survival Mode, where you and your friends will face waves of enemies that get progressively harder.

As the tongue-in-cheek title implies, Anarchy isn’t anarchic in the classical sense of opposing rule by king and divine authority. Its much closer to the punk rock insurrectionism of the 70s and 80s, though with a glistening layer of Japanese magical realism. In fact, it seems almost exactly opposite of the anarchic spirit, a respectful Japanese reinterpretation of the shape and sounds of a Western slur on authority. Consider Black Barron, who’s drawn from the decades-old stereotype of the ghetto-fabulous black pimps of 60s and 70s exploitation films.

“Whatever we do, we shouldn’t trivialize anyone or make them open to ridicule. Everything must be done with good will and a sense of humor,” Inaba says. “What we wanted to represent with Black Barron was a cool image, but also someone who’s lovable and huggable and brings smiles to all the people around him.” In that way, Anarchy Reigns seems like a perfect contradiction, melding Japanese playfulness and deference with American brashness and violence.

PARTING SHOT: While Inaba may be a bit remiss in the notion that Anarchy Reigns is the only game of it’s ilk *cough* Powerstone cough, cough* it’s high time this generation of gamers got a chance to brawl it out.

Source: EGM, Vol. 248

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