Anarchy Reigns (Xbox 360) review
"Even a low-budget, small-scale follow-up to MadWorld is still more of a follow-up than we ever expected. Anarchy Reigns takes the style, audacity, humor and helicopter-throwing lunacy out of its predecessor, then demonstrates that even without those things, it was still a pretty solid beat-'em-up."
I think the reason we're all so hesitant to call Anarchy Reigns a sequel to MadWorld which it is, by the way is that despite featuring a nearly identical control scheme and most of the same cast of characters, the game has been stripped of nearly everything that made Platinum Games Wii exclusive so immediately striking. Proposing a follow-up to an underselling cult hit and then removing that which made it a cult hit in the first place is a bold move, but that's about the extent to which Anarchy Reigns and "bold" can be used in the same sentence. The stark black-and-white visual style has been scrapped in favor of a standard color scheme in which everything looks as you'd expect it to (except for the blood, which is now blue for some reason and barely registers as such). Also gone with the blood is the bloodiness, the emphasis on finding creative and sadistic means of disposing of your enemies. You won't be golfing with zombie heads or launching human fireworks in Anarchy Reigns. One battle is even tantalizingly situated next to a jet engine, but alas, you are given no one to toss into it.
That's all good and fine, of course. Plenty of games have succeeded without disembowelment being the central mechanic, but it means Anarchy Reigns has to stand on its combat alone. And as a straightforward beat-'em-up, surprisingly, it's not bad at all. The move set is standard but robust, merging your basic two-button "quick attack, strong attack" setup with character-specific weapons, such as Jack Cayman's iconic arm-mounted chainsaw. What's important is that the game is fast and relentless enough (something MadWorld never was) that even on the default difficulty, you can't count on going on a button-mashing offensive without getting friendly with the game's block and dodge moves as well. Fights against some of Anarchy Reigns' more menacing foes play out like complicated dance routines.
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