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Previews

Anarchy Reigns

PREVIEW: An insane first step into multiplayer mayhem

Platinum Games' Atsushi Inaba has just informed us that "the experience of grabbing someone and punching them in the head when they are in another part of the world is a special experience".

Fair comment, Inaba-san, but it's selling Anarchy Reigns slightly short. It's not just punching - there are double chainsaws, spiked maces, and the Black Baron's spectacular special weapon: the Super Sexy Fists of Fire (they're so hot, even the cheesiness melts).

But what is it? Simple: Anarchy Reigns is an online multiplayer brawler whose closest competitor, if Inaba-san were forced to name a single game, is Street Fighter IV.

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It's a huge departure for Platinum. All of its previous games have been beautifully precise single-player experiences. While Anarchy Reigns is playable solo, it's obvious that this is intended to be an overblown online experience.

Battle Royal mode takes place on something that's more like a full map than a Street Fighter arena. Seven players are ripping each other apart, and the trademark anarchy is comically enhanced by Action Time Events. Massive saw-wheels scream through the maps. There's indiscriminate carpet bombing from fighter planes (coupled with the gleeful phrase "YOU are the collateral damage!"), and even black holes opening up in the level. You can settle a grudge with a duel, which transports two players from the main map into a more traditional one-on-one fighter cage.

The only thing that's missing at the moment is any understanding as to how the combat works. We saw that buttons are mapped to light and heavy attacks, grabbing and jumping, but there's no insight into what combo scarves can be knitted from the button wool. However, given the comparison to SFIV - and the fact that this is Platinum Games - it feels safe expect a satisfying countering and combo system.

The other first for Platinum - Anarchy Reigns is the first game to blur the lines between its franchises. Some characters have been lifted from Wii title MadWorld, with dominatrix Mathilda and the ridiculous cartoon pimp Black Baron among them. Does that mean we can expect to see Bayonetta fighting on the streets?

Has Platinum built a playground for all its characters? Inaba-san doesn't answer, so we'll leave you with the second best quote, in which Inaba-san describes how the Black Baron has been improved. In perfect innocence, he says: "We call him the Blacker Baron."

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