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Dreamweaver avatar 11:02 AM on 12.18.2013  (server time)
Battle Royale: Where Anarchy Reigns

When Andy Dixon asked us what our favorite gaming moment of the year was, I said, in passing, that my favorite would probably be Anarchy Reign's multiplayer mode "Battle Royale", and for good reason. However, I felt that the little blurb I provided as my explanation to be sorely lacking, and now I must write a blog in order to fully explain why I loved playing Anarchy Reigns' multiplayer, particularly "Battle Royale".

For those who don't know, which I imagine to be a great deal of you considering that Anarchy Reigns was not only severely under the radar, as per usual with PlatinumGames (also didn't help that SEGA practically refused to give it some coverage), but that, when it finally did release in other countries, it was so heavily marked down that one would confuse it for a budget title despite being a full priced title in Japan... well, here's the gist of the game: set in a separate universe from their previous, Wii exclusive outing MadWorld, Anarchy Reigns once again stars Jack Cayman: a Chaser who, in this game, must track down a man named Maximillian, who is suspected to have killed Jack's daughter. To be honest, I never would've expressed as much interest in this game (despite being a fan of PlatinumGames), let alone take a chance on it first day, if it wasn't the "spiritual successor" of MadWorld, a game I've always wanted to see in the other consoles like No More Heroes: Heroes' Paradise.

While we're talking about its relatively unknown status, I recall the time when I went to Gamestop on the Tuesday that the game came out and I asked the manager working the register that day about it. Now, I've known this guy for years because he always seems to be working whenever I go to this particular Gamestop (been the employee handling me for almost 8 years, actually), so I know that he's a pretty huge gamer. In fact, because he likes to converse with some of the other gamers about recent releases, a lot of customers go there, despite being in a dead part of town, just because he's so chill and relaxed about things. Anyway, despite all that, he has not even heard of Anarchy Reigns, and had to search it up in the system to see if it really existed. At first, I thought I wouldn't get a copy, but lo and behold, they had a couple to spare (I still imagine that I was the only one there who bought it just as I was the only person to buy Project Diva F: Hatsune Miku), and I wound up buying it on the sheer sake of being Jack Cayman, the "hero" from Madworld once again.

Of course, I wouldn't mind PLAYING with other characters...

And I'm glad I did, because, even though I kind of liked the campaign (way too repetitive and tedious for me to love it), the reason I love Anarchy Reigns' multiplayer is right there in the title of the game; anarchy, which is the perfect way to describe what happens when you let loose 16 players in an open enviroment, all trying to kill each other in a free-for-all. The mayhem that surrounds the game mode of Battle Royale are typically fast, frantic fun that requires players to not only keep their minds under control under pressure, but also forces them to either becomes one with the chaos inherent to the game, or risk becoming the last place loser in the scoreboard. And hey, even though I generally rank out near the bottom of the ranking (with only a couple of times where I almost come out on top), I still don't give up and quit because I simply enjoy the spectacle that happens throughout the match, and I'm very eager to jump right back in: it's fresh, it's different, and way out of the comfort zone I especially with shooters.

And getting out of a comfort zone is a good thing, because Battle Royale in Anarchy Reigns is a unique 16 player free-for-all brawler, where it's every player for themselves, and enemies are just around the corner. The thing about Battle Royale that I love most is the fact that it takes place in a giant map where not only 16 players must fight against each other, but also against the enemies that spawn, ranging from assault rifle wielding soldiers to giant monsters eager to tear you a new one. This means that even if you're not a part of the fighting taking place, you're almost never safe, especially since everyone is visible on the mini-map and if one player don't hunt you down first, the monsters trying to dismember you will. On the bright side, this goes for everyone else, and it can lead to some interesting opportunities: do you try to lure your would-be killer into the view of a bloodthristy creature, or should you lure the monster into a populated area and pick off anyone it mauls on? Or, even better, do you "unleash" the monster into the crowd, and then backstab anyone trying to take it down while they try to protect themselves?

Aside the monsters, there are a couple of items and weapons, not to mention pick-ups, that can help turn the tide of a fight, or give you the upper hand. Similar to MadWorld, in fact they share the exact same animation, players can use stop signs as either blunt instruments to smack someone with, or a sharp object to impale through their head, stunning them long enough for you to take full advantage of the charge time of your attack. You can also pick up cars and throws them at enemies like a bowling ball, or chuck a gas tank full of liquid nitrogen to freeze them in place, if you please. Not only that, there are also weapons you can find randomly, such as a rifle to snipe with or grenades to lob at mobs of enemies and players alike: my favorite is one that, upon activating it, teleports you and the first person you hit into an arena away from the other players to have your own little private duel in the form of a caged deathmatch!

