It's a little bit Virtua Fighter, a little bit Madworld. Played in the back room of Sega's Gamescom press booth, Anarchy Reigns is a fast-paced, action-heavy brawler that seems a bit too sloppy to have any lasting appeal.
But when the game's moments come together, like delivering a buzz-saw flurry of bloody sword slashes with cyber-ninja Zero, it can be satisfying.
The game, Sega's Mike Masuku tells Kotaku, is Platinum Games attempt at making an online close-combat melee game.
"This is their first online title," he said, before we dropped into three sessions of gaming. "They wanted to explore online gameplay."
Masuku described the game as a fast-paced, extremely violent melee combat game, but it's not extremely violent in the Madworld sense of the phrase. You won't be impaling people with street signs or batting them into walls of spikes. Instead the game feels like a brawling fighter game when played online.
It also features two single player campaigns Masuku pointed out. In those campaigns you first play as Jack the bounty hunter on the hunt for a man named Max. Then you play through the story a second time as government agent Leo. Both those characters, and a slew more, are playable in the game's many online modes. You unlock the game's other characters as you play through the dual campaigns.
There won't be any offline training for the game, nor any option to add bots to the online sessions, meaning you will be relying on your fellow online gamers for all of the game's online play.
The sessions we played were on a smaller map, with just four players. The final game will feature a variety of maps, characters and up to eight player battles. There will also be a selection of modes. We played death match, but other modes mentioned include Battle Royale, Capture the Flag, Cage Fights and even some cooperative horde-like survival modes.
The game already has 11 announced characters to choose from, but our session only allowed us to pick from eight: Jack, Leo, Baron, Nikolai, Mathilda, Zero, Bull and Sasha.
I tried out Nikolai, a character with a gun-like leg; Bull, a minotaur-like creature; and Zero, a cyber-ninja.
Gameplay is pretty straight-forward: One stick controls movement, the other your camera view. You have strong and normal attack buttons, as well as grab and jump buttons. Right triggers put you in guard, the PS3's top left trigger locks onto a character while the bottom right lets you use your killer weapon. Your killer weapon is essentially your character-unique power move. It takes a bit more time to land, but does much more damage. To use this weapon, you hold in the trigger and press either the normal or strong attack button.
Characters also have a rampage gauge which fills as you fight. Once that gauge is filled up you click in both thumbsticks to go into a damage dealing rampage mode.
Our timed death match modes ended with me in first place in our initial round, last in our second and third in our final match. The ranking was based purely on score which was a combination of kills, and a multitude of bonus points for things like killing-sprees, weapon usage and revenge kills.
The gameplay was fun, though leaned heavily toward button mashing, it also lacked the nuance of things like break attacks, and skill-based combos or special attacks. As a death match game, it seems to be lacking, but I can imagine combining the tactics of something like capture the flag with melee combat and bloody combos could be fun.
I'm not quite ready to write Anarchy Reigns off, but I'm not really sold on the idea yet either.