MadWorld had two main plus-points going for it: 1) Its black and white art style looked ace and 2) It was on the Wii, where there was not a lot of competition in the 'grown-up' games camp.
The follow-up, Anarchy Reigns
(another hack-'n'-slash-'n'-pound-'n'-saw game) is in full colour and on the PS3 and Xbox 360, so it's off to a bad start from the word go. Firing up the single-player campaign, things go from bad to bad again.
Before I go on to have a bit of a moan-y whinge about the campaign, it seems only fair to point out that developer Platinum Games has put much of the emphasis on the game's multiplayer mode, so there's scope for redemption here. Alas, I didn't play the multiplayer mode. Svend did, and he'll be telling you about it promptly.
So, first things first – it looks dated. It looks like it should be wearing baggy jeans and have a massive chain hanging off them. It looks like Fred Durst playing to a crowd of bored teenage girls wondering why their mates' dad's on stage with his cap back-to-front. It looks dated in terms of both its chunky, post-industrial art style and its blocky, flat graphics.
It also looks dated during its dull, un-skippable cutscenes in which we sometimes get treated to two (badly lip-synched) floating heads trash-talking each other – a mechanism I thought only still happened in DS games (I don't play JRPGs, so if it does
still occur on console somewhere, you can call me a n00b in the comments). And the plot's boring mush, by the way.
Platinum's sense of style is just absent from this game. The over-the-top-ness that was fun and stylish in previous Platinum such as Bayonetta
titles still has its moments but, without the polish of previous titles, dives into kitschiness too often.
The set-up is also a pain in the balls. Rather than having a linear story progression, or perhaps an open world, you're left to stomp your way through a hub level until story and 'free' missions are opened by the number of points you've banked. It's not dissimilar to a proper open world game in principle, except that there's only a handful of missions available and they're only unlocked one at a time. The upshot is that you can spend ages either mashing your way through enemies in the hub level or repeating earlier missions in order to gain points to progress.
But, of course, that's all mitigated somewhat if the actual combat mechanics are great fun and the missions themselves work well, right? Weeelllll... it's not all bad news on that front. The over-powered combat does have its moments and using a double-bladed chainsaw to take out multiple enemies is kind of fun. For the most part, though, the standard light/heavy/super attacks, blocks, grabs and the like make up a functional but uninspired combat system. There's enough variation to stop you falling asleep, but it's all a bit button-mashy and it really doesn't compare to titles such as DmC
I know this isn't a full-priced release, but it's a near-budget release trying to do the things that a AAA game does. Frankly, unless you've exhausted the rest of the genre, why spend £20 on this when you can probably dig up a copy of Darksiders II or Bayonetta for a comparable price?
So, if there's a compelling reason to buy Anarchy Reigns, it's not in the campaign. In fairness, given that multiplayer is what's selected by default when you fire the game up, it feels as though the online mode was built first and the single-player was created around it. The campaign is, at best, a way of mashing away a few hours when you've got nothing else on your 'to-play' pile.
SPOnG Score (Campaign): 5/10
So, can the multiplayer mode redeem Anarchy Reigns
? Over to Svend Joscelyne on Page 2...