This... is... survival of the fittest

But the real treat of Battle Royale, and the thing that trips even the most experienced of players up, are the random events that could disturb the already hectic chaos that runs throughout the map via player-driven actions. Once in a while, the game will force some silly event that typically threatens the lives of the players in its area of effect, the events including but not limited to an airstrike from fighter jets soaring above to tornados that'll sweep up any player it captures and spits them out in a random location. Sometimes, if the game feels sadistic enough, it could even spawn a boss-like enemy your way in the front of a giant mech or a giant kraken that'll require the work of several players to takedown. I especially love it when these "boss encounters" happen because I've seen moments where people immediately stop fighting each other to party up in a temporary alliance to fight the kraken... though it usually ends with them ganging up on the one person who gets the credit for killing it (as you win Battle Royale with points rather than kills, though kills give a big boost in points)!

Here's an example of how insanely awesome the game could be, true story: in one map, there are some times when a cargo plane is crashing towards the arena, and anyone caught in its blast radius will be instantly killed. So, naturally, you see people scrambling to get out of the area, especially since you lose points by dying, but some players like to stick it out and ensure that they kill their enemies while they're running away with their backs to them; it doesn't help that, when a player is close to dying, that their name is displayed red, which tempts other players to kill-steal (what's funny and horrifying at the same time is when you're the one with low health, and everyone is chasing you hoping to get the kill; I would compare it to being chased by hungry dobermans while having juicy steak tied around your neck). Anyway, since some players were so eager to fight in the crash zone, others with no choice as they don't want to be considered a coward, I decided, since I wanted to kill-steal, that I would stay here and fight as well until the end (since I was already in last place, so I had nothing to lose with potential to gain).

At least, that was the plan... shortly before the impending doom of a plane crashing into our area, someone with the "duel" item (I mentioned earlier) comes from behind me as I was fighting for a kill to challenge me into a private fight. As I said before, the "duel" item teleports the participants into a separate arena, meaning he saved my life by teleporting me out of the area right as the plane hit and everyone's name turned red (as I said, it's instant kill). Or course, this now means I was locked into a 1v1 deathmatch with him, and since he was the best player of the match whereas I was the last place loser because of my lack of skills... you could probably guessed what happens next. Still, though I did ended up dying anyway, it was a much more fun way to die (rather than being stubborn about getting a kill), and it makes the multiplayer even more unexpected, which makes it all the more awesome!

It's a MadWorld

Another awesome thing I want to mention about Anarchy Reigns, which isn't exclusive to the game mode nor the multiplayer portion, is the pretty cool soundtrack within the disc; the fact that it also plays during the multiplayer is just icing on the cake. The music, produced by PlatinumGames themselves (I think), really hypes you up for the match at hand, and I enjoy getting psyched up during a match when one of my favorite tunes comes on. While the soundtrack isn't as vicious and rage-inducing like the previous game MadWorld, with only a few tracks dedicated to turning you into a bloodthristy maniac, it gives a different type of energy: instead of giving me the thoughts about shoving fireworks down people's throats or chainsawing their faces off, the music here gives me that fighting spirit, "down but not out" type vibe that's well suited for a brawler.

And not just brawlers: after buying the CD, I've been listening to it in a variety of games, such as first person shooters like Payday 2: whether the songs are making me a bit too gleeful shooting cops in the face, or hearing that I "gotta get the cash, gotta get the gold" whenever I'm cleaning a bank vault, the music just suits action games in general, and are worth a listen (though, bear in mind, most of it is rap music, which I myself enjoy, but it does not cater to everyones' taste... that being said, there's a bit of variety in the OST, and I think there might be something for everyone).

Out of the 32 tracks, these are some of my favorites of the bunch:

[Play for Keeps - Sick YG]

[Kill 'Em all - C. Wilkes (Ox)]

[My Town, My City - Skitz the Samurida]

[My Pride - Skitz the Samurida]

[Sound the Alarm - C. Wilkes (Ox)]

[Soon Enough - Sick YG]

All in all, Anarchy Reigns really stood out to me this year, and it instantly became one of those cult classics in my collection. I mean, it's not the best game I ever played, but it has its charm and appeal to me even with the singleplayer alone: outside the faults like cut-scenes that you could tell was made cheaply (though not all of them are like that) and underdeveloped characters that literally appear once in the campaign and are never heard from again, seeing a better fleshed out Jack Cayman and a dual-sided story really made it pretty interesting to me. But, again, it's really the multiplayer that really makes the game shine to me: you know how Battlefield 4 advertises those "Only in Battlefield" moments? Well, this game has plenty of those, and it seems to happen more often than not. Sure, there are some matches that seem just as routine as ever, especially if you play offline with bots, but seeing 15 other players duke it out in one area and everyone's trying to snatch a kill before the others, it's like dropping a slice of flesh into a fish tank of piranha and seeing them go.

It's just as bloody, and just as awesome to experience.

They Came From Underground

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