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Anarchy Reigns: it's not what you think

Mike Gapper gives Platinum's brawler one last look before our review

Although Anarchy Reigns is pretty simple, every time Sega or Platinum Games take a shot at explaining it, they come off like a 12-year-old describing a Van Damme movie. "So it's this post-apocalyptic beat 'em up but it's also inspired by Call of Duty's multiplayer mode except instead of guns it's chainsaws and..." And on it goes. Let's take a better shot at it: Anarchy Reigns is Power Stone online.

Capcom's classic four-player brawler died with the Dreamcast but it's still remembered fondly by everyone who played it. Anarchy Reigns is 16-player Power Stone played over Xbox Live with a camera set behind your character's shoulders because it's been 12 years and apparently nobody wants to fight one another on the same screen any more. Just like Power Stone, it stars a cast of semi-parody characters who fight with simple combos in arenas littered with weapons and power-ups. The game's director even worked on the original Power Stone early in his career.

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Reign supreme
Also just like Power Stone, you're always trying to build a meter, and the moment somebody enters their powered-up state they become the player to be avoided. It's that exact same rhythm you played on the Dreamcast back in the day - chase, chase, chase, then run away the second someone powers up - and it's a rhythm that works all these years later.

Except maybe you didn't play Power Stone back in the day. Perhaps you're a wee young thing thinking "Dream... Cast...?" So what's in it for you? Well, sod all, honestly. Anarchy Reigns is a ripping online brawler but it's so mechanically simple it never makes for much of a solo campaign, and we can say that for certain because we would have reviewed it months ago if only Sega had released the game when it was ready, instead of retreating into 2013.

Anarchy Reigns hit shelves in Japan back in July, and we've been playing the game for about five months now. That's long enough to have learned a couple of things - first, hardcore Japanese players are not to be trifled with; second, Anarchy Reigns was designed backwards, as a fighting game rather than an action game.

See, when Capcom made Street Fighter 4 it didn't say "hey, let's make a kick-ass campaign with some fighting in"; it said "let's make an amazing fighting game and we'll do some solo stuff if we can be bothered." And then, of course, it didn't bother. Sure, Anarchy Reigns looks more like DmC and Metal Gear Rising than Street Fighter 4, but it's all a trick. Anarchy Reigns is a fighting game, not an action game; Power Stone, not Devil May Cry; and a great game providing you play it on its own, confused terms.

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