E3 2011 Impressions: Anarchy Reigns (Sony Playstation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360)

Anarchy Reigns is the next title from Platinum Games, and one of the titles I was most excited to see on display at E3. I’m a huge fan of Platinum, and of the games that many of the developers worked on with previous developmental groups. SEGA invited us to sit down and have a brief video walkthrough with some of the people from Platinum involved in the project, who then showed off of the single player side of the game.

The single player aspect of the game, by all appearances, looks like MadWorld for the Wii but in higher definition and color graphics. That’s not a bad thing as far as I’m concerned because I liked MadWorld. However for a PS3 game (We were shown footage from the PS3 version, which we were told was the lead console they developed it for but it is coming out for the Xbox 360 as well), the graphics were kind of dull. The colors looked off, the textures were flat and didn’t appear to have a lot of detail, and so on. Of course, it is hard to judge a pre-alpha build of a game, so please keep that in mind. They took us through a single player level using Jack, the protagonist of MadWorld. The level was sort of an arena based affair where you could earn score for killing enemies, much like the aforementioned MadWorld.

Once that was over they showed us the other protagonist Leo. They explained that there will be two single player stories, Leo’s and Jack’s, which are the opposite sides of the same story. So in order to understand the entire tale you will need to play through them both. As they played Leo, it was obviously that he played and moved differently than Jack. Jack is a lumbering brawler, Leo is quick and dexterous. It still is an arena style brawling game, but it is a fresh change of pace to switch over to the other protagonist.

After that, Sega and Platinum discussed how the game was different from MadWorld in that it was focused around a brawling based multiplayer which had not been done before (There was an original Xbox game that actually did have brawling based multiplayer, but it was terrible and no one remembers it existed.). They mentioned the difficulty with peer-to-peer multiplayer, but said they were still working on different online issues when asked about how they handled host advantage.

Later I was able to get some hands-on time with the multiplayer demo on the floor of E3. While they said that the game was about 80% complete during the prior interview, the demo was a mess of technical problems with only four people playing. It was littered with numerous graphical errors, such as characters disappearing mid-move and appearing somewhere else in the move animation, issues like characters freezing, some of which might be fixed, and the demo also showed issues such as how the game determines when a move connects. It seems that a reach distance is calculated that extends slightly beyond the character models, but how far is difficult to figure out. This means you’ll be in situations where if the other player understands their range and you don’t, you’ll get mauled. The lock on system is just really awkward, as is the system used for dodging around once locked on.

I love Platinum games and the idea behind this game and I would really like to see a tightly made final product. This demonstration isn’t even close to that however. They said it was 80% done, and but what I saw looked like a product closer to 50%, if that. Hopefully this was just a bad first impression and I’ll be able to take back any of my doubts once the final game is released.

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